Help! Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much?
As a new parent, you are most likely often sleep-deprived and savor the moments that your infant is sleeping. You should be aware of the sleeping needs infants and what is a normal sleep schedule for newborns. If your baby is sleeping too much, it’s just as bad as if your baby is sleeping too little.
How Much Should My Baby Sleep?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborn infants sleep approximately 16 to 18 hours. The hours an infant sleep are typically not consecutive, as their internal biological clock and circadian rhythm have not yet developed.
This makes an infant’s sleep schedule erratic. They often sleep at different hours of the day for various lengths of time, sometimes sleeping too much and other times not enough. It should be noted that all infants are different and their environmental and genetic predisposition may cause differentiation in their sleep schedule.
For example, an infant that was born prematurely born may sleep for longer lengths of time versus an infant who has colic. If your child is eating well and using the bathroom regularly, you shouldn’t worry that your baby is sleeping too much. Feeding and having regular bowel movements is a sign that your baby is healthy and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
If your infant is tired often, irritable, or overstimulated, they may not be getting enough sleep. If you are concerned that your infant is not getting enough sleep, you should contact your pediatrician and have them evaluate your concerns.
Guidelines for Infant Sleep
How much sleep does your baby need? A baby needs proper sleep balance. A baby sleeping too much is unhealthy, similar to how not getting enough sleep is dangerous. There are general guidelines that may help you evaluate how much sleep your child needs. Keep in mind that your infant does not yet have a circadian rhythm or internal biological clock so their sleep patterns are not going to be related to daylight or night cycles. As a newborn grows, they will begin to sleep at night while waking several times to feed.
Typically, infants do not have a regulated sleep schedule until they are approximately six months old. Newborns are generally not awake for more than three hours at a time, so a baby sleeping too much at that age shouldn’t be a concern. Typically infants sleep in periods of 30 to 45 minutes and up to three to four hours. For newborns, it is normal if they wake up only for feedings and go back to sleep afterward. Infants typically do not have sleep styles that are consistent. The total amount of time that your child sleeps each day may fluctuate up to two hours.
Is My Baby Sleeping Enough?
The number of naps your infant takes may fluctuate as well. If your baby is sleeping too much, carefully monitor the duration of time your child spends asleep. Similarly, you may need to work on fixing your child’s sleep schedule. The following guidelines are a general idea of how much infants should sleep each day:
- Newborns should sleep approximately 8.5 hours each night with three daily naps that total to 7 hours, with 15.5 hours of total sleeping time. If you exceed this, your baby is sleeping too much.
- Three months old babies should be sleeping approximately 10 hours each night, with three daily naps totaling seven hours each day, with 15 hours of total sleeping time.
- Six months old babies should be sleeping approximately 11 hours each night, with two daily naps lasting 3.4 hours, with 15 hours of total sleeping time.
- Nine months old babies should be sleeping approximately 11 hours each night, with two daily naps that total three hours, and 13 hours of total sleeping time.
- 12-month-old babies should be sleeping 11.5 hours each night, with two daily naps that total two and a half hours, with 13 hours of total sleeping time.
Your baby is sleeping too much (or too little) if their sleep patterns fall outside of the recommended ranges listed above.
What Causes Infants to Sleep Too Much?
A baby that sleeps too much is generally not a reason to be concerned unless the infant is experiencing other symptoms. Some reasons why a healthy baby may sleep too much include the following:
- Getting immunizations
- Not getting quality sleep due to illness, like a respiratory infection that may make it difficult for them to breathe
- A growth spurt
- Having a minor illness, like the common cold
Some infants may sleep too much because they have jaundice. Infants with jaundice have yellowish toned skin and the whites of their eyes appear yellow. The symptoms of jaundice in infants include:
- Being irritable
- Lack of appetite
- Appearing lethargic
Another reason your baby sleeps too much may be related to diet. Many times, a baby sleeps too much if he or she is not eating enough food. Infants who do not eat enough will lose too much weight, experience increased dehydration, and possibly suffer from a failure to thrive. Some parents have issues knowing if their infant is getting enough to eat, especially those who are breastfeeding. If this is the case for you, contacting a pediatrician and a consultant who specializes in breastfeeding will allow you to ensure that your infant is getting enough food.
Signs and Symptoms of Baby Oversleeping
If your baby is sleeping too much, ensure your child is eating enough. Here are some signs that your baby is oversleeping because of hunger:
- Being unresponsive or lethargic
- Gaining less than 6 ounces per week
- They are not calmer after they eat
- They are producing less than four wet diapers each day
In some cases, an infant could have a medical condition that enables your baby to sleep too much. For example, heart disorders and breathing disorders typically affect sleep. Premature infants may also have different sleeping patterns compared to infants who were delivered at full-term.
What To Do If Your Baby Is Sleeping Too Much
Typically, babies who are sleeping too much are usually on an irregular sleep schedule. If you become concerned that your infant’s sleep schedule is irregular due to health issues (i.e., respiratory infection, etc.) you should contact your child’s pediatrician for consultation. Some strategies that you should try before contacting your pediatrician include:
- Ensuring that your infant is not too hot or cold
- Feeding your infant each time they show cues that they are hungry
- Offering your infant food every one to two hours to make sure they are getting enough to eat
- Keep a journal of your infant’s sleep schedule for one to two days
When You Should Contact Your Pediatrician
If you aren’t sure that your child is sleeping normally, you should contact your pediatrician for consultation. A pediatrician will be able to tell you if your baby is sleeping too much. Your infant’s pediatrician is the only person who will be able to correctly diagnose the reasons why your child is sleeping more than normal. In some cases, your pediatrician may be able to provide consultation over the phone. Infants that sleep too much are typically not in danger, but if they show signs that they are having trouble breathing you should immediately contact your pediatrician and visit the emergency room. Signs of respiratory distress in infants include:
- Wheezing or gasping for air
- Breathing very loudly
- Flaring of the nostrils when they breathe
- Sinking of the skin around the ribs when breathing
- Eating, inhaling or touching something toxic
Finding a consistent rhythm for your child’s sleep patterns will be a challenge. It may take a while, but your infant will eventually develop a sleep routine. If your baby is sleeping too much, don’t worry. You will eventually be able to recognize what is normal and what is abnormal for your child after some time. Worrying if your baby is sleeping too much is a normal concern for parents. Being concerned about your child’s sleep pattern may lead to detecting issues early. If you have any concerns that your child may have health issues that are causing irregular sleep patterns or causing your baby to oversleep, you should consult your pediatrician.