Whether you have a newborn baby or a toddler or a baby aged in between, there comes a time in most parent’s lives when you ask yourself if your baby is sleeping too much. Granted, many people arrive at The Baby Sleep Site™ because your baby is not sleeping enough, but once you have helped your baby sleep through the night and helped your baby nap better, you may come across a time when you aren’t sure if your baby is sleeping too much or not. On the other hand, there are babies who are naturally good sleepers whose parents may wonder how their baby will learn to sit up, crawl, walk, or talk, if all they do is sleep! What would parenthood be without worry? This article will help you figure out if your baby is sleeping too much.
Before we get started, if you EVER have any question about the health of your baby, talk to your doctor first and foremost! That is why they are there and don’t worry about being an over-protective parent. Trust your instincts and if you feel like something might be wrong, it does not hurt to ask, but it might hurt not to!
Your Newborn Baby’s Sleep
Newborn babies need to sleep A LOT. If you have read the book or watched the DVD, The Happiest Baby on the Block, you know the author, Dr. Karp, believes that babies actually need another trimester in the womb, but if a baby were to stay longer, we’d never be able to give birth to such a large baby. I can’t even imagine! So, if you consider the possibility that this is true, that means the first 2-3 months of your baby’s life is still full of rapid growth and, therefore, she needs a lot of sleep.
Unless your baby literally never wakes up, not even to eat, there is most likely no reason to worry your baby is sleeping too much. In the first few weeks, it’s also very common for you to need to wake your baby every 2-3 hours to ensure he eats, and he may go right back to sleep afterwards. Again, talk to your doctor if this goes on too long.
It is very typical for newborns to sleep anywhere from 14 to 18 hours a day, on average. Some newborns need even more sleep and essentially wake for 30 minutes or less at a time and sleep most of the day and night away. If your baby is sleeping too much during the day, but wants to party at night, she most likely has her days and nights confused and you should review our newborn sleep tips.
My biggest tip in this stage is if you have a newborn baby who sleeps a lot, take advantage now because it will change rapidly. If your baby isn’t sleeping as much as other newborns do, your baby is most likely normal, too. There is a wide range of what “normal” is and your baby’s sleep needs are as unique as she is.
Your Baby’s Sleep
Beyond the newborn phase, you may start to worry about your baby’s development, if she sleeps too much. After all, how can she learn to roll or crawl when she is sleeping? What is too much sleep?
When your baby is sleeping 13-15 hours per day, this is within normal ranges for a very long time. If your baby is sleeping less, this may or may not be enough sleep. Depending on your baby’s age, a typical baby will sleep 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day. Since averages are just those, your baby may indeed need more like 12 hours at night and 4 hours of sleep during the day. This is unlikely to be a cause for concern. It is a lot of sleep, but a great 12-hour night sleeper and two two-hour naps is fantastic and there is still enough up-time to learn all the wonderful skills such as rolling, crawling, walking, and talking. She likely needs more time to process all of it and simply needs more sleep than other babies her age. Watching her behavior when she is up is a good sign everything is okay. Again, enjoy it while it lasts.
If your 6 month or older baby is sleep sleeping like a newborn, though, hardly up during the day for more than an hour at a time, for example, I believe this would warrant a talk with the doctor. There are medical conditions that can cause the need for too much sleep and you do want to rule them out.
If your baby is napping really well, but waking at night, or sleeping really long at night, but napping very little, this may be one of the 4 times you should wake your baby.
Your Toddler’s Sleep
As your baby grows into a toddler, her sleep needs will decrease, however, long luxurious afternoon naps are very common in toddlers. Some toddlers can sleep 3 hours in the afternoon and still go to sleep by 7 p.m. Not mine, though! So, just as it’s normal to have toddlers who can sleep 12 hours at night and take a 3 hour nap, there are also toddlers who sleep 11-12 hours at night and take a 1-2 hour nap. Again, there is a wide range of “normal” and the only time I’d be concerned is if your toddler sleeps so much that she doesn’t have time for gross motor activity or spending awake time with you where she can learn to communicate and other life skills.
All in all, your instincts will be a good guide as to whether your baby is sleeping too much or not enough. Keep in mind that temporary increases in sleep can also be due to illness or growth spurts, too. If your baby is happy, growing, learning, and thriving, there is likely no cause to be worried she is sleeping too much. Even if your baby or toddler does not hit all his milestones exactly “on time” that doesn’t mean he is not “normal.” Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns whatsoever, but otherwise, enjoy your baby or toddler, and enjoy the down time if he’s sleeping a lot!
If your baby is not sleeping enough and for those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!