How naps can help babies’ memory development
It’s that time of the day when you’re ready to put your baby down to sleep. You’re rocking the baby, singing sweet lullabies, waiting for him or her to fall asleep. But did you know that what you do with your child right before you lay them down for a nap, might be vital to their memory development?
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), found that infants who napped after learning a new activity had better chances of remembering than those infants who did not nap.
German researchers took 216 healthy 6 to 12 month old infants and divided them into two groups. Both groups were shown how to remove and manipulate a mitten from a hand puppet. The first set of infants took at least a 30 minute nap after learning the activity, while the second group did not nap at all. The idea was to test the youngsters’ ability to recall newly learned skills.
So what was the result?
The study found that the babies who napped after they learned how to manipulate the mitten remembered the information, while those who didn’t nap showed no evidence of remembering the behavior.
“Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered,” said Dr. Jane Herbert in a press release.
Researchers also discovered that allowing flexible napping schedules, rather than different daily schedules, could help ensure optimal learning conditions for infants.
“Try to put your baby down for daily naps at least 30 minutes throughout the day. If he/she is tired or fussy than it’s probably time for a nap so trust your instincts and what your baby is trying to tell you,” says Dr. Traeger.
Dr. Traeger also says that sleep is important for all members of the family.
“Research has also suggested that many infants, children and older kids up to adults are not getting enough sleep. Make it a priority in your family and everyone will be happier in the end.”
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