Small babies tend to sleep longer and nap
frequently. As they grow in age, the sleep duration reduces, and children by
the age of 5 years often give up napping. However, sleeping patterns vary
widely among children.
A study was conducted in Canada that evaluated the
influence of genetic and environmental factors on sleep patterns of infants and
toddlers. The babies were either identical twins who are genetically similar,
or fraternal twins, who have different genetic make-ups. Mothers reported
the sleep patterns at 6, 18, 30 and 48 months of age.
The researchers felt from the mothers' observations
that genes mainly influence sleeping habits in babies. Daytime napping was more
dependent on environmental factors, especially in the toddler stage.
A sleeping routine can be established once the child
is a little older especially around 18 months of age. This could include a
consistent bedtime and some soothing activity before sleeping like reading a
book or listening to soft music. Kids should be put to bed while they are
drowsy but still awake so that they learn how to fall asleep. The researchers
do not approve trying to keep the toddler awake and depriving a nap during the
day so that they can sleep better at night.
Too less sleep makes a child irritable and cranky, whereas too much time
in bed may result in the child waking up multiple times. Thus, it is necessary
to find a balance between sleeping and waking up times to ensure that the
babies as well as the parents are well rested.