Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much? Causes, Solutions, and When To Speak With Pediatrician

How many hours a newborn baby will sleep can change each day. Factors that can influence the amount of sleep they may need that day include growth spurts, vaccinations, and increased feedings. These reasons should not create a reason to be concerned. On average, newborns sleep 15-17 hours each day.

Many new parents are troubled with getting their babies to sleep through the night. To them, a baby who falls asleep and stays asleep seems like a dream!

After all, who doesn’t want a “good sleeper”? Other parents have a baby that seems to sleep a lot, and for them, it raises the question of whether their baby sleeps too much.

Just how many hours of sleep should a baby get each day? Should I wake my newborn to feed?

The daily amount of sleep needed for a child will vary based on age, and sleep habits will change as they grow. 

Amount of Sleep Needed Based on Age 

Babies spend a good part of their day asleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) created the following recommendations for sleep each age baby should have. 

Newborns (0 to 3 months)

The tiniest babies need around 15 to 17 hours of sleep each day. It is cumulative, so it includes sleep that occurs during the day and night.

Most of the rest occurs during the nighttime. But, because they feed regularly, daytime sleep schedules benefit both the baby and parents.

It’s important to note that a newborn will have fluctuating sleep patterns and does not necessarily mean they have a sleep problem.

For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not make a recommendation for total hours of sleep for babies under four months. 

Growth Spurts

During the early parts of their life, they go through a lot of growth spurts. Because of this, a healthy baby could sleep up to 18 hours a day!

Yet, some infants might need more than the typical sleep associated with newborns.

However, if they are sleeping more during the day and wide awake for multiple hours at night, they may have their day and night confused.

Sometimes it takes a few months to define their circadian rhythm and fall into a regular sleep routine.

Establishing a Circadian Rhythm

You can help your baby develop their circadian rhythm by stimulating them with plenty of daylight. Try going for a walk to expose them to natural light.

Yes, a newborn baby will take multiple naps throughout the day. But you can try establishing a routine for napping.

A schedule will ensure they get the required number of daylight sleep hours, making sure they are ready for nighttime sleeping. 

Infants (4 to 11 months)

Recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation state that infants ages four to eleven months should have around 12-15 hours of sleep daily.

Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends between 12-16 hours each day. 

Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)

Toddlers need around 11 to 14 hours of daily sleep. They’ll nap less at this age, with only one or two daylight hours accounting for their total number of hours. They may still take two naps per day, but one per day is not uncommon.

As your baby grows, they will require less sleep. When they reach school age (6-13 years old), the NSF recommends 9-11 hours of daily sleep. 

Determining If Your Baby is Sleeping Too Much 

The sleep needs of every baby are different, making it hard to tell if they are sleeping too much or going through another growth spurt.

If they are gaining enough weight and their diapers are consistent, there shouldn’t be much to cause alarm.

If you are concerned, you can use a tracking tool to log when you’ve fed, changed diapers, and the number of hours slept.

After tracking for a few weeks, take the information to your doctor and discuss your concerns. 

Reasons They May Be Sleeping Too Much 

If your baby is oversleeping, there may be a logical explanation. Reasons that may be causing them to sleep are:

  1. Medical Procedures – If they have recently received a vaccination, this can cause them to sleep for more hours. 
  2. Growth Spurts – These are very common during the first few weeks, and your baby will sleep a lot. 
  3. Developmental Changes – Learning a new skill can cause overtiredness. It may also cause temporary regression. 
  4. Illness – Anything that affects a baby’s respiratory system will drive them to sleep more. Their body will be working to recover and requires extra energy. 
  5. Feeding More – As a baby grows, they can take in more food. A full tummy can create a tired feeling and cause a baby to sleep longer.

If your baby appears jaundice, is eating less, not having soiled diapers as often, or becomes lethargic, you should visit your pediatrician.

Waking A Baby to Feed 

The recommendation is for a newborn baby to feed every two to three hours. But if your baby is sleeping during that time, what should you do?

If they are asleep for more than four hours, the AAP suggests waking them to feed because a baby’s stomach empties much quicker, and they might sleep through the hunger.

Not regularly feeding can also slow down their weight gain. For nursing mothers, regular feedings will also increase your milk supply. 

What Can I Do If They Are Sleeping a Lot? 

There is a checklist of questions to ask if your baby seems to sleep a lot. 

  • Are they eating a minimum of 8 hours per day? 
  • Do they have a minimum of six wet diapers and three soiled diapers?
  • Are they gaining enough weight? 
  • Have their breathing patterns changed?
  • Is there any difficulty waking them?
  • Does their skin have a yellow hue?
  • Do they throw up after feeding? 

Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician if you’ve answered yes to any of these questions or have other concerns. 

Other Reasons to Speak with Your Pediatrician 

As previously mentioned, sleeping for many hours is not necessarily something to cause concern. However, if your baby is experiencing any of these characteristics, contact your doctor soon. 

  1. Loud Snoring – A few loud snorts occasionally probably isn’t a problem. But, if they regularly snore loudly, it could be a sign of a problem. 
  2. Sleepwalking – While the name implies that the child will be walking, it’s not limited to freely roaming around. If you find your child in bed partly awake but not responding to you, they might be sleepwalking. It can include repetitive movements such as rubbing their eyes. If they are out of bed, ensure the area is safe and carefully guide them back to their bed without waking them up. 
  3. Night terrors – These are not the same as nightmares. Night terrors include uncontrollable screaming and rapid breathing while your child appears awake. While night terrors typically affect children ages 4-12, children as young as 18 months have suffered. Your child may outgrow them but make your doctor aware of the incidents. 

Babies Sleep A LOT: But Listen To Your Instincts

A growing baby has a variety of needs, with sleep being near the top of the list. A newborn baby may sleep in short spurts but will be for a total of approximately 18 hours throughout the day and night.

A baby needs large amounts of sleep for central nervous system development and improving memory and cognitive abilities.

If you feel your baby is sleeping too much, ask yourself if they might be recovering from an illness, recently had a medical procedure, or if it is time for a growth spurt.

Discuss any additional concerns with your pediatrician to rule out possible medical conditions.