Babies spend up to 70% of their time sleeping. As a parent—whether it’s your first or third child—you might be unable to resist the urge to watch over your child round-the-clock, especially while they’re asleep.
But monitoring your baby while they’re asleep goes beyond staring at that cute little face and keeping a watchful eye. Today’s smart monitors go beyond just audio and video monitoring.
The truth is that children need lots of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that newborns sleep for 14 and 17 hours, infants for 12 and 15 hours, and toddlers for 11 and 14 hours per day. Children who don’t get enough sleep may be prone to poor physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of children between 4 months and 17 years don’t get enough sleep.
Let’s dive into why monitoring your child’s sleep and breathing trends is so important.
Why do sleep and breathing trends matter in children?
Your child’s sleep and breathing patterns say a lot about their health and wellbeing.
Healthy sleep hygiene is indispensable to a growing child, supporting proper physical and mental development.
Children who sleep well feel refreshed when they’re awake. Sleep helps with learning, memory, creative thinking, emotion regulation, and language formation. On the flip side, poor sleep is tied to thinking, behavioral, emotional, and physical health problems, which can have a lasting impact on their wellbeing.
If you don’t monitor your child’s sleep, you might only know if they’re sleep deprived through daytime signs. When babies and toddlers don’t sleep well, they may:
- Act clingy
- Throw tantrums
- Look tired
- Cry a lot
- Yawn excessively
- Rub their eyes
- Have no interest in playing
Generally, children who lack sleep show signs like:
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Poor attention
- Dark eye circles
- Mood swings
- Problems concentrating
Your child’s breathing pattern matters as much as their sleep health. Children breathe faster than adults. The average respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute in newborns, is about 40 to 60 breaths per minute while awake and about 30 to 40 breaths per minute while asleep. If your child’s breathing is outside the typical range, it might indicate a general wellness change like stress from a change in sleeping conditions or potentially respiratory problems like bronchiolitis or asthma. Your child’s breathing may also be unusual when they have a fever or are generally unwell.
When you’re aware of your child’s sleeping habits and breathing patterns, you can tell when something changes or variates from their trends and determine when you need to speak with your provider. The first signs that your child is unwell or that there has been a disruption to their routine might appear in how they’ve been sleeping and breathing.
What to do if your child’s sleep and breathing trends indicate a problem
If you monitor your child’s sleep and breathing, and the trends show there has been a change in their usual sleeping and breathing patterns, consider paying attention to how your child is doing. Have there been any other changes in their overall wellbeing? With this information you may choose to speak with your provider to gain a greater understanding of what’s going on.
If you notice your child’s sleep quality has been poor for an extended period of time, it maybe be helpful to revisit some sleep hygiene practices like:
- Create a consistent bedtime schedule: A bedtime schedule can prime your child for sleep at the appropriate time. Ensure you prepare your child for sleep at fixed times every day; before you know it, they fall asleep quickly once it’s bedtime.
- Make their room a sleep haven: Keep your child’s room conducive to relaxation and sleep by keeping it cool, dark, quiet, and tidy.
- Teach your child to fall asleep on their own: Research suggests that babies who can’t fall asleep on their own or require rocking or patting to fall asleep may be prone to waking up at night. Train them to sleep independently by putting them to bed when they’re still awake but are starting to doze off.
- Keep electronic devices outside the room: Electronic gadgets like TVs, tablets, or phones can stimulate your child and keep them alert even when it’s bedtime. Keep these gadgets out of their room to limit their screen time in the evenings and keep them from distracting themselves with it when they should be winding down.
- Create a bedtime routine: Your child can get used to falling asleep at a specific time when they have a routine that preps them for bedtime. This routine might involve turning off the tv or tablet about an hour before bedtime, giving them a warm bath, brushing their teeth, putting them in their pajamas, reading them a bedtime story, and singing lullabies until they fall asleep.
- Adjust daily habits: Spend time outdoors with your child. Play fun outdoor games, exercise, take walks, etc., to ensure they get their daily sunlight to keep them awake and alert during the day so their mind is ready to recover and rest at night.
Along the way, remember: healthy sleep is a lifelong journey. Changes may not immediately occur, and that’s ok! It will be a gradual process, and like a newborn sleep regression, you may find yourself wondering ‘What is going on!’. Be gentle with yourself and mindful of the pressures you put on your child, your family, and you too!
Finally, you know your child best. No monitoring device is a substitute for your own best judgment and care. If you feel that something is off, always speak with your provider or a qualified professional.
Care+ is a new wellness tool from Miku to help you stay aware of important changes in your little one’s sleep and breathing patterns over time using trend graphs and trend notifications on a comprehensive wellness dashboard within your Miku App. With a better understanding of the factors that impact your child’s sleep and wellness, you can adjust daily habits and nightly routines or discuss any inconsistencies with your provider. Read more about Care+ here.