We all know that sleep is very important. We need our body to get enough rest so that we can maintain physical and mental health. Sleeping helps our brain function optimally: it improves our learning, our ability to concentrate, and our decision-making skills. Sleeping well affects our quality of life. If sleep is extremely important for adults, you can imagine how important it is for babies!
When a baby sleeps, he saves energy, allowing him to gain weight faster and have a healthy development. Also, his organs mature and his immune system grows stronger to protect him from diseases and infections. When he’s asleep, your baby’s body releases a growth hormone, which helps him to keep growing. Finally, sleeping helps increase your little one’s appetite, so he can eat well and get the nutrients needed for his proper development. It’s important to remember that babies don’t sleep like us: they sleep for brief moments at a time and constantly wake up to eat. Their first few months, babies usually eat 8-12 times a day, causing their frequent wake ups. Their sleep cycles are different from ours, allowing them to sleep for few hours, but deeply.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping range for babies that are 0-3 months old is 14-17 hours a day. Some babies may sleep less, between 11-13 hours, while others sleep up to 19 hours a day. However, going above or below the range of 11 to 19 hours is not recommended. Sleeping less than recommended deprives their bodies of rest and the benefits provided by sleep, and on the other hand, sleeping more doesn’t allow them to get the proper food and stimulation needed in a day.
If your baby doesn’t wake up during the night, you are one of the few lucky ones who can rest the whole night through.
There are children who take enough food during the day and don’t require eating overnight. This is not a problem, as long as your baby is happy and healthy in all aspects. If your baby is taking at least 8 daily feedings of milk, every 2 or 3 hours; wetting about 6 diapers a day; and gaining weight, then you have nothing to worry about! Your baby may be sleeping five or more hours without waking up for food and this is not a problem. However, if you notice your baby is not gaining weight, you have to look into why he is not waking up to eat. If during the first two weeks of life your baby is not waking up after five hours without feeding, you might need to wake him up and feed him so that he can gradually gain the weight necessary for his healthy development. Ask your pediatrician for his opinion. If he indicates that you should wake your baby up, then follow his instructions; he knows your baby’s developmental needs. Likewise, if your baby doesn’t wake up to eat during the day, but he is growing at a healthy rate and your doctor tells you that there is no need to wake him, then let your baby sleep and take that extra time to recharge your own energies.
During the first two weeks of life, babies are able to sleep and skip their meal time. Just try to ensure that during those first two weeks, no more than 4 hours go by between feedings. Ideally, you should feed your newborn every 2 or 3 hours, helping to establish your milk supply and ensuring that your little one receives the necessary nutrients and calories. Remember to relax, it’s not necessary to set a specific mealtime. Let your baby eat when he wants to, but keep track of his diaper changes. The first month, you should be changing around 10 diapers a day, 6 wet diapers and 3 or 4 that contain poop. After the first month, your baby will wet 4-6 diapers, normally pooping a bit less.
Genes and environment each contribute 50% to a child’s intellectual development. This gives parents some room to step in and boost their child’s intelligence! When is the best time to start cultivating your child’s intelligence? Early on is optimal, when the brain is malleable and while you still exert the deciding influence over your child’s environment. Curiosity, persistence, motivation, and attention all can be taught early on. Evolution seems to have already favored these early years – your child is more receptive to your teaching due to his/her high dependence on you for their physical and emotional needs. Researchers have managed to identify several specific aspects of children’s environment that will influence intellectual development. Here are some steps parents can take to improve their child’s brain development and cognitive potential!
1. Prenatal influences: Of all environmental influences on a child’s intelligence, prenatal experience is perhaps the most potent. A mother’s health, nutrition, environmental exposure, and emotional well-being all influence the development of a fetal brain. High levels of stress hormones negatively interfere with optimal brain development by acting directly and indirectly on both the developing neurons and altering the course of pregnancy. If you are pregnant or know someone who is pregnant, suggest a simpler schedule, regular exercise, and the use of relaxation or other methods to maintain stress levels down. Continue reading →