Let Sleeping Babies Lie

(They might be having a growth spurt)

By Mary J. Loftus

Baby under a blanket

iStockphoto.com

Moms and dads know their infant’s sleep can be erratic, but most parenting books suggest keeping the little ones on a consistent schedule of waking, napping, and sleeping. New research, however, shows that babies might need extra sleep just before growth spurts.

A study by Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Anthropology Michelle Lampl asked parents to keep daily sleep records of their infants, then analyzed the logs with the infants’ growth. The results, published in the journal Sleep, showed a significant association between sleep and growth.

Sleep records showed that infants about to experience a growth spurt had uneven bursts of sleep, with the amount of sleep in a twenty-four-hour period increasing by an average of 4.5 hours per day for two days. They also took an average of three extra naps per day for two days. The growth spurt usually followed within two days.

“Growth not only occurs during sleep but is significantly influenced by sleep,” Lampl says.

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