One of the things many new parents worry about is the amount of sleep a newborn gets. Many wonder can a newborn sleep too much, or too little? Well, the good news is that almost always there’s never a thing as “too much sleep” for newborns. As long as your baby is growing, gaining weight and happy then there really should be nothing to worry about.
However, they say it’s a parent’s job to worry! I’d say it’s only natural,so let’s take a look at some common questions around newborns sleeping too much.
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 baby’s development. They are growing rapidly and their brain, immune system and central nervous system are all still developing.
Can a newborn sleep too much?
In the first 6 weeks after birth, a newborn baby can sleep as much as 19 hours a day. Naturally, this is not all in one go else we’d really start to get worried! Usually they will take long naps 4/5 times a day. As their stomachs are still pretty tiny, they will wake-up in due course and let you know when it’s time for a feed.
It is advised not to let a newborn sleep longer than 5 hours during the first 6 weeks to maintain a regular feeding habit. If you are concerned your newborn is sleeping longer than average, it’s always recommended to contact your pediatrician ASAP.
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Many babies will get into a sleeping pattern from around 3 to 6 months old. If you’re lucky, they’ll stay awake longer during the day and have up to 5 hours of solid sleep a night. Our first baby fits into this example. The journal of Pediatrics did a study and found that by 5 months more than half of infants are sleeping through the night (22.00 – 6.00)
However, my niece seldom manages to sleep through the night and she is now three years old…thankfully, she is the exception but my sister has other words to describe this condition!
What is sleep maturity?
“Sleep Maturity” is when a baby really falls into a regular sleep-pattern. At first, you can expect a newborn to wake up a few times a night and want a feed. As time goes on, the frequency of wakings declines and the period of deep sleep lengthens. It’s also easier for the baby to fall asleep, too. Babies usually achieve sleep maturity at around 9 months old.
Will too much sleep prevent a healthy sleep pattern?
As a baby grows and develops, the amount of sleep they require should decrease accordingly. Whereas a 2 month old baby takes around four naps a day, a one-year old might only take two.
As mentioned above, too much sleep is rarely harmful for a baby. However, the time a baby sleeps is a primary concern for many parent. For example, if your baby is sleeping all day and awake all night (referred to as “day and night confusion”) then this is really tiring for us poor parents. It’s also a lot harder to get them into a regular, sustained sleeping pattern.
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 womb’s enveloping darkness. It’s only natural that it’d 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 baby’s 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 it’s important parents don’t 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.
How to help Day & Night Confusion in Infants
Usually, an infant’s body clock will begin to adjust after they are 8 weeks old. However, there’s 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 didn’t 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 it’s 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
Darkening the room to simulate night-time is especially important if you have a summer-baby.