Many new parents worry about the sleep patterns of their newborns. How much sleep can one reasonably expect a healthy baby to need during those first few months of life? Is there a point when a parent should be concerned about the baby sleeping too much? The fact is that babies sleep and it is perfectly normal. Here are some facts about babies and sleep that may help to put the minds of first-time parents at ease.
The reality is that newborns sleep. In fact, newborn babies sleep a great deal. While the sleep pattern for a baby may not gel with the sleep pattern of his or her parents, there is not any cause for alarm if the infant sleeps through most of the night and still sleeps a great deal during the day. Even if the baby sleep reaches up to twenty hours per day, with short periods of wakefulness scattered throughout the time, there is no cause for alarm.
One of the reasons behind what appears to be excessive babies' sleep is the fact that the baby is still adjusting to a new environment, and experiencing a rapid bit of growth at the same time. A lot of sleep for babies early on is a good thing. Proper development demands that babies sleep a lot. Growth hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland at a much faster rate while babies sleep.
As any seasoned parent can attest, the first five months of a baby’s life are marked by rapid growth. It is not unusual for infants to double their body weight by the time the child has reached the age of five months. After that point, the growth will continue at a steady pace, but will begin to slow somewhat over the next several months. Newborn sleep that is interrupted by waking for food and attention now and then is perfectly normal during this time, and should be considered a sign of normal infant health.
There are those new parents that are concerned that excessive sleep on the part of their infants indicates some deficiency in parenting skills. This is not the case at all. As long as parents are making sure the baby is in a comfortable environment, is well fed, kept clean, and is held close during those intermittent periods of wakefulness, there is no deficiency going on at all. Babies sleep because they need it, not to escape parents who are inattentive or inadequate in some manner. Of course, as the child ages, the parents will play a more active role in helping the child to develop sleeping patterns that are in line with the rest of the household. But that will come over time and should not be considered a sign that a parent is failing to do a good job.
Babies sleep so much because that is part of the natural order of things. Don’t be concerned that your child is waking up in the middle of the night because he or she slept too much during the day. Babies have their own internal clocks that do not operate on society’s conventions. Allow babies sleep during that those first months that are so critical to normal development and don’t worry about the baby getting too much sleep. In this instance, the baby knows best.