As a new parent, it can be challenging to understand your baby’s needs, especially when it comes to sleep. One of the most common issues parents face is an overtired baby. An overtired baby is one who has been awake for too long and is struggling to fall asleep. This can lead to a host of problems, including fussiness, crying, and difficulty in calming down. In this article, we will discuss the signs of an overtired baby and ways to soothe them.
Babies who don’t sleep enough and who stay awake for longer than they can handle end up having a stress response — an increase in adrenaline and cortisol — making it trickier for them to wind down for bed. Here are some signs that your baby may be overtired:
- Yawning: This is an obvious one, right? More yawning is a sign that your baby is tired.
- Crying: An overtired baby becomes more fussy and cries easily.
- Difficult to soothe: When your baby becomes overtired, their stress response system goes into high gear, triggering cortisol and adrenaline to flood into their little bodies. These culprits can render your attempts to calm your baby pretty futile.
- Touching their face: A tired infant may rub their eyes and face or tug at their ears.
- Becoming clingy: Your baby may hold on to you determinedly and insist that you take care of them.
- Whimpering: Tired babies may whimper and then move on to full-blown crying.
- Fussiness: Your baby may appear irritable.
- Arching the back and squirming: She may also appear uncomfortable.
- Being demanding: Your baby is unhappy whether you pick her up or put her down.
- Clumsiness: Older babies tend to become especially clumsy and unable to focus.
How to Soothe an Overtired Baby?
If you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to soothe your baby. Here are some tips to help your little one fall asleep:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine: Follow a consistent bedtime routine every night. This helps baby transition from awake time to sleep time. Use an abridged version before naps.
- Create a calm and dark environment: Darken your baby’s room to reduce the stimulation.
- Use white noise, soft music, or singing to soothe the baby: Some babies are soothed by white noise, soft music, or the sound of your singing.
- Use a baby sling and walk around with the baby: Putting your overtired baby in a baby sling and walking around with her might just be what she needs to help her fall asleep. This helps in two ways: babies feel most comfortable and secure when they’re with their parents, and the motion of walking around can be soothing, too.
- Offer a pacifier or comfort object: Pacifiers or comfort objects can help soothe your baby.
- Try swaddling or gentle rocking: Swaddling or gentle rocking can help your baby feel secure and calm.
In a perfect scenario, you’d stop your baby’s overtiredness before it even starts. Here are some tips for preventing your baby from getting overtired:
- Watch for sleep cues: They include eye rubbing, crankiness, ear or hair pulling, yawning, and so on, and respond promptly by getting baby in for a nap or for bedtime at the first sign that she’s tired.
- Learn your baby’s signs: It’s important to pay attention and get baby to bed before they reach the “overtired” part. Signs your baby may be fighting sleep include pulling their ears, becoming clingier to their caregiver, rubbing eyes, zoning out, and being less social and less engaged.
- Avoid overstimulation: Do not overstimulate before naptime or bedtime. That means that if they are awake for too long or if they’re in a stimulating environment, they may become overtired.
An overtired baby can be a challenge for new parents. However, by learning the signs of an overtired baby and ways to soothe them, you can help your little one get the rest they need. Remember to establish a consistent bedtime routine, create a calm and dark environment, use white noise or soft music, offer a pacifier or comfort object, and try swaddling or gentle rocking. By preventing overtiredness, you can help your baby get the sleep they need to grow and thrive.