Many newborns tend to sleep a lot during their first few months. In most cases, newborns sleep in small blocks and have irregular schedules waking up sporadically to feed. These are the beautiful perils of being a new parent or having another child.
However, can a baby sleep too much? The truth is that, yes, babies can sleep too much. Parents need to understand what normal is so they can stay on top of their newborn’s health as well as their own.
Understanding Why Babies Sleep So Much
Newborn babies sleep just as much during the day as they do at night. Their little bodies and brains are growing and developing, which means they need as much rest as they can get.
Not to mention, they haven’t yet become acquainted with the difference between day and night to know that nighttime is bedtime. In fact, it can take six months or more for a baby to develop a circadian rhythm.
It’s normal for parents and caretakers to worry if their baby is getting adequate sleep, whether they are healthy and developing as they should. It is vital for parents to monitor their newborns and work with their pediatricians to ensure that they are healthy.
Each Baby’s “Normal” is Unique
Newborns sleep around eight hours during the day and eight hours or more at night. They tend to sleep for an hour or two and wake up to feed. So don’t panic when your newborn seems to only be awake for feeding.
This stage is tender for newborns as they’re growing consistently and will be experiencing various growth spurts. When those growth spurts happen, some newborns even sleep through feeding time. However, please understand that this is not normal for every baby.
Grow spurts are a big part of infant development. Research shows that babies experience growth spurts during the following phases:
- Within the first couple of days
- One week to 10 days
- 14 to 21 days
- 28 to 42 days
- 90 days or three months
- 120 days or four months
- 180 days or six months
- 270 days are nine months
But can a baby sleep too much during a growth spurt? Understanding the approximate growth spurt times is essential to help alleviate worry around your baby sleeping more than usual and monitoring your baby’s health. When a growth spurt happens, the baby will sleep more than usual. Therefore a little extra snoozing is needed but doesn’t warrant a problem unless there are accompanying symptoms.
Symptoms to Look Out for
When can a baby sleep too much? There are several symptoms that a newborn may experience. While some symptoms may be minor, others could be warning signs of a more severe infection or medical condition. If you have any questions about their symptoms, it is always essential to contact your pediatrician. Here are some of the signs you should look out for that may cause your baby to sleep more:
Symptoms of the common cold include a runny and stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, irritability, trouble nursing, loss of appetite, and mucus that changes color from clear to yellow.
Dehydration and Hunger
- Dehydration will cause your baby to sleep more because they don’t have the energy to function normally. They may seem very lethargic.
- One telltale sign that they are dehydrated is inconsistent weight gain. Once your baby is six weeks old, they should be gaining 4 to 6 ounces of weight each week.
- Another sign that your baby is dehydrated is the number of wet diapers they produce each day. Anything less than four diapers per day is a good signal that they’re not getting enough food. Always consult your pediatrician to be sure.
- A newborn will develop a fever as a result of an infection. A temperature of more than 100.4 F is considered a fever for newborns. If your baby is less than three months old and develops a fever, contact your pediatrician right away, as it can be a sign of a more severe infection.
- Medical conditions such as heart disease and respiratory disease cause your baby to sleep more than usual. At this stage, it is vital to stay in touch with your pediatrician to manage your new baby’s health effectively.
- Jaundice occurs when the baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes turn yellow or brown. Babies develop jaundice because there is excess bilirubin in the blood. Believe it or not, more than 60% of all infants develop jaundice in the United States.
- If the levels of bilirubin in the blood are very high, it may cause your baby to sleep more than usual, as well as an increase in irritability and difficulty eating.
Average Sleep Times
The amount of time your baby sleeps will differ from other infants. However, it is still essential to understand what’s sleep times are considered normal.
Average Sleep for a Newborn
Most newborns sleep between 14 and 17 hours every single day. Some may sleep up to 19 hours. Newborns will wake up every three to four hours to feed. Breast-fed babies tend to wake up more often, between one and three hours to feed.
Average Sleep for a 6-Month-Old
Babies that are about six months old typically tend to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, babies this age sleep up to four hours each session and up to 9 hours at night.
Average Sleep for 12-Month-Old
Babies who are 12 months old tend to sleep between 11 and 14 hours per 24 hours. One-year-old babies tend to take a three-hour nap during the day and sleep up to nine hours at night.
Average Sleep for Toddler
Toddlers up to two years old usually sleep between 11 and 14 hours with a two to three-hour nap throughout the day.
To give you a better example of how the amount of sleep for your child will decrease as they get older, let’s look at the recommended sleep times from the sleep foundation.
As a child gets older, the amount of sleep they need will decrease. By the time your toddler turns three years old, they may only need 10 hours of sleep.
By the time your child goes to kindergarten, they may only need nine hours of sleep per night.
What to Expect
Now that we understand why and how much babies sleep, let’s look at the symptoms of a baby who doesn’t get enough sleep.
When a baby does not get enough sleep, they will feel exhausted and moody just as an adult does. In many cases, they will also be easily irritable and wired but unable to relax.
In other words, if your baby isn’t getting the sleep they need, they will be cranky until they do.
It is crucial to create a healthy and peaceful atmosphere for your baby to get the sleep they need. Babies who don’t get the amount of deep sleep they need could experience issues in their development and regular growth patterns.
How to Manage Oversleeping
Once you ensure that your baby’s excess sleeping is not related to an illness or possible growth spurt, you have options to address it.
You May Need to Interrupt the Beauty Rest
Interrupting your baby’s sleep may seem like the wrong thing to do. However, if they regularly nap more than the recommended amount of hours, it’s perfectly safe to do so. One way to wake your sleeping beauty from their slumber is to change their routine.
Getting out of the house and participating in some sort of activity where you can bring the baby along will keep them awake longer. Joining a new mothers group and going on a stroller walk is an excellent example of getting out of the house.
The stroll will get you and your baby fresh air while keeping them awake. The biggest perk is that you get to be active and burn calories that will help you get back down to your pre-baby weight while you enjoy your baby.
Let’s not forget that it allows you to meet other new moms. These groups provide a circle of social support for new mothers. It gives them the opportunity to relate to one another and share methods of coping with new motherhood.
Waking your baby up for regular feedings is another way to break the cycle of oversleeping. For example, if the baby sleeps longer than usual, you can wake them up every three hours to breastfeed.
Doing this ensures that they are getting the nutrients they need while keeping milk production steady.
Many newborns under one month tend to sleep through feeding times. Gently wake them up by softly touching their cheeks and hands. If that doesn’t work, you can try caressing their toes and the bottoms of their feet.
Breast milk digests much easier than formula, which is why babies that breastfeed tend to feed more often. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help keep the baby healthy through development.
It fights off bacteria and viruses while lowering the baby’s risk of developing allergies or other respiratory illnesses. Studies show that babies that are breastfed experience fewer respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, and ear infections.
Waking your baby up for regular feedings can help them sleep longer through the night.
Creating a Daily Routine
Creating a daily routine can help break up the oversnoozing. For example, having a set time for an evening bath and soothing gives you the time just to love your baby and enjoy the days of new motherhood.
Keep in mind that a newborn under two months will need the rest for effective development. It is important not to attempt to create a routine to break up oversleeping too soon. The best time to create a daily routine with your baby is between two and four months.
It is vital to understand that your baby won’t continue to over snooze. As they get older, the amount of time they sleep should decrease.
Just as waking up multiple times in the night for feedings is temporary. These are all things to cherish and appreciate in the process of parenthood.
If the amount of hours your baby sleeps doesn’t change over time, consult your pediatrician to better understand your babies’ health status and what could be normal for them.
Create a Steady Sleep Schedule
Creating a routine with your baby is a big part of creating a steady sleep schedule. For example, bathing your baby each night followed by cuddles will help to establish this habit.
Making feeding times and exercise routines follow the same schedule each day gives the baby structure in sleeping and wake times. As hard as it may be with a newborn, creating a steady program will only help you in the long run.
Keep a Sleep Log
If you are concerned about your baby sleeping too much, keep a sleep log. Write down what time your baby goes to sleep and what time they wake up. A video baby monitor will also help keep your mind at ease and help you track your baby’s sleep.
Count how many wet diapers they produce each day.
Do this for at least two days to determine if your baby is sleeping more than recommended—also, factor in possible growth spurts.
When to Contact the Pediatrician
Don’t be afraid to contact your pediatrician with questions regarding your baby’s sleeping habits. It is better to confront any possible issue with questions to a professional than to try and figure them out on your own. Pediatricians are there to help you in these situations, so there’s no reason why you need to stress when you can get in touch with a health professional.
So, can a baby sleep too much? While many newborns sleep a lot during the first few months, it is vital to understand that they can oversleep. Newborns oversleep because they are experiencing a growth spurt or simply because their standard sleep time might differ from recommended sleep times.
Oversleeping is more common than you may know. However, you need to see your pediatrician if you notice other symptoms such as dehydration, the common cold, fever, chronic disease, or jaundice.
Once you understand that oversleeping is not associated with any illness, begin to create a routine that will help structure your day around your newborn while giving them adequate sleep and wake times for proper feeding and resting.