This post is part of our series on infant sleep and its effects on development, published in collaboration with the journal, „Infant Behavior and Development.“ The featured research appeared in a special issue on the impact of infant sleep on cognitive, social, and physical development, and how parents and caregivers can promote healthy sleep and development in infants.
Key takeaways for caregivers:
– The intake of new emotionally relevant information by babies may vary depending on the time of their last sleep. After longer periods of wakefulness, babies become accustomed to negative emotional information.
– Supporting babies in their sleep needs, for example, by adhering to consistent bedtime routines, can promote their well-being.
– Sleep helps babies grow and develop. It plays a crucial role in their physical growth and cognitive development, including learning and memory.
The study aimed to investigate how easily babies recognize human faces displaying different emotional expressions, depending on whether they had recently slept or been awake for an extended period. The results were surprising, as babies were actually better at recognizing angry and sad faces after being awake for a longer time, compared to after a recent nap.
This raises questions about how infants perceive their social world during different phases of their sleep-wake cycle. While our study was small and the findings preliminary, the results suggest that the timing of sleep may influence the type of information babies focus on and process.
In conclusion, understanding the role of sleep in early development is important, as it can impact a baby’s learning ability and social interactions throughout the day. Recognizing signs of fatigue in babies and adjusting their sleep schedules as they grow can support them in reaping the benefits of good sleep.