Q+A: Why Does My Newborn Sleep So Much?

Find out why your baby sleeps as long as she does, and when she'll stay awake longer.

Q. My newborn sleeps so much. She wakes for feedings but then falls back asleep while I'm nursing. When will she have longer periods awake?

A. You're luckier than I was -- I couldn't even rouse my newborn to nurse! My husband and I resorted to putting cool washcloths on our daughter's legs to wake her to eat. For a newborn, nursing is like doing baby aerobics; she expends a lot of energy, so she tires quickly. But as she grows, your daughter will become increasingly alert and will stay awake longer. Typically, newborns sleep for about eight to nine hours at night and about eight hours during the day (unfortunately, these often aren't consecutive hours). So hang in there with your sleepy baby, and let her doze when tired and play when awake. By the time she hits 3 months, she should be alert for longer periods and able to handle more interaction. By 4 months, she'll be playing in those ways you dream about -- shaking rattles, batting at mobiles, and cooing back and forth with you.

Originally published in the September 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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