Most parents will agree that taking care of a baby isn’t an easy task. But it is also important to know that it gets more challenging when dealing with an overtired baby.

Overtiredness means that your baby’s body is past the point of being ready for sleep. During this time, your baby’s stress response system is activated. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, flood the bloodstream and make it harder for your overtired baby to calm down and relax. The more overtired your baby becomes, the harder it is for him to fall asleep. 

This can become a pattern and even worsen the condition of your overtired baby over time. However, this should not be the case especially if you’ll be able to recognise the signs of an overtired baby as soon as they manifest. 

Clueless? Here’s an infographic from Nurture Parenting that presents 12 signs that will tell you what to  take note of to know if you have an overtired baby.

12 Telltale Signs of an Overtired Baby

12 Telltale Signs of an Overtired Baby

Causes that Lead to An Overtired Baby

An overtired baby is someone who is too tired to sleep. Oftentimes, this baby exhibits crankiness or signs of irritability. 

Here are the other factors affecting an overtired baby:

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Skipped naps
  3. Late bedtime
  4. Unrestful sleep

12 Signs that You Have an Overtired Baby

#1. Yawns

This is one of the most common signs to check for an overtired baby. Like other people, your baby will yawn when he’s tired. To keep your little one from becoming an overtired baby, it is best to let him go to sleep before the third yawn.

#2. Hand Movements

Another indication that your baby’s tired is when he starts to rub his eyes, eyebrows, or head. Pulling of ears is another common sign among overtired babies. 

TIP: Most of the time, a baby is already sleepy or tired when he reaches for the top of his head and rub the part.

#3. Changes in Facial Expressions

Parents need to observe their babies during their active state as well as when they are already drowsy. Once you notice a change in your baby’s facial expression from happiness to grumpiness, you may already be dealing with signs of an overtired baby.

#4. Blank Stares 

Have you noticed that your baby is not looking at you directly? Your baby has a tendency to stare blankly into the distance if he is tired.

Aside from blank stares, an overtired baby may also show:

    • Difficulty in maintaining eye contact 
    • Closing of eyes when you’re trying to interact

#5. Body Stiffness

Your baby might clench his fists to indicate his tiredness. Your overtired baby may also have tense body movements from his hands and legs.

#6. Latching Difficulty

An overtired baby may also show difficulty in latching and might cry at your breast.

Did you know: In older babies, the act of throwing anything in their hands, such as food and toys, is one sign of overtiredness.

#7. Self-soothing Acts

Does your baby suck his own thumb? Or is he rooting for a pacifier? These are common responses if you happen to ignore the signs of an overtired baby. They resort to self-soothing actions to comfort themselves when they are already tired.

#8. Lack of Interest

Instead of being playful and alert to people, an overtired baby can start to lose interest in their surroundings. This includes rejecting their favorite food or toy.

#9. Clingy Behaviour

Surprised that your baby is suddenly clingier than normal? This is another sign your baby yearns for sleep. It can be displayed in different ways depending on each individual baby. For instance, your overtired baby might cry and beg for you to hold them.

Did you know: Parents aren’t the only one who has to deal with separation anxiety, babies have them too. And when it comes to this, babies often ignore their dads and cling more to their mums.

#10. Autonomic Signals

These refer to signals that become apparent without your baby’s conscious control. All of these examples are signs of an overtired baby:

    1. Sneezing
    2. Sweaty palms
    3. Quick breathe
    4. Hiccups
    5. Blueness around the mouth in infants

#11. Overactivity

You might interpret this as a sign that your baby is ready to play. However, it can also tell that your baby is having sleep difficulties. An overtired baby will become physically active as the awake period wears on.

Awake time guidelines:

    • Newborn (0-2 months old) = 45 minutes to 1 hour
    • 6 months old = 2 hours
    • Toddler (12-36 months old) = 4 to 5 hours

#12. Whimpers and Cries 

An overtired baby would often begin to fuss, whimper, and even cry when they can’t sleep. Babies resort to these acts to communicate what they need and want.

Added Tips to Help Your Overtired Baby

Helping an overtired baby get to sleep is a must and you can start by creating a calm environment before bedtime. Below are some of the tips that you can follow to manage your overtired baby.

  • Refrain from activities that can overstimulate your baby especially before bedtime.
  • Maintain a routine that you and your baby can stick to each night.
  • Keep your bedroom suited for a goodnight sleep. Make it cool, quiet, and dark.
  • Avoid unnecessary noises that may keep your baby awake longer.
  • Watch out for signs that your baby is already sleepy.

READ MORE: How to Settle an Overtired Baby

Every infant is unique and so are the signs that indicate you have an overtired baby. As parents, you’d want to make sure that you’re reading your baby’s signals correctly. This way, you will be able to address specific needs and give them quality sleep.

Need help in getting your overtired baby to sleep? Nurture Parenting offers baby sleep training for parents who are having trouble caring for an  overtired baby. With years of experience teaching many newborns how to self-settle, our Nurture Sleep Program is a tried-and-tested approach that can help your little one sleep through the night. Learn more by contacting us today.

Did you find this article helpful? Visit our blog regularly for more informative articles about baby sleep training.

Nurture Parenting - The Nurture Sleep Program

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