Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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Newborn Sleeping Too Much, Is it Normal? Dr. Sarah Mitchell

When you have a newborn, sleep is something that you think about a lot and always want more of. Is it possible that your baby could be getting too much sleep? Read on for the answers. 

Can newborns sleep too much?

It is actually very hard and unusual for a newborn to sleep too much.  The research shows that newborns need 16-20 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. That’s a LOT of sleep. Their high sleep need is based on their metabolism. During those first few months they are growing exponentially! They will double in size from 0-5 months.  A common parenting mistake is underestimating how much sleep your newborn needs. Many parents will try to keep their newborn up so that they “sleep better” in the night, but the more sleep that your newborn gets, the easier it will be to put them back to sleep. Sleep before four months is highly irregular. The research shows that newborns tend to sleep in 3-4 hour chunks of sleep around their clock.

Most newborns up to age 3 months, cannot stay awake more than an hour and half between sleeping. You may have a witching hour between 6-9pm where your child is fussy, takes short naps and won’t go down for bedtime.  This will recede around 10-12 weeks of age.  At this time your newborn will start to produce their own melatonin, which helps to regulate the circadian rhythm and bedtimes become easier. 

Something you hear very often from tired parents is that a newborn has reversed their days and nights. If you are breastfeeding, getting days and nights confused for a baby is hard to do since your baby is receiving melatonin from your milk. In general, what is happening with “day and night reversal”  is that your child is uncomfortable during the night and that is keeping them awake, or they are overtired. They may then sleep more the next day to compensate for the loss of sleep during the night. Overtiredness can be caused by waiting too long in between naps or a bedtime that is just too late. 

Is my baby napping too long?

Another very common concern for new parents is “is my baby napping too long? “  and “should I wake them up after 2 hours.”  Don’t wake them up after two hours! Remember that sleep is restorative and the research shows they sleep in long chunks at the beginning, irregularly interspersed over 24 hours.  With The Helping Babies Sleep Method, we prioritize feeding.  You would only wake them up if the nap is pushing their daytime feeds too far apart.  Our methodology wants you to stack your calories during the daytime. With this strategy we rarely have to wake newborns up since their hunger self regulates and they naturally wake up to eat.  

Remember to be an intentional feeder and use that food for fuel and to stack up calories during the day. This will allow you to get longer stretches of sleep at night. Also, don’t forget about the timing. Putting a newborn down too early or too late can make it harder for you.  Grab our Sleep Summary by Age chart for help with that.  

Two things that you can do right now are to try and put your newborn back down after about an hour and a half of being awake and to be an intentional feeder.  Meaning if they come to the breast or the bottle you want them to take a full feed.  We dive into that and more inside of The Helping Babies Sleep Method available on Amazon.

Want more newborn sleep tips? Take our simple 6 question sleep quiz for simple tactics to implement tonight!

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