We all know the value of a good night’s sleep, and how it affects our following day. This is no different in babies. Very young babies need to wake, or be woken to feed as they are not yet able to consume their calorific requirements during the day, but as they get older, they are more than able to do this and a proper sleeping routine should be established so that they can make the most of all this nutritional input, and be happier individuals when they are awake during the day. There are a few different levels of sleep that we cycle through over the course of a night.
Without getting into it too heavily here, basically deep sleep is when our brain consolidates all the information it takes in during the day. A sort of ‘backing up to hard drive.’ In a small baby this is a huge amount of information; auditory, olfactory, visual, taste, gross motor, social, emotional- the list goes on. We tend to not realise just how much information they’re processing as most of these things are skills we wouldn’t even consider skills.
For example- we just take it for granted that our eyes will see, process and understand what we see. For a baby this is a Herculean task! This deep sleep cycle is also when growth hormone is released which is crucial for healthy weight gain. Babies who have poor sleep habits tend to perform on the low end of the weight spectrum, while babies who have good sleep habits do very well. One of the most noticeable effects of sleep training your baby (aside from a good night’s sleep for your self!) will be an increase in healthy weight gain.
By Genevieve Ramirez – Nutritionist, Sleep Trainer & Infant Specialist