Babies and Napping

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Naptime is a blessing for you and your baby. Here are some tips on how to make this important time as beneficial as possible for you both.

Why Should Babies Nap?

Naps are not just important for their restorative value, although that is their most obvious benefit. Children's sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley describes some of the other advantages to napping:

- Adequate sleep is important in brain development. Some research has shown that daytime napping may help move new information into a more permanent place in a child's memory.

- Napping can affect nighttime sleep. A child who needs a nap but does not get one can become overtired and have trouble falling asleep at night.

- Studies have shown that children who nap have longer attention spans and are less fussy than those who do not nap.

- A child's biology dictates that a nap is necessary after midday, when energy levels tend to drop. (Adults feel the same way, but sleep is not usually an option for them.)

- Sleep releases stress-fighting hormones.

- Napping can help a child catch up on sleep if their previous night's sleep was disrupted.

When Should Babies Nap?

The answer to this question varies according to the age of the baby. Newborns, easily overwhelmed by their new surroundings, tend to nap frequently. They often have catnaps throughout the day, with a couple of longer naps in the morning and afternoon. Between three and six months, babies settle into a routine of morning and afternoon naps. This age presents the ideal opportunity for you to establish a nap routine that works with your baby's biological signals for rest.