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Can your baby be alert and happy but still be overtired?

Ever heard of the happy baby who has only napped 30 minutes and still puts up a fight come bedtime? This is thanks to the body producing stimulating (stress) hormones to keep them awake once they’ve missed their sleepy window. That's right, you can have a content baby who is overtired yet running on fumes.

An overtired newborn will cry A LOT. What about older babies? Will they be constantly grumpy and crying?

No- your baby’s overtiredness may now present in different ways. Some babies will seem hyperactive and wired, others will seem constantly tired but refuse nap re-settles. There are calm and happy babies who are incredibly happy awake but religiously resist naps and bedtime.

For young babies, the best way out of an overtired cycle is assisted naps. This means getting your baby to sleep any which way, to prevent them producing cortisol and adrenaline for energy.

For overtired older babies and those younger babies who have been assisted out of an overtired state, I suggest the following:

1. Find your baby’s perfect awake time. Look up awake times for your baby’s age, trial using this awake time for 3-7 days before deciding it Is too short or too long. If baby is not showing tired signs at this time they may need longer, if baby screams and takes a while to settle, they may need shorter windows to begin with.

2. Implement an early bedtime. Bedtime between 6 and 7pm will mean that your baby can reap the benefits of the deep sleep that occurs between 7 and 11pm. Putting a baby who has napped poorly to bed early, can make a huge difference to the way they sleep overnight.

3. Re-settle at least 1 nap. A longer restorative lunch nap will positively impact night sleep. Make sure the longest nap doesn’t begin at 2 or 3pm. We want to work with the baby’s circadian rhythm so optimal times for sleep are 9-10am, 12-2pm and 6-7pm.

4. Re-settle early wakes. Getting your baby up between 4 and 6am will mean they start the day on the back foot. Teach your baby that it is ‘sleep time’ or ‘rest in their cot time’ until at least 6:30am. Sleeping in is a skill!

Not sure whether your baby is overtired or undertired? You are not alone. Reach out today to learn more about how Counting Sleep can help you.

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