Why Do Babies Sleep so Much? (Answers from Experienced Moms)
New parents are the happiest when their baby suddenly takes a long nap during the day or a full nighttime sleep. It means more time to rest for you, right!
Yet the extra sleep time might also make you wonder, worry or ask questions like
Can a baby sleep too much?
Why do babies sleep so much?
Momtherly met with different experienced mothers on its team and other mothers and experts to discuss this interesting topic of concern. Based on the discussion, we will be providing detailed information on this topic, “why do babies sleep so much?” below.
Newborns and toddlers require a lot of sleep. However, newborn sleep patterns are usually short and irregular, and it is strange for them to nap for over a few hours at a time.
One of the most challenging tasks of catering for newborns is managing their sleep. Newly born babies are still getting used to experiencing life out of the womb. They can’t follow a typical day’s rhythms or schedules. This reason explains why babies, especially newborns, might not nap at the proper times.
But as your infant grows, his sleep pattern will become more structured. You can easily monitor the number of sleep hours for the day and night he usually logs each day.
Why Do Babies Sleep So Much, Is it Normal for Babies to Sleep So Much?
Yes, it is normal for babies to sleep so much either during the day or at night. A baby can sleep for longer hours, whether he is a newborn or a toddler.
Remember that while in the womb, your baby slept a lot of times and the environment of the uterus kept them warm. Once your infants are born, they may continue sleeping for most of the day.
But generally, a newly born baby that naps all day gives a reason for concern than an older infant who sleeps so much. He might probably sleep for longer hours than that of the older baby when he has had an active day or is sick.
Newly born babies have tiny stomachs, and so they eat frequently to get the needed nourishment. They also get full quickly due to their tummy size.
Irrespective of your feeding style- breastfeeding or formula-feeding, when you hold your child closely and comfortably increases their sleepiness. They can easily fall asleep before getting full, which might result in your baby waking up often to eat.
However, if it seems like your baby is sleeping longer than expected, especially when it is affecting their eating pattern, then it may become a cause for concern.
Although it is tempting to allow your newborn to snooze for extra time, if your infant is not often waking on his own to feed, you will need to wake him.
During the first 2 to 3 weeks, monitor the clock and rouse your infant when it is time for him to eat. Breastfed infants should not stay longer than 2 to 4 hours without eating, while formula-fed kids must eat within 3 to 4 hours.
As regards breastfeeding, allowing your infant to nap for over 2 to 4 hours at a time can prevent him from getting enough food. It can also cause your breast milk supply to dip.
The whole hassle of tracking time to wake your infant to eat won’t last for long. As soon as you have established your baby’s weight gain pattern, the pediatrician should grant a go-ahead for you to rest at night until your infant wakes to eat. This means that you are likely to get more night sleep.
Now, what about older babies or toddlers?
Can they have an excess sleep during the day?
At times, when you allow your kid to sleep for over 4 hours in the daytime, it might mean he will be less tired and more active at night. This could result in them not sleeping during their bedtime or waking up too early in the morning.
In the end, every baby has slightly different needs and sleep patterns. Occasionally, your toddler could be so tired from a busy or active day and so might sleep longer than usual. Sleeping for long hours in the daytime after a busy day is typical, provided that it won’t disrupt your toddler’s nighttime snooze.
On the flip side, sleeping for too long is normal and beneficial to your child when he is sick. Sleep helps babies, teenagers, and even adults combat sicknesses, leading to a faster recovery process.
After all, as an adult, won’t you also love to stay in bed almost all day when you feel sick?
Baby Sleep Patterns by Age
A baby’s age tends to affect his or her sleep patterns during the day or at night. These sleep patterns, in turn, influence how often they wake to eat or play.
Baby Sleep Between 0 to 3 Months
In the first two months of newborns, they sleep on and off during the daytime and nighttime.
Infants have shorter sleep cycles compared to adults and are likely to move or wake after 1 hour. These sleep cycles last for 50 to 60 minutes. Within two months, in newly born babies, their process includes active sleep, quiet and dream sleep.
When babies move or turn and grunt during active sleep, they deeply sleep when having a deep sleep cycle. The dream sleep cycle is moments when your baby is dreaming.
As soon as each cycle ends, infants wake up for some time. They could either sob or cry. You will need to attend to their needs to help them settle for another sleep cycle.
Generally, newly born babies can’t differentiate between day and night, and they sleep for about 14 to 20 hours every 24 hours and wake at intervals requiring food or attention.
During these 0 to 3 years, it is typical for infants to wake regularly (about 2 to 3 times) at nighttime to feed. At 2 to 3 months, infants begin developing day and night sleep patterns, meaning that they tend to sleep more at night.
By the third month (3 months), many infants would have gotten used to the regular patterns of staying awake most time during the day and sleeping longer at night (about 4 to 5 hours). Some babies will still wake once or twice at night to eat. When your infants sleep for around 5 hours without interruption, it is thought of as “sleeping through the night.”
Baby Sleep Between 3 to 6 Months
When will babies start sleeping longer than 3 hours?
Babies between 3 and 6 months continue to get accustomed to regular sleep patterns. If you experience a 3-month-old baby sleeping a lot, it might be normal considering he is settling into the typical sleep patterns.
The sleep cycles of babies within the months get longer, which means reduced wake-ups and resettling times during sleep. Some infants tend to have longer sleeps at nighttime (about 4 to 5 hours).
Infants are likely to move towards a routine of 2 to 3 daytime snooze of 2 hours each. Most babies at 6 months might start having 6 hours straight sleep at night. However, they are likely to wake at least once every night.
Baby Sleep Between 6 to 12 Months
As babies grow older, they are likely to sleep less. As soon as your baby hits one year, he will likely sleep for 11 to 14 hours every day.
Common sleep patterns at night
From 6 months, many babies experience their longest sleep at nighttime.
Most infants are ready to sleep between 6 pm and 10 pm. They typically get to sleep in less than 40 minutes, although some babies take longer times.
Within these months, babies’ sleep cycles are almost similar to those of adults, meaning they wake up less at night. Therefore, your baby might likely not wake you all through the night. Even if it happens, it will occur less often.
However, many infants still wake up at nighttime and require an adult to help them go back to sleep. This can happen about 3 to 4 times in a night.
Common sleep patterns during the day
Even within this age range, most infants still have 2 to 3 daytime sleeps ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Other developments in babies within this age range could cause them to sleep less.
Baby try to stay awake, especially if exciting or captivating stuff is happening around them or noise and light. They may also find it difficult settling in once they have started crawling or moving around and are aware of their environment.
How Long Should a Newborn Sleep Without Feeding?
A newborn’s sleep should not affect his feeding period to avoid weight loss, malnourishment or even sickness. Newly born babies often eat many times for an extended period. We recommend that you feed your newborn every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.
Your doctor or pediatrician may instruct that you feed your baby more than the generally recommended period, especially when your infant is not adding enough weight.
A great way to make sure your infant eats well is to feed him whenever he displays hunger signs like sticking out his tongue, sucking or rooting.
You may not necessarily wake most toddlers to eat. However, the younger babies below one month may likely not wake up whenever they feel hungry. Within four weeks or less, infants should not stay or sleep for more than 4 to 5 hours without feeding.
When you are about waking your infant to feed, brush the side of his cheeks to activate the rooting reflex.
Most infants might not like having their cheeks stroked. If this is the case with your baby, consider wiggling his toes gently or caress the bottom of his feet.
Sleep and food needs differ from one baby to another. As a parent, reach out to your doctor, pediatrician, or breastfeeding expert to get individual advice that suits your baby’s needs, growth, and development.
Baby Sleeping Too Much Suddenly-What to Do?
Is your baby sleeping too much suddenly?
It can be difficult to figure out your baby’s sleep pattern, especially when he is below 3 months. As you already know, newly born babies usually sleep too much in an irregular schedule.
Yet, health conditions like respiratory infections that affect toddlers can be hazardous to new babies. Thus, whenever you are concerned about your infant’s sleeping routine, contact your pediatrician.
But there are a few strategies you can try out with your baby before consulting your doctor. They include:
- Breastfeeding or formula-feeding your infant each time they show hunger signals
- Giving your child breast milk every 1 to 2 hours to make sure they feed well.
- Ensuring your infant is neither too cold nor too hot
- Tracking and recording your baby’s sleep schedule for 1 to 2 days
When to Contact a Pediatrician?
When your baby sleeps so much that it affects his eating times and you feel helpless or in doubt, you might want to consult a doctor or pediatrician. If your baby sleeping too much becomes a cause for concern, it is only your doctor that can accurately diagnose why your newborn sleeps so much.
You might not necessarily need to visit the hospital as a pediatrician may provide a solution or guide over the phone.
Long hours of sleep in newborns are not usually an urgent situation unless the infants exhibit signs of respiratory issues. Reach out to a doctor via call or in-person if your baby does the following:
- Gasp for air or wheezes
- Breath too loud
- His nostrils flare when he breathes
- The skin around your infant’s ribs sinks in whenever he breathes
- Has a fever
- When you think your infant might have eaten, inhaled or touched something toxic
In a Nutshell
Keeping a log of your newborn’s sleep routines is a continuous challenge. But most infants become accustomed to a more regular pattern sooner or later.
With time you or your caregiver will understand things that are normal or abnormal for your baby. It is typical to bother yourself about your baby’s sleep pattern. It also helps you to detect medical issues earlier and seek professional help.
If you bother that your baby sleeps so much, talk to a pediatrician, a medical or parenting expert for assistance.