Sleep makes your baby smarter!

Sleep is beneficial for physical growth, health, and as a recent study shows, naps also increase learning in infants.

The Max Planck study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that naps help our children retain the skills or knowledge they just acquired.

Research was done on 90 infants between the ages of 9 and 16 months. The infants were taught a skill and then some of the children had a nap between 30 minutes and 2 hours in length. The rest of the infants did not sleep. Later, the babies were presented with the same situation and the children who had napped were able to repeat the skill. The children who did not nap, struggled and were not able to do it.

The researchers monitored the brain activity of the infants during the testing. “The team found significant differences between the brain activity of the babies who slept and the babies who stayed awake in between sessions.”

The study suggested that babies need their nap time to categorize or move into memory the learning they have done; it improves their ability to retain recent learning. This was true for all of the babies, regardless of their age. The naps needed to be at least 30 minutes in length for retention of new skills. If they were less than 30 minutes the results were the same as no nap.

This study shows us the importance of making naps a priority. Your child is learning many new skills in the first years of their life. You can improve their learning by giving them a good nap after they have struggled to learn to sit, crawl, talk or any of the other tasks they are attempting to master.

Babies, ages five months until eight or nine months, need three naps per day. The first two naps should be at least one-hour in length. The third nap should be thirty to forty-five minutes in length.

Infants over nine months need two naps per day until they are between thirteen to seventeen months. Toddlers need one nap lasting one to two hours.

Naps are important for growth and learning.

Helping Babies Sleep


Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

Infant Tummy Massage to Relieve Gas

To see the complete massage instructional video: