Research has found that sleep plays an important role in the strengthening of procedural memory i.e. practical skills/motor skills. The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which involves dreaming is when consolidation of memory takes place. Our brain reacts to REM the same way as during practising tasks.
For the most benefit, the REM sleep needs to occur within 24 hours of learning the skill. Otherwise, no learning takes place. Not surprisingly children need the most naps and sleep to solidify the memory.
Declarative memory is our factual memory. Example: Capitals of countries, mostly academic learning, etc. For this type of memory, slow-wave sleep is essential. School going children/teenagers need proper quality and more quantities of naps. The brain seems to replay the information repetitively thereby transferring it too long term memory.
Healthy sleep hygiene from an early age is a must. Not sleeping properly confuses our bodies as though it is in jetlag. Disorienting us. Understanding the link between learning and sleep puts us at an advantage and we need to make sure that children sleep on time and often.
Note: Infants need to be fed during the night time as well as the morning. They need to be physically close to their mother. Regardless of what others say. An infant who is not properly taken care of may suffer from anxiety and frequent crying spells. Do not force your infant to be away from you and do not force him/her to follow a sleep pattern. Every child is unique. Some babies vary greatly in temperament, some being much more anxious and fussy (especially low-birthweight or born to mothers under stress during pregnancy) and therefore take a longer time than average to settle into a proper sleep routine.
Make sure to be caring, confident and consistent in child-rearing.
Read parenting styles to understand what would work best for your child.