How Napping May Be key to Learning for Babies


Do babies buck the trend of looking at things with fresh eyes? A recent study seems to indicate that.

New research shows that babies in their first year of life can retain more information right before taking a long nap.

The researchers from the University of Sheffield, England ran a trial with 216 babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

The study involved them teaching each baby three new tasks based on playing with hand puppets. Approximately half of the babies went to sleep for at least 30 minutes, within 4 hours whilst the other half either didn?t sleep or slept for less than 30 minutes.

The following day the babies were asked to repeat what they were taught, and on average the group that slept a long time could complete 1.5 tasks, while the group that didn’t sleep couldn’t do any.

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Dr. Jane Herbert, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology worked with researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany said that ?The optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep?. The study essentially found that without a nap, babies completely forgot what they had learned.

Dr. Herbert went on to say ?We did not get clear evidence for ?the more, the better,? effect of sleep in our study, but we speculate that allowing more frequent naps on days when infants have a lot of new information to digest might help them to process that information better?

In other words ?If your baby is falling asleep on the way home after a busy trip to the park, there may be benefits to letting him or her continue that nap, even if that is different from their normal sleep routine.? she added.

This study effectively ‘shows just how valuable activities like reading books with young children just before they go down to sleep can be?

The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences