Tired signs are confusing!
New-born babies display very distinctive tired signs when you know what to look for, and it’s important to learn these signs as every new parent quickly learns, an over tired baby is one who cries rather than sleeps.
In the very early days (1-2 weeks old) you can literally feed your baby, burp and change them and they will be ready to sleep again. But as the weeks move on your routine might become more feed – play sleep, it is during this “play” that we are looking for tired signs.
There is a fine line between early tired signs and late tired signs, we try to catch a new-born at the early tired sign, take them to their bassinet and settle them quickly off to sleep.
Waiting for a late tired sign like yawning can actually mean you have already missed the wave of sleepiness which washes over your baby, and they are now beginning to develop a second wind which will mean they fight going to sleep, fight the swaddle, and they cry and are difficult to get drowsy again.
Early signs that this wave of sleepiness is beginning to build include decreased activity and slower motions.
Your baby might have been busy trying to hit a toy on her play gym when suddenly she slows down, and does this less.
This is an early sign your baby is getting tired, wait another 10 minutes and she will start to show increased activity; hitting that toy more and more and appear baby hyper.
This is a clear sign she is now over tired and needed to be in bed 10 minutes ago.
If you are still feeding your baby, her sucking might become weaker, or if you having cuddles she might become quiet and calm or burrow into you, that baby babble stops.
These too are early tired signs, and a good indicator you should start heading towards swaddling and settling to sleep. If you miss these signs and your baby is now chatting very loudly or becoming grizzly or even crying, these are very late tired signs.
A lot of new mum’s enjoy it when their baby becomes excessively “chatty” or animated, but this is often a late tired sign missed by those who don’t know.
Babies also start to lose interest in their surroundings when they are tired, they might no longer make eye contact with you, or stop looking at their toy.
They are losing the ability to concentrate just like you and I when we are tired. This can be an easy one to miss if your visitors are playing pass the baby after a feed, and she will be likely to get tired sooner as she tried to learn everybody’s new face and take in a lot of new information.
They can also get droopy eyes or red eye brows, which is a big tell-tale sign for a lot of parents once they spot it.
The main signs new mums are generally looking for is yawning and eye rubbing, these two signs are generally late tired signs, and often new babies can’t rub their eyes for a good 8-12 weeks, they just don’t have the co-ordination.
Yawning is a good indicator your baby is tired once they are 4 months +, but then once they get mobile we get into the tricky situation where they might be out of sight when that first yawn appears and by the time you see the yawn, they are grumpy and over tired, you missed the first 3 yawns as they were rolling under the table.
The solution to this is a combination of clock watching and baby watching. If you haven’t seen any tired signs in your baby under 12 weeks old, and they have been awake for 1.5 hour’s I suggest you start your wind down ritual regardless and get them ready for bed.
There is a good chance you missed the sign you are looking for and they are getting over tired.
If your baby is between 3-6 months old and you haven’t seen a yawn or any of the early tired signs and they have been awake for 2 hours + it’s time to begin their sleep routine.
If your baby is waking up crying after 20-40 minutes and is noticeably upset this too is a sign you have missed their tired signs and they have gone to bed over tired.
As your baby gets older the switch from early tired to late tired is faster and more dramatic, older children show late tired signs like refusing to eat their solids, or breastfeed/bottle-fed well.
If they are crawling or even walking they will become clumsy and fall over more frequently.
Once they are toddlers and you let them skip a nap or stay up late they quickly move through hyperactivity and deliriously happy to tantrum mode in lightning speed.
Take the confusion out of tired signs and sleep cues with our online sleep program.
The only available online sleep program, with free email support from a team of certified sleep consultants.
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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