It is a parent’s duty to worry. It is what we do. Did you find this page after noticing that your little one is STILL sleeping? Maybe a lot more than normal? And she had a round of vaccinations that day, or perhaps the day before? And it drove you to the google to search “why is my baby sleeping a lot after vaccinations?”
You aren’t the only one to worry
Of all the milestones in our baby’s life, vaccinations are one a constant during the early years. Beginning at birth and regular intervals afterwards, they are after all a recurring visit to the pediatrician’s office early on. Every baby reacts differently to them. Some cry, while others take it in stride. My own girls slept through some of their vaccinations. Although they are routine, first-time parents may not be ready for how their children respond to vaccinations.
Similarly, I was like many first-time parents when I noticed how much my kids slept after their vaccinations. Was there something wrong? Were they reacting negatively? Like many parents I was concerned. Fortunately, my pediatrician (like most) took my calls with a smile. That sleepiness, as I found out, was normal.
Gaining Immunity is Hard Work
Babies are resilient, but still so weak and vulnerable. Vaccinations are there to grow their immunity and to protect them. I looked at my little ones there in the pediatrician’s office and just melted when they got their shots. I couldn’t explain to them what was happening. All I could do was hold them in spite of the shock of it all. Sometimes the trauma was more to me than them!
But let’s face it: building immunity is hard work. Let’s take a look at what your baby is really experiencing during these visits. First, the vaccines contain the actual virus for the body to detect and build its immunity against. Remember all the times you were sick? You probably felt wiped out because your body was garnering its resources to fight off the source of infection. It’s no different for baby. She’s mustering all her strength to fight off this perceived invader. In light of this, it’s a perfectly natural response.
Second, there is pain involved with the vaccinations. These shots do hurt. Following the shot, your baby may cry. She’s going to be sore. Consider all the energy spent reacting to the injection crying and squirming. For an infant, even a toddler, this equates to a load of physical and emotional exertion.
We’ve all had bad days as adults. Who hasn’t? Look back on how you felt after a particularly draining day at work, or dealing with an emotionally charged situation. Most likely, you ended that day with a comforting meal and dozed off early in the evening. It’s no different for your baby after a round of vaccinations. If she takes the breast or bottle and falls into a deep sleep, remember to take all of this into consideration.
Should you worry?
The short answer is no. Modern vaccinations are safe and effective. In reality, the reactions to nearly all vaccinations are minor. Some of these will include sleepiness, minor redness at the injection site, or even a low fever that subsides. Of course, there will be the rare cases of a reaction or significant swelling at the injection site. In cases like these, call your pediatrician immediately. But reactions like these are far from the norm. It’s an issue you should be aware of, and discuss with your pediatrician, but not one that should cause you any excess worry.
Of course, the benefits of vaccinating your child far outweigh the small risk for an adverse reaction. In reality these reactions are minimal and affect a fraction of the percentage of children receiving vaccinations. The reality is that your child is more likely to sleep off the negative aspects of the experience. What does this mean for you? Simply, enjoy the extra bit of downtime, use it to relax, nap, or catch up on the to-do list that never seems to grow shorter.
Leave the worrying for another day. Instead, be present and ready to comfort your baby after her vaccinations. There will be plenty of time to worry in the future. Don’t let vaccinations wear on you too much. Your baby will pick up on that, and you know it!
Sleeping After Vaccinations
Most infants sleep in excess of fifteen hours per day. There are estimates that an infant will sleep an extra hour (some more, some less) after vaccinations. What seems like an overabundance of sleep is, in reality, little more than an hour for most infants. There are some studies that indicate, however, that the timing of the vaccinations will affect sleep patterns. Some babies slept more if vaccinated later in the day, whereas babies vaccinated earlier in the day actually had less sleep.
What this suggests is that afternoon vaccinations are more likely to provide restorative sleep. Further, it’s possible that the increased level of sleep is more likely to create a better immune response in your little one. It’s not a proven theory, but the occurrence of this type of behavior in studies is suggestive of the positive effects of vaccinating later in the day. What it means for parents is an added bonus: it minimizes the possibility of a day filled with fussing. In addition, it is also possible that the vaccinations will not affect your baby’s natural sleep patterns at night.
Keep in mind that vaccinations provide overstimulation to your baby on many levels. Just like a holiday, or entertaining visitors, vaccinations take your baby out of her daily routine. And for her, just like us, those deviations are exhausting. Do your best to soother her afterwards, and minimize the stresses to her.
Remember those days, sleeping in after a long week? That’s what your baby is feeling like after her vaccinations. If you can, make the appointment coincide with the end of your work day or week. I know that as a working parent it’s not always easy to do. But if you can, sleep in together. It’s the little moments that build our relationship with our little ones. Small milestones like these are huge for your baby, and for us parents, in this regard. Because on the end, it’s all in the name of baby’s health and prosperity.
Thanks for stopping by!
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.