Why Sleep?

why sleep


What do people say to a new mom who has just quit a high paying, high profile job to stay at home with her newborn? Or to the mom that wants all the bonding time in the world with her baby before she has to return to work in six weeks?

“You know all those books you have put off reading?”

“What about all those movies you have wanted to watch?”

“Sit back and put your feet up.  Your body has just grown a human. Your body is still adapting and your infant needs about 18 hours of sleep per day.”

This translates into a lot of down time for mom: time to reflect on what you would be doing right now if you were at work and time for the “B” word to creep into your vocabulary. Boredom.

As a young mom, the tendency is to try to return to the frantic pace of pre-pregnancy life, making up for lost time and lost social engagements. Put the baby in the car seat and go. She can catch a nap as I grocery shop, meet with a friend for coffee, or go to the doctor’s office, you think.

With 18 hours of sleep to get under her proverbial belt, your baby needs routine.  She needs the opportunity to learn how to get long periods of sleep, 1 ½ – 2 hours at a stretch for naps and even longer for nighttime sleep.  This can present a problem for the “nap and go mom”.  Doing it occasionally is fine, but as the norm it may present some sleep problems.  You may want to catch up on social engagements but it is important to stay home and let your baby sleep.

Why is sleep important?

Take a minute to consider all that occurs within the first year of life.  Your child will transform from a helpless newborn to a smiling, babbling, mobile toddler.  Most of this remarkable change happens when she is sleeping.  According to Web MD, those who get age-appropriate sleep are generally more sociable and have a stronger immune system.  Children who get appropriate amounts of sleep grow into learners with a lower incidence of ADD/ADHD.

What happens when babies sleep?

  • New information is processed. Daily, babies are bombarded with new sights, sounds, and experiences.
  • Bone, muscle, and brain development occurs.
  • Tissues damaged during the day are repaired.
  • Her circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) will be established.
  • Neurological development occurs.

Training infants to sleep in a predictable location with familiar sights, sounds, smells, and objects can be viewed as a gift of a lifetime. All too soon the “bored” mom will appreciate routine naptimes and bedtimes for a well-deserved break from a very busy pre-toddler or toddler.


Patricia Lentz has been married to Tim for 38 years. They have 5 children and 5 grandchildren. Patricia and her husband have been using and teaching GFI material for over 25 years. She spends her days counseling young moms, writing, and traveling to spend time with her grandchildren. 


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