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Let Baby Sleep! She's Having A Growth Spurt

The first time my baby mysteriously slept – and slept, and slept – for what seemed like the whole day, I was worried. Was there something wrong?

Of course not, my mom assured me. The baby was just having a growth spurt. Sure enough, she did seem bigger when she woke up.

Now, science has caught up with the wisdom of grandmothers. A new study finds that babies’ sleep patterns are linked to their growth spurts. They really do need more sleep when they’re doing the hard work of getting bigger.

Healthday reports on the findings, which involved an analysis of over 5,000 sleep records maintained by parents. They found that:

There was a significant association between these increases in sleep and growth spurts in body length, which tended to occur within 48 hours of the sleep bursts. The researchers determined that the likelihood of a growth spurt increased by about 43 percent for each additional sleep episode and by 20 percent for each extra hour of sleep.

The research shows that babies sleep when they grow, and that the quality of their sleep affects their growth. They said longer sleep time corresponds with greater growth in body length.

The message to parents: let your little one snooze. They’re just growing.

The wisdom of grandmothers also holds that babies (and older kids) sleep extra when they’re having a big developmental spurt. They get fussy, act out, eat everything in sight, sleep for two days and then *BAM* wake up one day knowing how to read, or tie their shoes, or whatever. My babies always had extra sleep needs around learning a big new skill like walking or talking.

I wonder if a follow-up study will look at these developmental leaps and find as strong a correlation between mental growth and sleep. The physical one is neat to see established. Mom was right!

Photo: salimfadhley

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