I remember when my cousin had a baby and I had gone over for a visit. All the baby ever did was eat, cry and sleep. Scratch that. It seemed like she only slept and slept and slept. I used to wait for the time that she would wake up so I could play with her, cause it's only for a fraction of time that you can spend looking at a baby sleeping. But that didn't happen quite often. And to tell you frankly, I was a little worried - 'Can a baby sleep too much', I wondered. Or is it completely normal to be sleeping all the time?
This is basically the issue that we will be dealing with today. Can a baby sleep too much during the day or night? Or is it a matter of concern when that happens? Continue reading for more information on the subject.
Sleep and the Newborn - Why it is Important
Anyone who has been around newborns knows that they sleep for a major portion of the day. That is a given. Why does that happen though?
Think about this, when a woman is going through labor and working so hard to bring the baby into this world, the baby is also working just as hard. For 9 months, it has lived in the womb without having to worry about anything and then suddenly one day it is forced to come out of its haven. The entire journey of pushing itself out of the body exhausts the baby. Add to that the fact that when it comes into the world it is suddenly assaulted by a thousand different stimuli like light and noise which are completely different from the safety and the darkness of the womb. Also, it has to now learn to feed itself which was never expected of him before. All these factors will induce a lot of sleep in the newborn and so they'll spend a long time sleeping.
More importantly, it has also been proven that the baby's brain develops most while they sleep and that is why a newborn will spend a majority of his time sleeping.
The Normal Sleeping Hours
So every newborn needs to sleep, but is it possible that a newborn can sleep too much? Hardly. The deal is that just as adults need 5-8 hours of undisturbed sleep at night to repair the bodily wear and tear, the newborn will require at least 16-19 hours of sleep for its development. It's just that every infant's sleeping pattern will differ. These 16-19 hours of required sleep will be completed according to the baby's internal body clock. What does that mean? That the way every baby gets its required sleep will never be similar to the other babies.
Some might sleep for a stretch of 3-4 hours then wake up for a feeding, while others might sleep through the night (though it is very rare). This is done irrespective of whether it is day or night. That is why in the initial months after a baby is born, it follows an erratic sleeping schedule. Erratic according to adults because they don't follow that timing, but it is definitely not erratic for babies.
Newborns Sleeping Too Much - Need to Worry?
Some parents worry about their infant sleeping through the night because they think it is an indication of some problem. But that is not the case. The baby is sleeping as much because she needs that sleeping time. And because every baby is different, the way in which they sleep will be different as well. A parent should monitor the sleeping hours and be in constant touch with their pediatrician to clear any doubt. As far as the parents are taking care of the feeding, clothing and proper environment of the child, there is really nothing that needs to be worried about.
As the child grows, the sleeping periods will become lesser and lesser during the day, while a proper sleeping pattern will develop for the night. That is the time the baby will start having more wakeful periods and it is then that parents have to take an active interest in the development of the child, providing for it a stimulating environment so that it learns better. But other than that, the baby's sleeping hours are not something that need be a worry.
Of course, if you notice a sudden change in the sleeping patterns, you can consult a pediatrician who will check to see if the child is normal and in good health. A sudden change of sleeping pattern can be a problem if there is any other health issue accompanied with it and that is the only issue of when the sleeping patterns can change.
Can a baby sleep too much? Not at all. As far as it feeds normally after waking and does not seem cranky or disturbed, the number of hours that it sleeps is not something that needs to be a cause of concern. Of course, if it is accompanied by any other health issue then one can consult a doctor and get a checkup done.