At the end of the day, baby whisperer Dorothy Waide is convinced of the power and purpose of sleep - for babies and parents alike.
Confused by conflicting advice, people often ask me for the rules and regulations regarding sleep. The reality is the amount of sleep a baby needs differs from human to human. But what I can say for certain is that sleep is important to a baby’s development. Vitally important.
As a guide, most newborns will sleep approximately 16 hours in a 24-hour period, but this will vary from day to day. Some babies need more sleep, and others not so much. How well your baby sleeps will influence your baby’s feeding rhythms, thus having a significant effect on you and your family.
Some parents assume that their baby instinctively knows how to establish healthy sleep patterns, but in my experience, newborns need guidance to learn how to self-settle, resettle and sleep soundly.
By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake; and overall a child will spend 40 per cent of their childhood asleep. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly affects mental and physical development.
Power and purpose
In society we talk about food as a nutrient, but it is important to understand that sleep is also a nutrient and is as vital to your baby’s wellbeing as food. Neuroscientists have found that much of your baby’s complex brain development occurs in the weeks immediately before birth and continues at an extraordinary rate throughout the first year of life – much of it while sleeping. At no other point in our lives does this staggering level of brain development take place.
■ Accept help when it is offered. In the ‘good old days’ new parents would usually have their families around them picking up the slack. These days our families are often miles away, and it's perfectly okay for support to come from neighbours and friends.