Does My Baby Sleep Too Much?
Actually, that is a question my wife and I used to ask a lot when our baby, Lilyanna was less than six months old. Lilyanna was always sleeping. No matter what happens she just wouldn’t wake up. It doesn’t matter if my wife was chopping carrots really loudly on the chopping board.
It doesn’t matter if I made farts that’s louder than a mythological creature that destroyed a mountain in one hit. I doesn’t matter even if I was breaking all the glass in the house with my awesome singing. Lilyanna’s grandmother (my mom) even went the extra mile of tickling her with a feather to wake her up. Well, the truth is, she did wake up after the feather trick but it only lasted for a minute and she drifted right back to sleep. She was invincible in terms of sleeping.
We were concerned of course. I got paranoid and double checked my daughter’s breathing thirty times a day to make sure my daughter isn’t going to end up dying from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). In the end, we went for a visit at the pediatrician’s office. It was time for Lilyanna’s vaccine. We were kind of expecting her to be crying a lot after taking a needle. Well, she did cry after receiving the shot, but it only lasted three seconds, and she drifted right back to sleep. Oh man, praise my daughter who has claimed the title as the lord of sleeping.
We asked the pediatrician about this. She checked Lilyanna’s weight, temperature, head circumference, and finally concluded that our daughter is doing absolutely fine. As long she is eating and developing properly, there shouldn’t be anything to be concerned about. I was concerned because our baby daughter seems to sleep even more than the “normal” amount of 16 to 18 hours. However, the doctor concluded that if our daughter is developing correctly, we should just enjoy our baby’s quiet moments. Of course, we found out later those quiet moments certainly didn’t last.
Babies Need An Extra Trimester
As I mentioned in a previous article, babies are born underdeveloped. This is why it is normal for them to sleep so much in the beginning. In reality, they actually need an extra trimester to fully develop. Of course, it is not realistic for them to develop any further in their mother’s womb, or else they won’t be able to come out the birth canal due to their size of their head. Humans have big heads after all. If you think about it, babies have done nothing but sleeping inside their mother’s womb for the past nine months. It only makes sense for them to continue doing that if they want to develop further.
Check to See If Your Baby Is Gaining Weight
If your baby is gaining weight, and looking healthy then her sleepiness is absolutely normal. The whole point is for her to absorb enough nutrients in her body to grow. You can check this by recording the amount, of milk she drank, and the amount of diapers you changed. Check her fontanel (the soft beating part of her skull) for signs of dehydration. If she hasn’t drank enough milk, that area will sink in. Ideally speaking, you should wake her up every four hours for a feeding.
Every Baby Is Different
The apparent standard for baby sleep hours is roughly 16 to 18 hours. However, if you judged a baby based on that number then there will be at least thousands of abnormal babies in existence. The key isn’t to judge how much your baby is sleeping. The idea is to figure out how well your baby is developing. You have to learn the milestones of baby development.
For example, when my daughter was born, she tend to hold a tight fist with both hands. This is a good sign because this is one of the development milestones. Since she is so hard to wake up, I used to stick my index finger into my daughter’s clenched fist when she is sleeping.
It feels awesome when she is grabbing my finger with her little hands. She will never know I did this. This is one benefit of having a sleepy baby (hehehe). There are other signs of development to watch out for like her putting her little hands into her mouth, making jerky movements, opening and closing her hands, crawling, walking, etc. You get the idea.
However, being extra sleepy is one thing, you still have to watch out for signs that your baby might be sick. When your baby is sick, it might be a little subtle. If you are unsure of whether your baby is sick or not, ask your doctor right away.
Signs Of Sickness
I am not a doctor, so don’t rely on this part as diagnosis. These are just helpful guidelines that helps alert you if something seems abnormal for your baby. Always ask your pediatrician for the final advice.
The soft part on your baby’s skull is known as the fontanel. This soft skull can take up to 1.5 to 2 years close completely. However, before it closes, it can be a great indicator of whether you baby is sick or not. As mentioned earlier, if it is sunken then it indicates dehydration. If your baby starts developing an orange or pink spot in the diaper she is very dehydrated.
If your baby’s fontanel looks swollen and feels somewhat hard to the touch then it means something is wrong with the brain. It could either mean there’s fluid build up in the brain, or the brain tissues itself have problems. Contact your doctor right away if you have this problem.
If your baby has fluid buildup in the lung due to some kind of infection, then her breathing would be rather fast and she might cough a lot. In this case your baby might also look a little purplish. On the other hand, if your baby has asthma, then she would make wheezing sounds that is almost like a whistle. Of course, never make your own diagnosis. Contact a doctor if you see a slight sign of abnormality.
If your baby is three months or younger, the first thing you should watch out for is whether your baby has a fever. This could be sometimes obvious if your baby’s face is abnormally red. However, double check your baby’s temperature for sure. If your baby is at least 100.4o F or higher, then consider it a fever. For an adult, a little fever, might be fine, but a fever for a newborn is lethal. Take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible.
When your baby is sleeping, it is because she conserving energy to grow big and strong. However, when she is awake, she should be energetic and active. She should show some kind of interest in the adults or colorful shapes around. If she always seems sluggish and not caring about the interesting colors and shapes around her, then that’s not a good sign. This is a sign of listlessness. In this case the baby might seem a little limp and weak instead of energetic and jerky. Listlessness can indicate that your baby is using all her energy to fight an infection.
If you tried everything but still can’t calm your baby’s crying, this could also be a bad sign. However, before you jump to conclusions, make sure she isn’t injured anywhere. Sometimes a baby might scratch herself by accident, got an insect bite, or be bleeding somewhere.
Years ago, on the news, there was a baby that died because a sewing needle was accidentally penetrated thoroughly into her heart. Of course, once the needle is all the way inside, there’s no way you can actually see it. The baby kept crying for hours and nobody in the house could figure out the reason. Eventually the baby died.
If your baby is crying like that, take her clothes off and check her skin, mouth, toes, and eyes for signs of blood, scratches, or bumpiness. If you don’t find any of that, and your baby keeps crying while looking a little feverish, then she is probably sick. Contact your doctor right away to get advice.
I get that babies often cry for every little thing, and parents like you and I become desensitized to it. However, no matter how stressful it is, calm down and try to keep an open mind so you can avoid tragedies that I mentioned earlier.
If your baby ate something she is allergic to, then it is normal for her to get skin rashes. Unless it is a serious allergic reaction, it is usually nothing to lose your sleep over. However, if she is getting purple blotches, especially the tongue, head, back and chest areas, then that can be a very serious medical emergency. Call your doctor immediately for this situation.
I mentioned earlier that making slight jerky movements is a development milestone for your baby. However, if your baby is suddenly making weird violent movements, then it might be a convulsion. A convulsion might indicate brain damage. Usually, this can come after a fever.
If your baby seems to have trouble eating or refuses to eat then that could mean that your baby has some kind of throat infection or fungus infection (thrush). The infection makes it extremely painful for her to eat. Sometimes she might even throw up because her stomach is irritated.
Anyway, if your baby doesn’t show any signs of sickness, then she is probably just a very sleepy baby just like my daughter. It is nothing to lose your sleep over. Trust me, the times where babies sleep a lot and stay quiet only happens in the beginning. Later on, you would wish those moments come back. Anyway, happy parenting. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.