Sleep is one of the most discussed topics in toddler health care. All new parents are asked to be prepared for sleepless nights as a part of their journey. It is common knowledge that toddlers and parents do not get sufficient sleep till the child gets accustomed to a sleep plan. Providing them with a comfortable, relaxing environment to sleep throughout the night is step one.
However, often, in obsessing over the little things, we forget the crucial elements that matter. The mattress your toddler sleeps on is one of them. As the toddler transitions from a cot to a bed, a lot of elements are to be taken into consideration.
While sleep requirements among toddlers may differ, 12-14 hours is the ideal number of sleeping hours over the 24-hour period. At the tender age of 18-36 months, the toddler’s spine has moved on from a C to an S. The spine is constantly developing, and it is important to invest in a mattress that supports the body. The bones, hormones and the brain develop most at night for children. Therefore, it is important for the child to receive adequate sleep every night. A poor mattress would hinder the optimal growth of the child’s body.
Memory foam mattresses are dense and supportive. It would prevent the child from rolling, fidgeting and waking up restless. It would provide adequate support to the spine and neck, allowing the bones to develop in alignment. It is important to test mattress thickness and firmness before committing to a purchase. This can be done in the lengthy trial periods offered by many manufacturers.
Retaining learning and memory
As children are still getting accustomed to the ways of the world, they are processing large amounts of information every day. At the end of the day, as they sleep, the learnings are transformed into memories. However, with lack of adequate sleep, the brain’s ability to retain these memories are affected. This is a problem more serious than just dealing with a grumpy child. Processing memories and learning from their days is a huge part of the intellectual development of the toddler. Children who had irregular bedtimes in the age group of 0-3 years were found to be lacking in reading skills, spatial awareness and math skills.
A poor mattress can hinder quality sleep and thereby cause problems in the cognitive development of the child. To avoid picking the wrong mattress, use a mattress buying guide to swerve you in the right direction. It will allow you to make the right choice depending on the sleeping positions of your child and mattress needs they might have.
Children who slept lesser than ten hours were found to develop brain disorders like ADHD once they grew up. Neuroplasticity is the alterations in the neural synapses and pathways as a result of environmental and behavioural changes. It occurs as the individual learns, processes and memorizes new data. These changes are much more prevalent in children than in adults, especially during the first three years. Studies show the rapid development of neurons among young children as they learn new skills. There has been an established relationship between neuroplasticity and sleep. Sufficient REM sleep among toddlers sets the foundations for later learning skills and cognitive function.
Continued sleep problems
Children are still learning bedtime, day time and activities that go with them. Those who are excited by things happening around them try to stay awake by fighting the fatigue. However, this leads to irritability and annoyance. The problem with allowing this behaviour is that sleep problems tend to continue into adulthood if it isn’t solved early on. Discipline and set schedules are very important to develop a rigid body clock among toddlers, that will then continue into their teens.
As is for adults, children need to rest and relax after a long day. The lack of it can affect the immune system, making the child prone to illnesses. Many studies have shown the importance of adequate sleep to prepare the body to fight pathogens and viruses. With the onset of illnesses, the body requires additional sleep to fight infections.
The healthy bacteria in our bodies are also adversely affected by lack of sleep. With sleep disruptions, the healthy bacteria in our child’s gut can no longer efficiently digest the nutrients consumed during the day leading to weak gut health.
While it is safe to say that a lot of external problems play a large part in a child’s sleep behaviour, there are many things in our control that can contribute to healthy sleep schedules. A good mattress is especially important for your child as they develop and grow rapidly each day. Rigid schedules of sleep, mattress fit for your child and a bedroom conducive to relaxation are some ways you can overcome sleep problems among toddlers.
However, it is important to note that some mattress choices can also impair your child’s health. Some mattresses are doused in chemicals and created with various toxic materials like petroleum products, flame retardant chemicals, boric acids and so on. These chemicals leak out over long periods of time, which can negatively affect the sleeper. Many mattress manufacturers are now addressing these concerns by inculcating natural and safe materials in the production process.
In addition to investing in a good mattress, developing healthy sleeping rituals from a very young age can lead to disciplined sleeping habits as they grow. Some sleep rituals like a warm bath before bedtime, reading a good book, singing a soothing lullaby and bedtime chats can put your child straight to sleep. It will also cause them to feel sleepy when the ritual starts every night, automatically setting a schedule. Some children also adore bedtime massages that will help their body relax further. At this time, it is important to keep the toys and other stimulus away. Children at that age are easily excitable with loud noises, funny cartoons and colourful toys. Bedtime should constitute relaxing sounds and darkness that welcomes sleep.