Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much?
My baby is 3 months old. We sleep together at night like 11 hours. During the day, 3 hours in the afternoon and shorter naps in the morning. There are precious moments, but I feel paralyzed from my baby sleeping so much. I don’t know other mothers that sleep as much as my baby and I do, so sometimes I feel so different. Since we are always sleeping, there isn’t even time to see friends. Is that normal to be so limited from my baby sleeping too much? What is a normal amount for a baby to sleep for? Since I am following breastfeeding on demand she is attached and doesn’t want to sleep in the crib.
Your Natural Reaction to Baby’s Sleeping Needs
Here are the thoughts that quickly came to mind when I read your question. Your baby is blessed to have you as such a sensitive and attached mother, and you are blessed to have a baby who is loving, and thriving with, what you are naturally doing.
Behind Baby’s Eyes
In my early years of parenting, I wondered, like most new moms, am I doing the right thing for my baby and myself? Over the years I learned to solve this dilemma by putting myself behind my baby’s eyes and asking, “If I were my baby, what would I want/need my mother to do?” (In the early months, a baby’s wants are a baby’s needs.) If you do that, you will nearly always get it right and feel confident about your decision.
Invest in Baby
Next, giving your time in the early months of motherhood is the best investment you’ll ever make. Dr. Bill tells me about his long-term research in pediatric practice. While not a perfect correlation, in general, the kids who turn out well (emotionally, physically, and intellectually) are those who spent the most high-quality and high-touch time with their mothers at the time in their lives when it had the most long-term effects.
Follow our logic of why those early months are so important. Your baby’s brain grows faster during the first year than at any other time after birth. Therefore, your high-touch time investment and feeding her the smartest food on earth (your breastmilk) is likely to have the most long-term effects on her developing brain.
Find Middle Ground
Babies instinctively know what they need to thrive. “Thrive” is that loaded word that means growing optimally emotionally, intellectually and physically. Your baby is naturally doing what she knows is making her thrive – high-touch time with mom.
That said, I want to comment on your term “paralyzed.” I remember one day I too was feeling like that and said, “I don’t have time to even take a shower because my baby needs me so much.” Bill heard my lament and pasted a huge sign on our bathroom mirror: “Dearest Martha, please remember, what our baby needs most is a happy, rested mother.”
If you wake up feeling reasonably rested and you generally feel emotionally rested during the day, then you’re doing what is right for both of you. A red flag is if you dread going to sleep because “it’s work rather than rest.” Take that as a prompt to ease off a bit and make some changes. For example, you may find that, as she gets older, for her last stretch of sleep in the morning, when you might normally want to get up out of bed yourself, she might be able to stay asleep on her own for a while and then be ready to be awake.
Reframing Your Brain
Regarding your concerns about nap-nursing every day, think about it another way, which we call “reframing.” On the one hand, you could be thinking “I could be getting something else done…” Try reframing this into “I’m doing the most important job in the world, nurturing a human being. And those frequent nap-nursing force me to ‘really get something done’ – getting some rest myself.” Have you tried keeping her in a baby sling for some of the morning time when she wants to be asleep so that she’d nurse to sleep and be happy to stay asleep in the sling?
Find a Community of Like-Minded Mothers
Have you tried finding other mothers who have similar mothering practices? One place to meet them would be at a La Leche League series meeting. It really helps to have that kind of support. I hope you can find liked minded friends to help keep your perspective. Also, keep in mind that those hours of holding and nursing will soon pass, but the memories of your love and attachment will last a lifetime.
Martha Sears, RN
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”