Everything you need to know about Overtired Babies
Over tiredness is the word I most commonly use when talking to parents to describe their baby’s sleeping patterns!
An over tired baby is too tired to sleep (Before you were a parent, bet you didn’t think this was possible?)…. Over tired babies cry lots, fuss more, are difficult to settle.
Once you get your over tired baby to sleep, they usually wake after 20-30 minutes and have trouble getting back to sleep. (Linking their sleep cycles.)
What happens to your baby when they are over tired?
Your baby has stayed awake well past the length of time their little body can tolerate. In order to continue to stay awake without napping their bodies stress responses kick in. Cortisol and adrenaline are pumped out into the body, this enables the body to stay awake when it is very over tired. You might notice your baby get what is called a second wind?
This second wind is due to the stress hormones enabling the body to stay awake and function as normal. Us adults also get this second wind when we don’t sleep enough.
Once your baby is over tired, it is even more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is why a lot of poor sleep habits are characterized as a response to your baby being over tired.
Sleep patterns bought on by over tiredness
- Short naps
- Wake ups in the early evening
- 2 hourly wake ups overnight
- 20-30 minute naps
- No linking of sleep cycles after 4 months of age
- Early wake ups
- Extreme crying and difficulty settling
- Witching hour past 6 weeks
- Learn more about baby sleep patterns in our online sleep program
What are the physical signs your baby is over tired?
- Clingy baby who doesn’t want to be put down.
- Sneezing or Hiccuping
- Rubbing face and eyes excessively
- Second wind behaviour
- Inconsolable crying and unable to be settled, can appear to have colic
What can you do to prevent over tiredness?
Watch your baby for early tired signs, and clock watch at the same time. You will notice a pattern of how long they can easily stay awake before. This will enable you to relax your observation skills and not miss their perfect nap windows. After working with thousands of babies myself, I have developed these FREE nap routines you can download and use as a guide to avoid over tiredness.
If you think your babies frequent wake ups and unsettled-ness could be due to over tiredness, you are best to develop a full plan to work out why your baby is over tired. Do they need to learn to self settle to settle faster? Do they need a better or different routine? They might need more frequent naps while we work on establishing consolidated night sleep.
When we work with over tired babies, it is a careful balance between getting on top of sleep debt, while getting to the route of the issue and not making things worse. Sometimes we’ll break up your plan into segments and master nights before naps, or morning nap before lunch nap and so on. This allows us to increase your babies total sleep while still meeting our goals and changing the way your baby sleeps.
More Baby Sleep Advice on 4 month sleep regression
More Toddler Sleep Advice on top 5 toddler sleep issues
View our online sleep program HERE
"We have just finished working with Daniela from Wellington and it was literally life changing. My only regret is that I didn’t discover her earlier!
Demi has just turned 18 months old and she was 7 weeks prem. She has never been a good sleeper, battling with terrible reflux and co - sleeping habits. Our main issue at this point was frequent night waking and early starts . Within two days of working with Daniela Demi was sleeping through the night! We actually didn’t even think she was capable of this. The best part....she had continued to do so every night since and this was 3 weeks ago. She now goes down without a sound for a solid two hour day day nap and sleeps through from 6.30pm.
Daniela touched base again after our time together to see how things were and she helped me make the final tweaks to Demi’s routine. A life changing experience for my family." ~ Brooke
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Try our online sleep program, complete with FREE email support.
My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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