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How do I know if my baby is overtired

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Many parents come to believe their baby requires less sleep than normal and put up with no naps or catnaps. Over time overtiredness will begin to effect night sleep, and a child that was sleeping well overnight due to sheer exhaustion will begin to wake frequently in the night (despite little nap time) due to the sustained elevation of cortisol and adrenaline which are released as a survival mechanism in children when they do not get sleep when they are tired.

Overtiredness is especially common amongst newborns as they can be difficult to read and are extremely good at pretending they are ready to party when in fact they are exhausted.

If your baby is waking after 30 minutes into naps or waking shortly after bedtime, then your child is most probably in an overtired cycle.

To prevent this, look out for tired signs and put baby to bed before you miss the window of optimal drowsiness. Babies are more likely to self-settle if they are put down when tired.

Tired signs:

- Decreasing activity

- Appearing bored

- Rubbing eyes (closer to 3 months)

- Yawning

- Wanting to be held

- Wanting dummy

- Red eyebrows and closed fists in newborns

- Increase in reflux symptoms

Over-tired signs:

-Excessive leg kicking and arm waving (running in circles older children)


-Screaming (short temper in older children)

-Resistance to sleep

-Refusing milk

-Selective hearing in toddlers (INCREASE in selective hearing).

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