We never cease to be amazed by how many parents tell us that their two to three month old baby is “sleeping through the night.” While we know that most parents who say those kinds of things are exaggerating, we find ourselves wondering why in the world they would want to exaggerate about that.
It’s natural for all of us to want our kids to be overachievers. As parents, we all tend to think that our kids are smarter, more athletic, and better looking than average. And, within limits, those are all fairly healthy delusions. But you’d think that sleeping is not something we would brag about our kids “overachieving” in.
Our response any time we hear someone claim that their new baby s already sleeping through the night is always pretty much the same: Have you spoken to your doctor about that? Because it’s not only abnormal, but could be dangerous.
We don’t mean to scare anybody. But newborn babies need to wake up regularly throughout the day and the night because they need to be fed. A newborn’s little stomach can only hold enough breast milk or formula to keep them satisfied for a few hours. In most cases, newborns shouldn’t sleep for more than four hours at a time without waking up to eat.
Breastfed babies need to eat even more frequently than bottle fed babies, and often wake up as much as every two hours. This is because breast milk, while more healthy for your baby, does not keep baby’s stomach full for nearly as long because it digests faster.
If your baby is less than three months old and she routinely sleeps for more than four hours, consult your pediatrician just to make sure everything is OK. While it’s not necessarily a sign that you need to be worried about, as long as your baby is gaining weight appropriately, you’ll want to know for sure why your baby isn’t waking up to feed as often as she should.
Expect your newborn baby to sleep somewhere between fourteen and eighteen hours per day, with sixteen hours being about average. You should also expect that sleep to come in two to four hour bursts, with a feeding and a changing between each sleep time.