Can a Baby Sleep Too Much?

Stressing about your baby’s sleep is just a sign that you’re a parent. Welcome to Club Worry, where you’re up all night with a hungry or crying baby, then still awake once they’re asleep because you’re worried that they’re sleeping too long.

The truth is that if you have a happy baby that is growing, then chances are they’re getting the perfect amount of sleep they need. But, that’s not always the case. How do you know if your baby is getting too much sleep? Here’s a few telltale signs: 

  • Your baby isn’t growing. Especially in the first two weeks and even up to a month after birth, your doctor may recommend that you wake your baby to feed every 1.5-4 hours. Babies are born without a circadian rhythm—the biological clock that helps them recognize the difference between day and night. Because of this, they’re looking to their parents to guide them with social cues.

    Offering frequent daytime feedings can help your baby  recognize the importance of getting the majority of their food in the day. Then, at night, allow your baby  to feed on demand, so they’re waking you only when they need to eat.. As sleep architecture develops, your baby will begin stretching out their night sleep periods and needing less and less food at night. If you are concerned about your baby’s growth and how often they feed, talk to your pediatrician.

  • Your baby is waking frequently at night. If your baby is taking really long naps throughout the day, they may be stealing sleep from their nighttime sleep. Newborns may wake equally throughout the day and night, but after a few weeks, their nighttime sleep stretches should start to become longer and longer. If you find that isn’t happening, you may want to consider waking them from their daytime naps.

    Naps are used to help relieve sleep pressure, the pressure that builds throughout the day until the longer period of nighttime sleep. For babies, their sleep pressure builds quicker than adults. Because of this, babies need daytime naps to  alleviate the pressure throughout the day. Just like a teapot on the stove that builds heat until it whistles, humans build up sleep pressure until our bedtime bell “whistles” and we must go to sleep. If we relieve too much sleep pressure with naps, then the pressure won’t build enough for long periods of night sleep.

Scenarios in Which You Need More Sleep

There are certain situations where you or your baby may need additional sleep.. Here are three types of naps that you will utilize as a parent, that will benefit both you and your baby.

  1. Recovery Nap: This nap is used to help compensate for loss of sleep time due to interrupted sleep, meaning it’s a popular type of nap amongst parents. This nap is best utilized when you feel sleepy, so check in with yourself throughout the day and take 10-20 minute recovery naps to help catch up on your sleep. This type of nap is important because it teaches your body to fall asleep when tired, rather than fight the feeling of tiredness.
  2. Fulfillment Nap: This nap is meant for babies and kids up to kindergarten age. Taken during the day, this nap is meant to help achieve the amount of sleep our little ones require. The length of a fulfillment nap can vary between 20 minutes up to 3 hours.
  3. Essential Nap: An essential nap is a response to the greater need for sleep when you’re sick or your body is in recovery. It’s your immune system’s response to help fight infection and to assist in the healing process. Essential naps are meant for anyone who’s sick, regardless of age.  These naps should occur  organically with exhaustion and last until you wake or need to wake.

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