Babys Development Demands Sleep
Sleep is crucial for a newborns mental and physical development, especially the development of their brain and central nervous system.
During certain stages of sleep levels of growth hormones rise, meaning newborns need plenty of opportunities to move through deep sleep and active sleep.
When baby is in active sleep, their body is relaxed but their mind is busy and developing this is also when you might luck out and get one of those adorable sleep-induced smiles.
During deep sleep baby goes through four stages: stage one of NREM consists of drowsiness, with baby possibly opening and closing their eyes and appearing to be lightly drowsing stage two is when baby may startle and cry out, causing parents to think baby is awake when really theyre just working their way deeper into sleep stages three and four consist of baby being in a very deep sleep where they rarely move or make any sounds.
A study done at Emory University found that when babies sleep patterns changed, a growth spurt would usually follow. Emory study participants were 43% more likely to experience a spurt in growth for each extra nap they took, and 20% more likely to grow for every extra hour of sleep they had. These babies got longer and heavier when they slept more, leading the studys lead author to determine that growth spurts occur during sleep and are greatly impacted by sleep.
When Should I See A Doctor About Sleeping Too Much
Having a baby that seems overly sleepy on occasion is no need for concern. Whether its a growth spurt, exciting day, they are just fighting a cold, or absolutely no reason at all, a baby sleeps longer than usual all the time.
When a baby is consistently showing signs of sleepiness, then you should check in with your pediatrician. If your baby is sleeping through feedings, they may lack needed nutrients and potentially could not be gaining appropriate weight.
You will also want to contact your doctor or pediatrician when the sleepiness is accompanied by sluggishness, crying, and irritability when he or she is woken from sleep, if your child seems dehydrated or isn’t responsive after you wake them.
A doctor visit isn’t needed most of the time, but if your newborn exhibits any of the signs above along with general sleepiness, it’s always best to check in with your pediatrician.
What Is The Average Amount Of Sleep For Newborns
A newborn baby will seep on average between 14 19 hours a day.
For the first three months, newborns seldom sleep for more than 4 hours at a time. They can only be awake for 30 minutes or so before dropping off again. A lot of sleep is vital for a newborn babys development. They are growing rapidly and their brain, immune system and central nervous system are all still developing.
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When To See The Doctor
Occasionally having to wake your newborn or older baby isnt something to worry about on its own. We all need a little more rest sometimes, so enjoy the extra downtime and keep your eye on the clock to know when you definitely need to wake her.
Chronic sleepiness, though, can sometimes be a cause for concern. If your newborn is regularly sleeping for more than 17 hours a day and is interfering with her ability to eat at least eight times per day, you should let your pediatrician know. Frequently missing meals could hurt her weight gain and growth.
For newborns or older babies, you should also call the doctor if the sleepiness coincides with other symptoms, like:
- Extreme lethargy or listlessness after you wake her, or trouble waking her.
- Signs of dehydration, like fewer wet diapers, darker colored urine, tearless crying or cracked lips.
- Extreme fussiness or irritability after you wake her.
- For newborns, being uninterested in eating after waking.
- Being unresponsive when you try to wake her.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Helping Your Newborn Sleep
Newborns follow their own schedule. Over the next couple of weeks to months, you and your baby will begin to settle into a routine.
It may take a few weeks for your baby’s brain to know the difference between night and day. Unfortunately, there are no tricks to speed this up, but it helps to keep things quiet and calm during middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. This will send the message that nighttime is for sleeping. If possible, let your baby fall asleep in the crib at night so your little one learns that it’s the place for sleep.
Don’t try to keep your baby up during the day in the hopes that he or she will sleep better at night. Overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who’ve had enough sleep during the day.
If your newborn is fussy it’s OK to rock, cuddle, and sing as your baby settles down. Swaddling can also help to soothe a crying baby. For the first months of your baby’s life, “spoiling” is definitely not a problem.
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How To Help Day & Night Confusion In Infants
Usually, an infants body clock will begin to adjust after they are 8 weeks old. However, theres quite a few tips and tricks that can help.
- Get into a Routine
Always try to put the baby down at the same time every day and keep the pre-sleep schedule the same. Conversely, stick to the same Wake-up time, even if both of you didnt get enough sleep.
- Play / Sing a Song
Providing the baby with an audible cue like a soothing lullaby or mobile not only helps infants drift off to sleep, it reinforces that it is the time to sleep. We find youtube lullabies on our cellphone are great for this. You can get some that play endlessly for 4 hours! A nursery mobile is another common method.
- Less interaction at night
Try not to give your baby too much stimulation at night and keep the noise low. When its time for a feed, keep it routine and by-the-numbers.
- Lots of Interaction during the day
During the day you should give your baby loads of interaction to help prevent them from sleeping. Singing, dancing, music. loud noises and all the things infants love.
- Darken the Room
What Is Day And Night Confusion
Newborns and many infants have problems distinguishing between day and night. After all, they spend the first 9 months in the wombs enveloping darkness. Its only natural that itd take some time to adjust. Unfortunately, it does take some infants longer than others.
One of the main reasons for day and night confusion is that a babys developing internal clock is not in tune with the outside world just yet. It will take time for them to sync their internal rhythms and its important parents dont expect this to happen right away.
For the first 6 8 weeks, many newborns will be blissfully unaware of night and day. Their primary concern is feeding, and they need to do this every four hours or so around the clock. Also, due to higher prolactin and oxytocin levels, mothers actually produce more milk at night.
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Possible Reasons Your Baby Is Sleeping More Than Usual
If your baby starts to sleep more than usual, it could be due to the following reasons.
If Newborns Sleep So Much Why Are Their Parents Completely Exhausted
It would seem that a baby sleeping an average of 16 to 20 hours a day would be a dream for new parents, yet the phrase were so tired is one of the most common phrases that rolls off new parents tongues.
While babies do just fine getting three hours of sleep here, two hours there, and maybe one hour in twenty-minute segments between midnight and four AM, this type of schedule wrecks havoc on an adult.
Adults move through a series of 90-minute sleep cycles where their brain moves from NREM to REM sleep. When this 90-minute cycle is interrupted the body has to start over when the adult is able to go back to sleep, meaning they likely wont spend enough time in the more restorative stages of sleep.
Ideally, newborns would time their wakings to coincide with the end of their parents 90-minute sleep cycles, but unfortunately, a newborns need to eat every few hours has little respect for adult sleep cycles. So, even when parents follow the sleep when baby sleeps adage theyre still unlikely to receive the type of sleep that helps them fend off depression, fatigue, and other not-so-fun mental and physical conditions that can crop up when not enough sleep is had.
A newborns sleep habits can be as confounding as a toddlers food preferences, but find peace in the knowledge that your childs life will be made up of a series of phases that will all bring various questions and possible concerns, but will almost always end in sweet resolution
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What Should I Do If My Newborn Is Sleeping A Lot
The first step is to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing issues. Ask yourself the following questions about your baby:
- Feeding at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours?
- Having a minimum of 6 wet and 3 to 4 dirty diapers a day?
- Gaining weight steadily?
- Too hot or too cold?
- Having difficulty breathing?
- Overly fussy or lethargic when awake?
- Difficult to rouse?
- Spitting up large amounts after every feed?
- Soft spots on head appear sunken in?
If you have any concerns, its best to call your pediatrician. If being overly tired is the only symptom your newborn displays, there are some helpful strategies you can try.
- Offer the breast or a bottle every 1 to 2 hours while awake.
- Make sure your baby is fully away to ensure they finish a full feed .
- Feed as soon as they show hunger cuescrying is a late sign of hunger.
- Keep the baby room temperature neutral, neither too warm nor too cool.
- Use a tracker or manually record hours of sleep .
What Do I Do If I Think My Baby Is Sleeping Too Much
Babies sleep a lot! You can expect your newborn to sleep an average of about 15 hours a day, but some babies could sleep as little as 9 hours or as many as 18 hours and still be in the normal range. Young infants will typically wake every 2 to 3 hours for a feeding, with maybe one stretch of 4 hours of sleep hopefully at night. If your newborn is not waking for a feeding after 3 hours , it may be that she still has her days and nights reversed. This is normal, and you can help by waking her and exposing her to the daylight. Bright light is a potent trigger to help the brain be awake, while darkness promotes sleep. It is also important to look at your newborns feeding schedule. If your infant is not getting good feedings at least 6 times a day, she may be sleepy due to lack of energy.
Newborns with jaundice, something only your healthcare provider can diagnose, might also be sleepy. Talk to your babys doctor to determine what the issue might be. If your baby is not gaining weight or has significant jaundice, she may need medical intervention.
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Around 3 Months: What To Expect From Baby Sleep
Babies keep developing night and day sleep patterns.
Their sleep cycles consist of:
- light sleep, when baby wakes easily
- deep sleep, when baby is sound asleep and very still
- dream sleep, when baby is dreaming.
Sleep cycles also get longer, which might mean less waking and resettling during sleep. At this age, some babies might regularly be having longer sleeps at night for example, 4-5 hours.
Most babies still sleep for 14-17 hours in every 24 hours.
Can Babies Sleep Too Much
Yes, babies can sleep excessively. If your baby has slept for an additional hour or two, its normal. However, if they sleep for an extra three to four hours, it can be considered too much.
Every baby is unique, and so are their sleep patterns. Some babies fall asleep quickly, whereas others could take some more time. So, before you come to the conclusion that your baby is sleeping too much, you need to observe their sleep patterns and time their naps.
It is common for older babies to sleep an extra hour or two when they are sick or had a busy day, but if your newborn sleeps for 20 to 22 hours and misses feedings, you need to intervene.
Because of their small tummy size, newborns need to be fed frequently to get the required nutrients. Breastfeeding babies shouldnt go longer than two to four hours during the day and four hours at night without feeding, and for formula-fed babies, it is three to four hours. The frequent waking up and other hunger cues are indications that you need to feed the baby.
However, some babies are non-demanding or placid and may not show interest in feeding every two to three hours. For such babies, it is advised not to wait for more than three hours between feedings, and you need to wake the baby to feed it, especially in the first two weeks . Clues such as the color and duration of urine and stools might help tell if your baby is being fed sufficiently. Try to set the alarm, and diligently wake them up for a feed every two hours.
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