Smarter Babies Take Their Naps

As you know, getting the right amount of sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health and your life. Frequent naps can give a boost to the brain power of your growing baby too, according to a new study.

University of Arizona psychologists tested their "napping" theory on 48 babies (all of them 15 months old) by playing nonsensical sounds during learning sessions, all of which contained one specific pattern. Before testing their level of attention for those similar sounds, babies were divided into groups who would hear the sounds either after taking a nap or without a nap entirely.

No surprise, babies who took naps in between learning and testing sessions performed better than those who didn't. Granted, the babies who got no sleep did recognize the phrases they learned earlier, yet those who slept in between those sessions were better equipped to handle abstract learning, the ability to recognize general patterns in new information.

This ability signals a qualitative change in memory that plays an essential role in a baby's cognitive development, researchers said. Getting the right amount of sleep at night will also improve a baby's ability to learn as he or she grows up too.

One nutritional means to make your baby smarter: Take a high-quality fish or krill oil daily.

Psychological Science, Vol. 17, No. 8, August 2006: 670

Science Blog August 14, 2006

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