Is My Newborn Sleeping Too Much?

newborn sleep tips - photo of a newborn foot on the edge of a blanket

Wondering if your newborn is sleeping too much may be a question you never thought you’d ask. As a new parent, you’ve most certainly heard about how much sleep you’ll probably lose, and over the course of the first year that will probably be true (read about the 4 month sleep regression for evidence!) However, there are some babies that are just solid sleepers right from the start, but it’s always good to be monitoring your babies sleep patterns to ensure there isn’t something else going on.

For the most part, newborns will spend more time sleeping than they do awake. Their sleep schedule will be irregular and they may sleep for short periods of time as opposed to longer stretches. This can make life with a newborn challenging as your newborn may only sleep intermittently overnight meaning poor sleep for parents.

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Learning About Newborn Sleep

It is recommended that newborns sleep for approximately 14–17 hours per day. Understand that this is certainly not consolidated sleep, and may come in bursts of 30–45 minutes or in stretches as long as three to four hours. In the first couple of weeks, it is standard for a newborn to wake up to feed and then go right back to sleep. During their sleep, they are working hard on continuing their development and in learning how to organize their sleep into a more typical day and night pattern. Keep in mind that if your baby was born premature, their sleep patterns may differ from that of a full term newborn.

So, how can you tell if your newborn is sleeping too much?

Keep in mind that babies sleep schedule will vary based on their development and growth. A newborn who occasionally sleeps more than usual is not typically cause for concern unless there are other symptoms. Common reasons why a healthy newborn may sleep more than usual include:

  • A growth spurt or developmental leap.
  • A minor illness, such as a cold.
  • After receiving immunizations.
  • Not getting enough sleep the day or night before.

And as a reminder, safe newborn sleep means that baby is put to bed alone, on their back, and in a certified crib with no blankets, pillows or stuffed animals.

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When Can Too Much Sleep Be Concerning?

As a new parent, it’s natural to worry and wonder if every little whimper or cry may signify that something is wrong. As mentioned, newborns can sleep a lot, but there are some instances where you may want to visit your doctor if you’re concerned about their sleeping patterns.

If your baby had jaundice or you suspect they may have jaundice (a newborn who has jaundice will have a yellow color to their skin and a yellow cast to the whites of their eyes), this can cause them to sleep more than normal.

Additionally, if your little one isn’t getting enough food they can be lethargic and prone to sleepiness. An easy way to track your baby’s food intake is to ensure they are producing more than four very wet diapers per day and that they seem calm and satisfied after eating. As a general rule, babies younger than 4 weeks should not go longer than four to five hours without food, so it may be necessary to wake your baby to eat in order to ensure they get the nutrients they need.

What To Do If your Newborn Is Sleeping Too Much

Again, if your newborn seems to be spending most of their day sleeping, it’s likely just an irregular sleep schedule which will change as they mature and grown. Nevertheless, any parent who is genuinely concerned about their baby’s sleeping schedule should consult a doctor.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Feeding the baby every time they show hunger cues.
  • Making sure baby is not too cold or too hot.
  • Keep a log of baby’s sleep schedule for a few days. This can really help you gain a better picture of their sleep and demonstrate that they’re sleeping much less — or much more — than you thought.

Make seeing a doctor a priority if you notice your baby breathing loudly or gasping for air. Excess sleep in a newborn is not typically an emergency unless the baby shows signs of respiratory problems.

Settling Into Life With A Newborn

Getting into a rhythm when it comes to newborn sleep patterns can be a challenge. Your little one’s sleep needs will constantly be changing and it may be a few months before they settle into a comfortable routine. As your baby gets older, around three to four months, you can expect to see some more consistency and there are a few things you can do to help your baby develop positive sleep habits. For additional sleep support for your baby, be sure to check out our library of resources or contact us to learn more about hiring a sleep consultant.

Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram - @GNSleepSite.

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