As parents, everything that relates to our child’s growth (both mental and physical) becomes our utmost concern. Some factors that actively grab our attention are nutrition, physical exercise and brain stimulation.
However, we often forget to give due importance to “Sleep”, which, in fact, is as crucial as nutrition for the right development of children, especially, infants and toddlers.
It is common knowledge that infants spend 15-22 hours/day sleeping, while children spend 10-12 hours/day sleeping. A substantial amount of growth happens during sleep, as the secretions of human growth hormone peak throughout the night. Their bodies grow, muscles and bones strengthen, and the brain creates long and short terms memories during this vital period.
The importance of a good night’s sleep for children is therefore paramount. It can be assured by:
1. A good sleep environment
2. Behavioural, emotional and physical well-being of children
A good sleep environment:
Sleep environment encompasses all external factors that may affect the child’s sleep. These factors can be controlled by making the right choices and should be closely monitored.
1) Right Bed:
i. Baby Cot/Crib- The best practice is to make the baby sleep beside the mother in a separate crib or cot. A separate crib is the safest place for the baby. Many developed countries in the world have therefore made it legally compulsory to put your baby in a crib for the first six months/one year of their life.
ii. Toddler/ Child Bed- Your child’s bed should be sturdy and support the mattress well. It should also provide adequate space and safety measures.
2) Right Mattress: Mattress is the most important component of the sleep environment, as it is responsible for supporting your child throughout the night – making it a crucial decision.
i. FIRM- Leading paediatric association such as the American Association of Pediatrics, define the right baby mattresses to be “FIRM”. They should neither be too hard nor soft. Children up to 10 years of age should also sleep on firm mattresses as they ensure equal distribution of weight.
ii. Unused – For hygiene and health reasons, your child’s mattress should always be new and unused.
iii. Breathable – A breathable mattress ensures that the temperature is controlled, there is no manifestation of germs. It also reduces chances of suffocation for babies.
iv. Natural and Certified – A good mattress should preferably be made from natural, high quality materials. The materials used should be certified safe.
v. Trustworthy- Buy your child’s mattress from a company that is experienced, and you can trust.