As a guide to help parents with infants, the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) partnered with Pampers to distribute “Golden Sleep Principles” under the theme “Care for Baby’s Golden Sleep”. Sleep is a vital part of our overall health and wellbeing. In addition to providing rest and rejuvenation, sleep significantly improves physical, mental and emotional functioning. It is even more important for infants, as it is essential for their development. By following these recommendations, parents will help their baby and themselves obtain quality sleep.
Healthy brains depend on healthy sleep
Scientific studies have shown that the average newborn baby sleeps for 16 to 20 hours every day. A one-month-old baby sleeps more than 14 hours a day in six bouts. And, by the time they are a year old, most babies sleep about 11 hours a day during four sleep bouts. Babies need at least this much sleep to be able to form connections in their brains and nervous systems that help them to learn now and as they are older.
Healthy bodies also depend on healthy sleep
Sleep is also important to for babies to develop strong healthy bodies. During sleep, especially during the first hour after babies fall asleep at night, their brains release a substance called growth hormone. Babies need this substance to grow. If babies don’t sleep enough, they don’t release enough of the hormone and they don’t grow properly.
A cozy sleep environment
Babies sleep most comfortably in a cool, dark, quiet room that is between 20°C and 25°C and with a humidity level between 60% and 70%. A room that is too cold causes babies to shiver to try to stay warm, which might disturb their sleep. If the humidity is too low, babies’ noses dry out, making it hard for them to breathe. A room that is too hot or humid will make babies sweat, which may also disturb their sleep. It is important to choose sleeping clothes that keep your baby warm but do not overheat him or her.
A helping hand
Babies move a lot when they sleep: up to 10 times as often as adults. Babies move for a number of reasons, including in response to stimulation, such as loud noises, touch, pain, colic, and urination. Activity levels in their brains increase during these times, but babies often remain asleep if no other stimulation occurs. Because babies move so often, and because wetness due to urination could disturb their sleep, a diaper that fits well and keeps them dry throughout the night is very important.
Your baby will fall asleep more easily if you follow a regular bedtime routine. This routine should include quiet, non-stimulating activities. There are various options or possibilities such as giving your baby a warm bath followed by a gentle massage, reading quietly to your baby, turning down the lights, or playing music quietly. Finally, you should put the baby to bed in a quiet, dark room. If you follow the same routine night after night, your baby will begin to connect these activities with going to sleep and will sleep better.
To help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, it is very important that your baby sleep in his or her own bed on a firm mattress without any loose blankets or loose clothing and to be put to sleep on his or her back. If your baby shares your or someone else’s bed, your baby can become trapped or suffocate.
*Adapted from the World Sleep Day Website