If your baby becomes overtired, it can make it more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s important to be aware of the signs that your baby may be getting overtired so you can better anticipate their sleep schedule and put them down before they get too exhausted.
Overtired babies not only have a more challenging time settling down due to being fussy but also usually wake up more often during the night. This leads to poor overall sleep quality and continues the cycle, resulting in a baby who seems to always be cranky when, in reality, they are just overtired. If your baby is not getting enough sleep, their body will release adrenaline and cortisol as a stress response, making it difficult for them to relax and go to sleep.
Knowing the signs that your baby is overtired can help identify the problem and start to instill healthy sleep habits as soon as possible.
Signs Your Baby is Overtired
All babies are different, but there are a few things to look out for to determine if your baby is overtired.
They are fussy or cranky.
They have difficulty settling down to sleep.
They react poorly to frustration or pain.
They take short catnaps instead of full naps.
They tend to have a melt down in response to stress.
They fall asleep easily throughout the day.
They have trouble sleeping through the night.
How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?
One of the best ways to prevent your baby from getting overtired is to make sure they are getting enough sleep. Depending on their age, their sleep needs may vary and will likely be split across multiple sessions, including nighttime sleep (with feedings) and naps. Some general sleep guidelines are below.
Newborns: 14-17 hours a day (8-9 hours at night, 7-9 hours during naps)
1-2 months: 12-16 hours a day (8-10 hours at night, 4-8 hours during naps)
2-3 months: 11-14 hours a day (9-10 hours at night, 1.5-2 hours during naps)
3-6 months: 12-15 hours a day (10-11 hours at night, 3-4 hours during naps)
6+ months: 11-14 hours a day (9-11 hours at night, 2-3 hours during naps)
Between three and six months, you should be able to reduce the number of night feedings you are doing. Around six months old, your baby should be able to “sleep through the night” or sleep for at least six to eight hours at a time without feeding him or her.
Prevent Your Baby from Getting Overtired
The best way to deal with an overtired baby is to prevent it from happening in the first place. It is essential to be aware of your baby’s sleep cues so you know when they are starting to get tired and can get them down to sleep. These may include pulling on their ears or hair, rubbing their eyes, or yawning. At the first sign of these sleep cues, start your nap or bedtime routine, so they know it’s time to sleep.
Speaking of bedtime routines, they can be helpful to naturally transition your baby from daytime to sleep without the need to get overtired. Try a bath, lullabies, reading a book, or any quiet activities that help your baby relax. Keeping the routine consistent will teach your baby that it is time for them to get tired and relax so they can more easily fall asleep.
As a part of your bedtime routine, remove anytime that may cause overstimulation for your baby before they go down to sleep. Playtime, loud noises, or distracting TV shows may keep your baby awake for longer than necessary, leading to them getting overtired rather than winding down.