7 Benefits of Naps for Babies
Babies truly are a gift and when you finally have one of your own it feels as though you could stare at them for hours, whether it be to inspect their delicate fingers and toes or to try and count the hairs on their fragrant little heads. Of course, you may feel differently when junior is screaming the house down because they haven’t had enough sleep.
As an adult, you may not have the time or opportunity to enjoy the naps you would like, but babies should and there are a plethora of benefits involved for your little one. While newborns sleep when they need to (which is usually up to 18 hours a day), you may face a challenge when it comes to nap time for your older baby. Still, it isn’t till the toddler years that your child will reduce to just one nap a day, so savour this time while you have it and just remember these for the next time your childless friend suggests baby can skip that nap.
1. Emotional Development
Napping is aiding your baby’s emotional development, toddlers who don’t enjoy a rest during the daytime hours are more likely to show symptoms of anxiety and experience a decrease in problem-solving skills. Studies have shown that insufficient sleep has an impact on how toddlers express their emotions and can result in mood disorders for a lifetime.
This particular study was focused on toddlers who were sleep deprived, but tested the same nap-less children after they had enjoyed a good rest. The tired toddlers showed a 35% drop in their positive emotional responses compared to when they had been given time to nap.
2. Improved Night Sleep
While a nap for you may prevent you from sleeping at night, the opposite is true for babies. If your baby doesn’t get enough sleep throughout the day they may find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep come nightfall.
This is thought to be due to a lack of downtime during the day leaving your child irritable and overtired. Thus, making it fairly difficult for them to drift off at bedtime or worse, waking up throughout the night and interrupting your sleep. Seriously, exhausted children > overtired parents.
3. Necessary Downtime
We all need downtime, whether it’s a long soak in the bath or reading a book in the garden, kids need that, too. We often pack a lot in for our kids in a bid to keep them entertained and stimulated, but they need time to themselves just as much as you do.
Giving them time to rest is an opportunity for them to develop their imagination, relieve stress, and most importantly - rest.
Whether it’s one of those tantrums with baby throwing themselves to the floor and having a full-on blowout or just a run of the mill meltdown in the middle of a department store – there is nothing worse (or more embarrassing) than a temper tantrum. They tend to stem from frustration and when babies are tired they are easily frustrated.
This is especially true of children who do regularly nap and then miss one. So, keep that napping schedule and for your own good, plan your life around those naps.
5. Healthy Weight
Too little sleep has been linked to obesity and that starts during the infant years. A study from Penn State Children’s Hospital found that parents who were coached on what techniques to use to comfort their children (instead of feeding them) led to babies who slept better. Understanding the difference between the cue for hunger and distress was integral to the study and those parents who were assigned nurses to coach them on this excelled. Better yet, you can start as early as just two weeks old.
The issue lies in a lack of sleep wreaking havoc on the hormones that tell babies they are full, just as stress encourages adults to turn to unhealthy foods to feel better.
6. Heart Health
Extra sleep helps protect your children from damage to the heart. Sleep disorders and a lack of sleep increase the presence of cortisol in the system which can arouse the brain hundreds of times during one night of sleep. This increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. So, it is vital that babies have the opportunity to nap regularly throughout the day to make up for it.
7. Your Peace & Quiet
Parenting is hard work so it’s only fair that you get to enjoy a rest, too. That time of peace and quiet is when your baby is down for a nap. You can grab a quick one, too, or catch up on your favourite show. You could take the opportunity to do some housework, but I think you’ve earned a bit of rest and relaxation time.
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