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Babies are such angelic beings, radiating some serious pick-me-up and cuddle me vibes until they start screaming. Then it is a frantic run to feed, change diapers and in general to do whatever it takes to calm them down. And that is how most of us expect babies to be! However, there are times when your baby is being really calm and prefers sleeping to feeding, and it is making you a bit anxious. Read on to find if that should be a cause for worry or if your baby is just a good sleeper.
How Much Sleep Should a Newborn Baby Get in a Day?
Newborns do sleep a lot, and it is something they did for most of the time back in the womb. Back then they were surrounded by sounds of the mother’s heartbeat, digestive system and her voice. In such sleep-inducing conditions, they hit the snooze mode 90%-95% of the day. Once outside of the womb, newborns continue to sleep for 16 to 18 hours a day, waking up every two to three hours for a feed or diaper change. The hours of sleep can slightly vary since each baby is unique and has different needs. Newborns sleep a lot because their bodies are rapidly growing and sleep is essential for their proper mental and physical development, especially development of the brain and central nervous system. Therefore, it is safe to say that newborns spend around 80%-85% of the day sleeping and there are no hard and fast rules as to the number of hours a baby needs to sleep as long as they are healthy and feeding regularly.
Can Your Infant Sleep Too Much?
A baby sleeping all day can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives you the time you need to catch up on some rest. However, it can also be a source of anxiety. ‘Is my baby sleeping more than usual?’ is one question that may ring through your mind. The truth is that it depends on the individual needs of the baby. Some might sleep more while others sleep less, and it is all right as long as they remain healthy. One way to ascertain if the baby is feeding enough is to check their diapers. Their urine shouldn’t be too yellow (darker yellow is a sign that baby isn’t feeding enough) and there should be an adequate number of stools of the proper colour. An unusually sleepy baby will be cranky and clingy. A baby who does not have these issues might make parents antsy by sleeping too contently (welcome to the world of parenting). It is not a problem unless the sleeping impacts their feeding and health. The number of hours your baby spends sleeping gradually decreases as they grow older. This is good because you do not want a baby that sleeps too much that he/she does not learn to sit up or crawl around.
When You Need to Be Concerned
If you find that the baby is sleeping all day without getting up in between for feeds, it is necessary to stimulate the baby to wake up. Also, if there is a sudden increase in the number of hours spent sleeping, you might want to look into it for any health issues. But keep in mind that growth spurts in babies can also make them sleepier than usual. By the time the baby is two months old, he/she is likely to sleep longer during the night and stay awake longer during the daytime. This enables them to learn skills such as sitting up and gradually more complex tasks such as walking and speaking. So, if your three months or older baby is sleeping too much and is hardly up, you might want to consult a paediatrician.
What to Do If Your Baby Is Sleeping More Than Usual
If your maternal instincts tell you that the baby is sleeping more than what is required, a consultation with the baby’s paediatrician would be the best thing to do. Check-up on the baby’s health, since jaundice and other infections, can make the baby tired and sleep more. Medical procedures such as circumcision can also make the baby sleepier than usual. No matter what, make sure that you get to feed your baby. Do this even if you have to wake them up.
When to Wake Up Your Sleepy Baby for Feeding
Newborns initially lose their birth weight but gain it back within the first week and then continue to gain weight at a healthy pace. But if the baby is lacking in the weight gain department, it indicates that they are not feeding enough, and hence your doctor might suggest that the baby is woken up at intervals (every 3-4 hours) and fed. But it will be a few weeks before the paediatrician has enough data to ensure the weight gain is optimum until then you will have to rely on your gut feeling to wake the baby up and feed him/her after a couple of hours.
How to Wake Up Your Infant for Feeding
It’s never a good idea to wake someone up abruptly, even if it is your calm sleeping baby, they might end being cranky and non-cooperative. If you find your 3 months baby sleeping too much, here are some smooth tricks to gently wake them up:
1. Unswaddle The Baby
Sometimes a little less warmth is all that is required to get a sleeping baby to wake up. Babies are usually put to bed all swaddled up and cosy, so when it is time for them to wake up try taking off their blanket and loosening their clothing. The exposure to cool air and the physical stimulation of being undressed will bring them to open their eyes.
2. Change Their Diapers
A slight disturbance in their sleeping position or a light freshening up can help to wake the baby. Hence, changing diapers or wiping their bum can wake them up.
3. Stroke the Baby’s Back
Running your fingers along their back while feeding will keep them from falling asleep before they are full. They tend to fall asleep while feeding, due to the extra cosy effect created by the warmth of the mother’s presence and embrace.
4. Place the Baby on a Firmer Surface
Remove them from their cradle and keep them on a firmer surface such as a play mat. This can make them feel more vulnerable and hence wake them up.
5. Pick up the Baby
Gently pick up the baby and stroke the babies’ cheeks and foot. This slight disturbance will likely stimulate them to wake up.
6. Blow in Baby’s Face
Try blowing gently on the baby’s face; the flow of air will awaken the baby (but be prepared to get a weird look from your baby!).
7. Give the Baby a Bath
This is a more drastic measure, wiping the baby’s body with a wet, warm washcloth will definitely perk up the little sleepyhead.
Sleeping patterns vary from one baby to another, just as their personalities. Therefore, a baby sleeping more, need not necessarily ring bells of alarms, unless it affects their health. Parenting is a learning curve, you learn and unlearn as your baby grows up and you get tuned in to the baby’s requirements. Something that helps a lot is your maternal instinct which tells you if something is affecting the baby. So if your newborn is a sweet little being who loves to sleep, you might as well enjoy the calm while it lasts.
Also Read: Baby Sleeping Position – What Is Safe?