8/17/12

Infants Need Sleep to Grow, so Don't Worry Parents! {Guest Post}


As the proud mother of a newborn infant, I'm constantly seeking to improve my parenting skills. I want my precious son to be as healthy as possible, and I frequently read authoritative scientific articles to help me in this regard. I recently became concerned about my son's ever fluctuating sleep patterns. It really seems that he sleeps nearly all throughout the day and wakes up at very random times, only to go right back to sleep again. However, I came across an article titled "Infant Growth in Length Follows Prolonged Sleep and Increased Naps" published in the journal Sleep that has really calmed my worries and concerns. I want to share the key points of this study with you, as you may share the same concerns I did.

The study establishes that the variability and fluctuations in infant sleep patterns is a primary concern to parents. The authors point that their study aims to "investigate sleep patterns of infants in their natural environment through continuous sleep records." It is already known that levels of growth hormone rise during certain periods of sleep. The researchers wanted to better understand this link between sleep and growth. In order to do so, they recruited the parents of 23 infants and asked the parents to take careful real-time notes on infant sleep patterns for between four and 17 months. Parents were also asked to take note each day whether they were breastfeeding and/or formula-feeding, and to record whether their infant experienced any type of illness. This may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, rash, congestion or other medically diagnosed condition. The babies' body length and weight were also measured.

The researchers discovered that those stretches of time where infants slept more overall corresponded with growth spurts and also a gain in weight and body fat. Both boys and girls experienced that correlation, though boys experienced more frequent, short duration daily sleep bouts compared to girls. This study is very important because it is the first to actually demonstrate that a relationship does exist between sleep time and growth spurts. It also provides ample evidence that infants and young children require high-quality sleep to grow both physically and mentally.

The main takeaway from this study featured in Sleep is that you should not worry if your infant child is sleeping for long periods of time, or napping at random times, because it simply means that your baby is just growing up. Parents tend to worry a lot about their kids. It's what we do. However, this is one area you do not have to worry so much about. You should save your worries for when your child actually does grow up.

Megan Layton is a proud wife and mother of an infant son and web content coordinator for Baby Changing Station. Megan has stopped worrying about her son's funny sleep patterns after reading this study that has been featured in the journal Sleep.

4 comments :

  1. sleep better @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says ...

    Our baby deserves and need a proper amount of sleep. Just like adults, sleep plays a very big role in our health, and in infant - their growth years. Always make sure to provide our babies the right amount of sleep. It helps improve their overall health specially their memory.

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    Replies
    1. Rachel @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Delete
  2. Shanel @ My Baby Sleep Guide -Says ...

    Should you wake your baby to feed? I have a 5 week old that can take long naps. Should i stick to the every-3-hour rule?

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    1. Rachel @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says ...

      Shanel,
      I stick with feeds every 2-3 hours during the day at this age so 1)baby gets enough to eat if he is extra tired and so 2) nights and days can be sorted out and sleep and sleep continuity will hopefully move to the night and not the day. Check out this post that talks more about this:
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2010/02/daynight-confusion.html

      Delete

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