Written by Dr. Luis Rivera, Diplomat of Philippine Pediatric Society
“Good sleep is essential to a baby’s growth and development. It is expected that on their first year of life, babies should sleep between 11 and 18 hours a day, and during this time have growth hormones actively working on their physiological and emotional development at three times the normal rate.
A baby who doesn’t get enough good sleep will exhibit very real developmental problems that may include hyperactivity, aggression and learning difficulties. His physical and mental growth may also be impeded, and he may experience more behavioral problems and a reduced ability to pay attention and concentrate.
According to Dr. Luis Rivera, a Diplomat of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Fellow of the Philippine Society of Sleep Medicine and a Pediatric Consultant for Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital, “Sleep for babies is not just rest for the body. It assists in brain development, proper learning and, to a certain extent, social adjustment. And since our growth hormones are released during sleep, the child is given developmental and growth values as well. Poor sleep can impact growth—they become stunted, or thinner, or smaller, crankier, and they develop slower.”
Dr. Rivera further explains, “What a baby really needs is good sleep, which is really nighttime sleep.”
Quality and duration of a baby’s nighttime sleep has a greater impact on overall growth and development than daytime sleep according to studies. At night, a baby’s brain development kicks in at full speed, as neurons grow and develop at an accelerated pace. This allows the child to develop cognitive and organized thoughts that allow him to learn and unlearn all the sensory input he encountered during his waking hours.
One of the best treatments for sleep problems in children is to adapt a regular bedtime routine that will signal the transition from wake to sleep for the child.
A good way to adopt a baby bedtime routine is to consistently practice it every day because, according to studies, babies as young as a few weeks respond well to bedtime routines.