Developmental Benefits of Night Waking for Baby

Your baby does what he does for a reason. While babies behave vastly different from older children and from adults (well, most adults, anyways) it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing what’s right for them. Babies are functioning as designed. They do the things they do for a specific purpose.

Take, for example, the continually frustrating issue of night waking. Parents loathe those first few months of their baby’s life during which they are almost guaranteed to be up once or more during the night. We adults like our unbroken sleep, and baby’s night waking puts a major cramp in our style.

Babies, however, know what they’re doing. Some sleep researchers actually believe that babies sleep much more efficiently than adults. They suggest that the light sleep that babies do so much of actually helps contribute to development. The brain doesn’t rest during that light, REM sleep. Some research suggests that blood flow to your baby’s brain actually doubles when she’s in REM sleep.

In addition, the body makes more of certain types of nerve proteins during REM sleep. These nerve proteins are the building blocks that make up the brain. Researchers also believe that learning occurs during light sleep. Your baby’s brain is using that time to process all of the information that it received when it was awake. It decides what’s useful, what’s worth keeping, and what’s not worth keeping.

The brain may experience a sort of auto stimulation during REM sleep, too. This creates beneficial imagery in your baby’s mind, and that helps to promote your baby’s mental development. The higher centers in your baby’s brain continue to operate during REM sleep.

So, the next time you’re up at 3 AM and frustrated with the fact that your baby keeps waking up, just remember what’s really going on. Be glad your baby is normal and healthy, and that your baby is developing in the way that she is supposed to be developing.