Is It Normal for Babies to Sleep a Lot?

Is It Normal for Babies to Sleep a Lot?

Last update: 13 May, 2018

In this article we’ll discuss whether or not it’s normal for babies to sleep a lot.

Nature is perfect, and in newborns it shows in an obvious way. During the first few months of life, children instinctively follow the needs of their bodies.

Therefore, the reasons why children sleep so much have a lot to do with their growth and development.

A newborn child sleeps between 16 and 18 hours each day at intervals of two to three hours. They usually wake up because of hunger or because they need their diaper changed.

Then, they continue sleeping. As they grow, the intervals between sleep increase.

Although the sleep rhythms of every child are a little different, it is important to instill a routine from a young age.

Some babies may spend more hours asleep because their stomachs retain more milk. In addition, children who are lower in weight will need to eat more often.

Is it normal for babies to sleep a lot?

Yes, it is normal and, in addition, highly recommended. Sleeping a lot benefits the baby physically and cognitively. The hours of sleep are directly related to a child’s development.

As long as babies sleep a lot, their neurons, organs and immune systems will be strengthened.

Next, we’ll see other benefits that babies get with sleep:

  • Sleep nourishes. Sleeping a lot makes a baby gain weight more quickly. In addition, restful sleep helps to stimulate the little one’s appetite.
  • Strengthens knowledge. While they sleep, babies review in their mind what they’ve learned during the day: colors, figures, textures, faces, etc. This learning encourages them to continue acquiring knowledge and to explore more of their environment.
  • Greater sleep means greater height. Growth is related to the hours of sleep, because during that rest time, hormones are activated. Therefore, and especially during their developmental stages, it is important to respect a baby’s sleep.
Is It Normal for Babies to Sleep a Lot?

Infant sleep cycle

Like adults, babies have sleep cycles that differ depending on their depth. Usually, in the first months of life, infants stay in an REM sleep cycle. This type of sleep is one that presents eye movement during sleep.

REM sleep is associated with brain activity, from which it can be deduced that the baby is dreaming vividly.

There are also indications that the memory is strengthened during this cycle, although there are no proven studies at the moment.

As they grow, babies move from this type of sleep to longer and deeper cycles. After three years, their sleep regulates, especially at night. During the growth stage, children are able to sleep more than 10 consecutive hours.

A newborn child sleeps between 16 and 18 hours a day, at intervals of two to three hours. They usually wake up because of hunger or because they need their diaper changed.

How to benefit your baby’s sleep

In the initial stages, the best way to contribute to your baby’s sleep is to create a comfortable and cozy environment.

To do this, keep the baby clean and fresh, and try not to interrupt his sleep to feed him. When he feels hungry, he will wake up on his own.

After a few weeks, it is important to accustom the newborn to day and night. In this way, he can learn to differentiate and internalize the habits of each period.

During the day, the baby should be kept active and the house should be lit up. At night, it is advisable to leave the environment dark and in silence.

As children grow older, it is advisable to include them in a sleep routine; thus they’ll create a healthy and natural habit to go to bed.

This routine consists of eating, taking a bath and going to bed at the same time every day.

Is It Normal for Babies to Sleep a Lot?

If they don’t sleep much, what should you do?

Not all babies have the same rhythms of sleep. Some don’t sleep as much as others or don’t sleep as often. When in doubt about your newborn’s sleep cycle or pattern, the first thing to do is consult a specialist.

There are some signs that can indicate that the baby doesn’t sleep much. The most obvious symptom is that the child is sleepy most of the day.

Also, their skin might turn pale or they may experience significant weight loss.

All of these symptoms will be taken into consideration by your pediatrician to evaluate whether there is a pathological problem.

The specialist will advise changes or the specific treatment that must be followed.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Sleep in infants. Am J Respir Crit Care Med Vol. 198, P15-P16, 2018 ATS Patient Education Series © 2018 American Thoracic Society.
  • Hernández, M; García, C. Estudio sobre los hábitos del sueño en niños. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2006;8:334-6.
  • Rana, Mandeep, et al. “Sueño en los niňos: fisiología y actualizacion de los últimos conocimientos.” Medicina (B. Aires) (2019): 25-28.
  • Velayos, J. L., Moleres, F. J., Irujo, A. M., Yllanes, D., & Paternain, B. (2007). Bases anatómicas del sueño. In Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra (Vol. 30, pp. 7-17). Gobierno de Navarra. Departamento de Salud.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.