Can an infant sleep too much? My baby is 3 weeks old, and I have to wake him up to feed him every 4 1/2 hours. Is this normal?
Oh, how many mothers would love to have your “problem”! Sleep patterns in infants are extremely variable. Babies with easy temperaments tend to be easy sleepers; high-strung infants are often frequent wakers. But it’s possible for excessive sleep to keep an infant from thriving. “Thriving” means more than just getting bigger, it means that your baby is developing to his fullest potential; physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Babies are born with attachment-promoting behaviors (e.g. crying) that cue their caregivers to the quantity and quality of touch and feeding they need in order to thrive. Infants who sleep too much may not initiate interaction, so you have to do it (as you’ve been doing when you wake him up to feed).
We suggest that you continue to schedule your baby’s feedings at least every three hours during the day, but let him wake you at night. Be sure to have him weighed frequently by your doctor to be sure he is gaining enough weight . Because they are not demanding babies, heavy sleepers often do not get enough to eat. This is why you are wise to take charge of the feeding routine and continue to awaken your baby for meals every three hours during the day.
In addition to insuring that your baby gets adequate food, it’s also important to make sure he gets enough touch. Demanding babies often cry if somebody doesn’t hold them, but easy babies often sleep right through potential holding times. One way to address this is to wear your baby around the house in a baby sling at least a couple hours a day to provide touch and stimulation.
In the meantime, enjoy your full night’s sleep while it lasts!