Another quick post, for those worried if their newborn is sleeping too much. Links to advisory sources below and a few practical tips based on our own experiences as parents. We hope you find it useful.
Is it normal for a newborn to sleep all the time?
Newborns will typically sleep between 8-18 hour per day. But like adults, every baby is different – some sleep well, others don’t, some are more determined to fight sleep, others are more relaxed.
How long should you let your newborn sleep without eating?
Most newborns sleep in bursts of 30-45 minutes to as long as 3-4 hours. It is also very normal for them to wake up to feed and go straight back to sleep. They need approximately 25 ounces of breast milk per 24 hours (about 8-12 feeds). This stays more or less the same for the first 6 months, but the number of feeds will decrease as their stomach gets bigger. Formula-fed babies will stay fuller for longer and feed less often. Holding baby close enhances sleepiness and sometimes they will fall asleep before they are full.
Your paediatrician/midwife/health visitor will check if your baby is gaining sufficient weight. They will also check for jaundice or infections that may be making your baby sleepier than usual. If your baby is not gaining enough weight they will recommend waking your baby for additional feeds.
Can newborns sleep too much during the day?
It takes at least six months for a baby to establish their own circadian rhythm (Healthline), or their circadian biological clock which anticipates daily environmental changes corresponding with the day-night cycle.
If your baby is sleeping all day and is thriving and gaining weight there's no need to worry, but you should ask for help from those around you. You'll need to sleep whenever you can, even if just for 45 minutes. We're not designed to be awake at night and it is very normal to feel you're not coping.
You can help your baby to learn about night and day by stimulating them during the day with natural light, noise and play, and creating a calm and dark feeding environment at night.
Our practical tips
A few practical tips if you are worried that your newborn is sleeping too much (or eating too little):
keep a sleep and nappy log to share with your health visitor/medical professional – how many hours slept, how many wet and dirty nappies (bright yellow urine suggests dehydration)
if you are breastfeeding and regularly expressing, keep a log of how much milk is coming off each breast to help you track intake
if you feel you need to wake your baby for additional feeds:
- brush the side of baby's cheek to stimulate the ‘rooting reflex’
- stroke the bottoms of their feet
- change their nappy
- touch their face with a wet baby muslin
- burp them mid feed
- unswaddle your baby so it feels less cosy
- place baby on a play mat where it feels less secure
- give baby a bath
- run your fingers up and down their spine and stroke their back
- blow in baby’s face
- place a cold wet baby muslin on their foot
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