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Article: Should You Be Concerned If Your Baby Is Sleeping More Than Usual?

Should You Be Concerned If Your Baby Is Sleeping More Than Usual?

Should You Be Concerned If Your Baby Is Sleeping More Than Usual?

As parents, we become accustomed to our baby's normal sleep routines and can notice when something changes. If your once active baby is suddenly sleeping longer stretches or taking more frequent naps, it's natural to wonder if something could be wrong. While fluctuations in sleep are common in infants, a significant increase in sleep may cause concerns about an underlying issue. However, more often than not, the extra sleep is simply a normal phase of development and growth. Before worrying too much, it's important to understand the possible reasons why your baby is catching up on shut-eye.

How long do newborn babies typically sleep?

Here are some general guidelines for how much newborn babies typically sleep:

Newborns (0-3 months old) sleep 16-18 hours per day, but not continuously. They wake frequently to feed.

Sleep occurs in short intervals - usually 1-4 hours at a time. Waking for feeding is normal every 2-4 hours.

At night, newborns may sleep for longer stretches towards the later part of the night, like 5-6 hours. But waking up 1-2 times is still normal.

Daytime naps are usually shorter, about 30-45 minutes. Newborns may nap 8-10 times per day.

As babies get older from 1-3 months, nighttime sleep gradually increases to 5-6 hours in longer stretches. Daytime naps also lengthen.

By around 3-4 months, most babies are sleeping for 5-6 hour stretches at night and longer naps during the day.

However, sleep needs vary greatly between babies. Some sleep more, some less. Frequent waking and short sleep periods are normal in early months as their digestive and neurological systems develop.

What are some common reasons for a baby to sleep more than usual?

Growth spurts

Babies typically experience growth spurts around 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months of age.

During these periods, infants can sleep significantly more, sometimes up to 20 hours per day, as their bodies focus on growth and development.

The increased sleep provides energy and allows the body to work overtime to support rapid weight gain, increase in height and brain/organ maturation.

Sleep patterns may change in the few days preceding or following a growth spurt. Extra naps or longer night sleep are common.

Illness

When getting sick, even a minor cold or ear infection, a baby's immune system kicks into overdrive to fight the illness.

Sleep is the body's way to divert resources away from unnecessary functions and towards strengthening the immune response.

Longer sleep periods give the body time to rest and recover without expending energy on being awake and active.

Symptoms like fever or cough may also make the baby more tired and comfortable sleeping.

Teething

The process of teething can cause discomfort, pain, and symptoms like excessive drooling, irritability and low-grade fevers in infants.

Gums become swollen and tender as teeth emerge, distracting babies from their usual activities.

More sleep allows babes to disengage from stimuli and find relief from teething pain and distress during nap times.

Medicines given for teething can have a sedative effect adding to sleepiness.

Milestone development

Around 2-4 months when babies learn skills like rolling over, sitting up, crawling etc., they practice these new milestones during sleep through REM sleep and physical development

The extra consolidation of these newly learned motor skills requires increased sleep time for babies to integrate their learnings.

Solid food introduction

Starting cereals and purees brings in more calories and nutrients for growing infants.

Baby boy in highchair eating vegetables alone

Their digestive systems work overtime to break down and process these new, complex solid foods

Baby may sleep for longer stretches as the body prioritizes digestion over being awake and active.

Medications

If prescribed medicines like those for reflux or allergies, the ingredients can sometimes cause drowsiness as a side effect

Changes in sleep patterns may occur as the body adjusts to the effects of new medications.

Schedule changes

Disruptions in nap routine and bedtimes, such as due to travel or daycare starting, may destabilize sleep-wake cycles

Extra sleep helps very young babies return to their normal sleep-wake rhythm after a change in schedule.

Personality

Each baby has their own temperament and biological makeup that affects sleep needs naturally

Meeting normal infant development benchmarks is most important versus duration alone.

How can I tell if my newborn is sleeping too much?

If your little one seems to be snoozing way more than normal babies, there could be cause for concern. But first, don't panic. Newborns do a ton of sleeping as it is.

Pay attention to how long and often they're nodding off. In general, a newborn should be awake for an hour or two at a time, whether feeding, gazing around or playing with toys and you.

If they're sleeping for 3 hours or more at a stretch regularly during the day, that's a sign something might be up. Also watch out if they're constantly tired and drowsy even when being fed or held.

Make sure to gently wake your little one every few hours to feed, even if they seem quite content snoozing. They need those calories to grow well.

Check with your doctor right away if your baby seems excessively sleepy and not very alert when awake. They may want to rule out any issues.

See if they rouse easily from sounds or your touch like normal babies do. If it seems really hard to get a reaction from them, have the doc take a look.

So in a nutshell - stay tuned in to how much awake time vs sleep time bub gets. And talk to their pediatrician promptly if they seem overly lethargic rather than their usual energetic little self when the eyes are open! 

Sleeping Newborn Baby

Conclusion

As parents, we get to know our baby's typical sleep patterns very well. A sudden change can understandably trigger concerns. However, it's important to remember that babies go through various growth phases that may result in more sleep needs.

Before jumping to worries, take note of how your little one seems when awake - are they content, engaging with you normally, meeting their daily milestones as expected? If so, the extra snooze time is likely nothing to stress over. All infants have their own natural sleep rhythms too.

If the excessive sleep is accompanied by other signs of being unwell, like lethargy, loss of appetite or distress during waking hours, then it's best to consult your pediatrician just to rule out any underlying issues. They can examine your baby and ease your mind.

Remember that sleeping babies need loving caregivers, not anxious ones. Stay aware of changes but try not to overthink each day's naps. Be confident in your parenting so far and trust your baby's growing, developing body knows what it needs. With time and patience, this new phase will pass too.

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Yujia Shi

An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Angel's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.

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