Making the infants take naps makes their memory development process better, claims a new study.
A new study, which is the first of its kind, from the University of Sheffield and Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, has revealed that babies learn best when they are sleepy. Daytime nap of 30 minutes helps infants to develop their memory and retain new behaviours they have learnt.
The researchers found that the notion of "sleeping like a baby" was extremely important in declarative memory consolidation, and explored whether daytime sleep after learning helped babies to remember new behaviour. The study focused on 216 healthy six to 12 month-old infants and tested their ability to recall newly learned skills.
The study showed that only infants who had napped after the learning activity remembered the target actions whilst those who hadn't napped showed no evidence of remembering the new information and behaviour.
After a 24 hour delay children in the napping group also exhibited significantly better recall compared with infants in the no-nap group.
Researcher Dr Jane Herbert said that until now people had presumed that the best time for infants to learn was when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but their results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.
The study, which also says bedtime stories are invaluable for a child's development, suggests that allowing flexible napping schedules in response to different daily schedules could help ensure optimal learning conditions for infants.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).