For adults, sleep is a time for repair and rest. For newborns, it’s a time for growth and development. Sleep is a super process that replenishes the body and gives it the necessary foundation to bloom and mature. Your baby’s first year of sleep is vital for their physical and mental development. Creating a proper strategy and environment to support their need for rest will have a ten-fold return on your investment. During those crucial first months, your baby is the most dependent on having proper restorative sleep. So, let’s look at why this is the case and what you might be able to do about it.
How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?
In their first year, your baby will triple in weight while growing on average at a rate of ⅜ inch per week. Such fast development is only possible if they receive proper nutrition and rest. Newborns (birth to 4 months) may sleep up to 18 hours a day, with 3 to 4-hour sleep windows. Usually, their sleep “schedule” is hectic and messy, with constant naps throughout the day and night. Infants (4 to 12 months) average 14 hours of sleep; they start to cluster their naps at night while becoming more active during the day.
Of course, your baby’s first year of sleep is very delicate and individual. Specialists advise that from 0 to 3 months, your baby should get at least 11 hours of sleep without going over the 19-hour mark. While between 4-11 months, they should sleep for more than 10 hours but less than 18. If your baby deviates from these time windows, it would be a good idea to look for help from a healthcare professional.
Babies complete their sleep cycle in only 50 minutes, almost two times shorter than adults. REM sleep takes half their sleep cycle, ensuring active cognitive function and optimal memory consolidation. It is normal for babies to wake up numerous times a day because of their shorter sleep cycles. You can expect them to doze off again unless they are hungry – in this case, the baby will need to feed before its next nap. With maturing, babies learn to self-soothe while prolonging and clustering their sleep during the night.
In What Ways Sleep Helps with Development?
Your baby’s first year of sleep is crucial for their development as they rapidly grow in size and weight while building their immune system and cognitive capacity. Proper restorative sleep within the first 12 months will determine the overall health and development of the baby for the years to come.
Major Growth Spurt and Weight Gain
As we said above, in their first year, babies triple their weight and grow taller in an unprecedented. This is possible thanks to the overflow of somatotropin – a growth hormone mainly produced during the non-REM stage of sleep. Any form of sleep deprivation or disruption may impair the baby’s ability to make sufficient somatotropin, resulting in stunted growth and poor development. The correlation between growth spurts in length and sleep is well-documented in a 2011 study by Lampl and Johnson, which showed that babies get taller during sleep.
Also, according to research by Taveras et al if your baby’s first year of sleep is suboptimal, that may lead to problematic weight and numerous health issues as “daily sleep duration of fewer than 12 hours during infancy appears to be a risk factor for overweight and adiposity in preschool-aged children.”
Strong Immune System
The health of your immune system is heavily dependent on the quality of your sleep. With even more weight, the same applies to all babies since they are far more fragile during their developmental stage. They are more prone to disease and pathogens – their immune system hasn’t formed completely. For it to function at full gear, the baby must get their required time of shut-eye, as sleep deprivation is well-known for weakening the immune system.
During your baby’s first year of sleep, their brain will double in size while making millions of new neurons and synapses. All these formations and development happen precisely during sleep when deep learning takes place. According to research by Hendrik et al, normal sleep development is correlated with high cognitive function, resulting in smarter and better-behaved babies with calm temperaments.
Moreover, Tarullo’s research showed that sleep ensures optimal memory consolidation. The babies develop a vivid arsenal of memories through which they can navigate and explore the surrounding world. Through a memory feedback loop, they can “process sensory stimuli and learn about contingencies in their environment.” Without sufficient sleep, your baby will have a hard time functioning in the new world.
How Wool May Promote Proper Sleep for Your Child?
Now that we’ve established the importance of your baby’s first year of sleep – let’s look at some of the benefits of wool that may help your little one to enjoy their optimal sleep cycle and reach peak development.
Wool Is Temperature and Moisture Regulative
Wool helps your body regulate its temperature, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. That is especially important for newborns because they can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively as kids and adults do. Keeping them warm, but not too warm, wool helps them stay comfortable for longer. Synthetic and petroleum-based materials like foam and memory foam cannot provide proper regulation. Wool allows your skin to breathe and prevents excessive sweating. It can absorb a high percentage of its weight in water, and releases it into the air very quickly, without trapping humidity and moisture close to the skin.
Wool Keeps Your Child Safe From VOCs and Fire Retardants
Law requires all mattresses sold in the United States to be treated with fire retardants. However, the chemicals used are highly dangerous and toxic themselves. The risks of fire retardants outweigh the benefits, especially for pregnant women, newborn babies, and kids. Common serious health problems include learning deficits, hyperactivity, impaired memory, immune and hormone disorders, and many more.
Wool is naturally flame-resistant and unlike nylon and polyester doesn’t ignite or melt. It is the only bedding material, not required by law in the US to be treated with fire retardants. It can also help you get control over the VOC exposure and off-gassing at home. Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are found in just about everything nowadays: furniture, synthetic mattresses, paints, flooring, etc. Exposure to VOCs can lead to both short and long-term health deterioration. “Breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat can cause difficulty breathing and nausea and can damage the central nervous system, as well as other organs,” The American Lung Association reports. Wool is completely toxic-free with zero off-gassing and zero VOCs, making it the healthiest choice for your kids’ bedding.
Wool Is Naturally Dust Mite Repellent and Hypoallergenic
Dust mites are the main reason for asthma and various allergies in kids and adults, studies show. Being resistant to dust mites, wool makes the perfect material for baby bedding and kids’ bedding. It’s absolutely suitable for people with chemical sensitivities and for newborns.
According to a study, published in the British Medical Journal, there is a strong link between synthetic bedding and allergic dust mite symptoms.
But how does wool keep dust mites off your health? Thanks to the structure of its fibers, wool is highly breathable and moisture-wicking, so it just doesn’t create dust mites’ favorite thriving ground. Dust mites like it dark, warm and moist, while wool keeps your bed cool and breathable, wicking moisture quickly.
Wool is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and mold & mildew resistant
Wool has a natural water-wicking property that prevents moisture from being retained in the fabric, naturally inhibiting mildew. It also has anti-microbial properties because bacteria tend to be attracted to smooth positively charged surfaces like those of synthetic fibers rather than the scaly, neutrally charged surface of the wool fiber. That is just another great quality that makes wool the perfect material for kids’ bedding.
With so many benefits and science backing it up, wool is by far the best option for your baby’s first year of sleep. We know that all-natural fabrics and materials are the right choices for baby clothing. Why shouldn’t that be the case for baby bedding? From mattresses to nursing pillows and baby swaddles, there is now an all-natural option that will let your kids thrive through better sleep and a healthier environment.