Baby Bedtime – How Important is Good Sleep for Babies?

Last Saturday, I attended an event by Johnson’s Baby called “Baby Bedtime A toZzzs”.

Baby Bedtime by Johnsons baby powder

The Johnson’s Baby Bedtime event, hosted by Ms. Tin-Tin Bersola-Babao (still working despite being due to give birth the next day!), aimed to share the highlights of a US Study on a bedtime routine, as well as demonstrate the actual routine that parents and caregivers can incorporate into their babies’ bedtime schedule.

Guest speaker was Dr. Luis Rivera Jr., a pulmonary pediatrician and sleep specialist at Makati Medical Center. He spoke about Sleep 101.

  • Baby Sleep 101

How important is sleep among babies? How much sleep is enough? Is the number of hours more important than the time of sleep? Here are some basics of the science of sleep that I learned from the event:

1. Babies do no sleep as deeply as adults do. Babies take longer to sleep and awaken more easily at night.

2. Sleep is not only necessary for rest. It’s also important for growth. Science has proven that growth hormones are released three times more during nighttime sleep than when awake.

3. Babies have the most opportunities for growth during the first few months in life, when they are asleep most of the time, and experience deep sleep often.

4. Sleep requirements lessen as kids grow older. Infants need as much as 16.5 hours of sleep per day. My 3.5-year old son needs about 11 1/2 hours. (Click photo below to see typical sleep requirements up to age 18.)

baby bedtime how much sleep is enough?
Typical sleep requirements for kids

5. Optimal sleep is important for kids (and parents!!!) to function properly. Lack of sleep among kids leads to poor behavioral and academic performance. (Lack of sleep among parents leads to royal crankiness!)

6. Parents can tell if their children are not getting enough good sleep – habitual snoring, snorting, pauses in between snoring or breathing, unusual sleeping positions, restlessness.

Children must get enough sleep and, more especially, nighttime sleep because that is when the growth hormones are most active.

 

  • Bedtime Routine Improves Infant Sleep

Dr. Rivera also highlighted the findings of a US study by noted psychologist/pediatric sleep expert Jodi Mindell.

The three-week study, which included 58 mothers and their babies aged 7 to 18 months, evaluated baby’s sleep with the use of a before-bed routine together with the Johnson’s Baby bedtime range.

The before-bed routine included three steps:

1. Bath time

2. Massage time

3. Quiet activities

The results were impressive, as expected. Most parents know, anyway, that a bedtime routine does help babies to be calmer and sleep better. But it’s good to know that routine + products is good for babies, and moms too. Here are some details of the study results:

  • How long did it take your baby to fall asleep over the past week?

After two weeks on the routine, there was a mean reduction by 37% in the length of time to fall asleep, from 23 minutes to about 13 minutes.

  • How many times, on the average, did your baby wake at night?

There was a 37% decrease of nighttime awakenings among the babies, from 2 incidents to one.

  • How much total time in the night did your baby spend awake?

There was a decrease by 49% of time spent awake, from about 37 minutes per night to only about 18 minutes after two weeks on the before-bed routine.

  • What was your baby’s longest continuous sleep during a typical night?

Continuous night sleep increased by 23%, from 7 hours to 9 hours.

Moms too were asked on  their anxiety and fatigue scores. There was a mean reduction by 55% and 59% respectively. This is expected – with lesser night awakenings and long continuous sleep, parents are bound to benefit too.

  • The Before-Bed Routine

Keeping a good bedtime routine will help our kids to be more relaxed and and consequently sleep better at night. The stages of the bedtime routine done in the study above was demonstrated during the event, using the Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Range:

baby bedtime how to massage baby1. Bath time: Needs only to be quick to avoid exposing baby too long. Use your elbow to check if the water is comfortably warm, not hot or too cold. Use this time to bond with your baby too – sing or coo at him/her.

2. Massage time: Massage is proven to soothe babies. In addition, touch is said to deepen, strengthen the bond between parent and child.

Different massage strokes were demonstrated:

– “I love you” massage: works to relieve constipation and gas pain (“kabag”).

Baby is lying on his/her back. Using the palm of your hand (or the index and middle fingers for small babies), stroke a capital “i” upwards from the right lower side of the tummy. Go back to the starting point at the lower right side again and make an inverted “L” by stroking up to the ribs and left across the upper side of the tummy. Go back to starting point and make an inverted “U” stroke, ending at the lower left side of the tummy. Repeat as often as the child can tolerate (for as long as he/she isn’t restless).

-Butterfly massage: With the baby lying on the back, make butterfly-like strokes with both of your palms, starting from under the belly button and going up and outwards to the chest. Turn the baby over to lie on the tummy, and do the same stroke at the back.

-“Milking cow” massage: This stroke is for the arms and legs. Take one arm with both hands and with an even and gentle pressure, slowly stroke down the arm as if “milking a cow”.

Massage the baby for as long as he/she can tolerate it. If the baby becomes fussy or irritated, time to move on to the next stage. The goal is to calm and relax. I like to coo and sing baby songs or nursery rhymes while massaging. In the local Ilocano culture, we have a massage technique that the old folks used to do so babies grow fast and strong. It comes with a rhyming song too! (“Pekkel, pekkel, pekkel…” Sing along with me! hahaha)

3. Quiet time: the winding-down stage in preparation for sleep. By this time, the baby should be in a much calmer, quieter mood. It’s important to set the mood for sleep. Baby can’t sleep if you’re watching TV still, or another person in the room is working on the computer. Dim the lights, put on a lullabye CD, read bedtime books, sing softly. The mood is hush-hush.

While it is important to create a sleep-conducive mood at bedtime, the experts recommend that the baby be left to fall asleep by himself/herself during the last few minutes with minimal rocking or dancing. This is to avoid sleep association –  the baby needs those (rocking, singing, dancing) to fall back to sleep if he/she wakes up in the middle of the night.

For more information and helpful tips on baby sleep, please visit http://www.babycenter.com.ph/bedtime.

6 thoughts on “Baby Bedtime – How Important is Good Sleep for Babies?

  1. Great tips Imom!

    I have trouble putting my little one to sleep sometimes and I am scared to give her a bath every night…Pero I noticed that whenever I do, tulog talaga sya agad. 🙂

  2. I know I’m late commenting on this post, but can you please send me the lyrics for the pekkel song? My dad used to sing it to me as a child and I’ve never known what the words were!

    Thanks

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