profile picture of Alanna Levine, MD
Alanna Levine, MD
Pediatrician

Can A Baby Be Too Sleepy?

Does it seem like baby sleeps all the time? Find out if it's normal newborn behavior.

Your sleep-starved mom friends might think you’re crazy for worrying about baby oversleeping, but it’s common for new parents to be surprised by just how much their newborn babies sleep. Here’s the deal: It’s totally normal for a newborn to sleep a lot. After all, growing is tiring work! Read on to learn how many hours of shuteye infants typically get, and what to do if baby won’t wake for a feeding.

How Much Do Newborns Sleep?

Newborn babies generally sleep around 16 hours a day, but it could be 18 to 20 hours or more. As the months pass, babies tend to sleep less and increase the amount of time they’re awake during the day—but especially in the beginning, it’s normal to have to wake baby up for a feeding, and some babies are easier to wake than others. As long as baby is having good feedings and pooping and peeing enough (newborns should wet at least eight diapers a day; older babies who are sleeping through the night should wet at least four), it’s not a cause for concern.

How to Wake Baby for Feedings

If baby’s perfectly healthy but just a tad sleepy, celebrate the fact that your baby is a good sleeper! Just make sure she’s getting the right number of feedings for her age. In the first month, that’s eight to 12 feedings per day for breastfed babies, or seven to eight feedings for formula-fed infants.

Having trouble waking your little snoozer up for mealtime? You might have to use a few tricky tactics to rouse him. Here, a few tips:

Unswaddle baby. Sometimes it just takes a little less coziness to get baby to wake up. Take off her swaddle blanket and undress her a bit, and she just might feel cool enough to open her eyes.

Change baby’s diaper. A little freshening up (and a wet wipe on his bum) can help wake baby.

Give baby a sponge bath. A gentle sponge bath with a warm, wet washcloth is likely to get baby to perk up.

If baby won’t wake for feedings and has a fever, call your pediatrician. In baby’s first two months of life, a fever of 100.4 or higher could be a sign of a serious infection and should be checked out immediately. If baby is older than two months, it’s less of a concern but still worth a doctor’s visit.

Updated August 2017

Plus, more from The Bump:

Biggest Baby Sleep Myths

Crazy Things Tired Moms Did

Best and Worst Things About Having a Newborn

PHOTO: Erin Wallis