I know, I know, you never thought you’d be asking this question, especially after all of the sleepless nights you’ve endured. But now you’re noticing some changes in your little one’s sleep patterns, which is leading to you to wonder if, perhaps, your baby is sleeping too much.
The simple answer is that there is no limit on daytime sleep for babies. Every baby has different sleep needs; some sleep for a solid three hours, others do well with a quick one-hour nap to recharge. If your baby is responding well with the length of daytime naps he takes (and not exhibiting signs of overtiredness) then the question of your baby sleeping too much shouldn’t be an issue; there should be no need to tweak his schedule.
On the flip side, if your little one is struggling with bedtime, it may be an indicator that she’s getting too much sleep during the day. Take a look at the last nap of your baby’s day. Has her last nap lengthened, pushing closer to bedtime? If so, you may want to begin gently waking her from that nap.
The best way to gently wake your little one is by creating noise outside his door; open the nursery door, make some noise in the hallway, turn on the light. While I normally wouldn’t advocate for waking a sleeping baby, if the last nap of his day is interfering with his bedtime, you may gently wake him (but be prepared – he may be grouchy for the next 10-30 minutes!).
I’ve not encountered too many babies who “slept too much,” but every so often I come across a baby who sleeps more than the recommended hours for her age. If you’re concerned your baby is sleeping too much, consult your pediatrician. In very rare cases, an underlying health issue is the culprit (ie. low iron). For the vast majority of babies, there is no such thing as too much sleep.
Always remember that sleep begets sleep. If your baby is napping well throughout the day, she is setting herself up for a restful night of healthy sleep. Many well meaning friends and family members may instruct you to pull daytime naps or keep her up during the day to make her tired for bedtime — please do not do this.
Keeping your baby up during the day, in an effort to ensure bedtime sleep, will only result in an overtired little one. Once your baby hits the point of overtiredness, it can be extremely difficult to get him calm enough to get himself to sleep. I’m sure you’ve experienced being so tired you couldn’t sleep; this is exactly what your baby is experiencing when he is overtired.
Let your baby nap throughout the day and try not to wake her. If you are concerned that your baby is sleeping too much, consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying health issues.
If you’re having difficulty getting your baby to nap well throughout the day, I’m more than happy to work with you to offer suggestions.