What Are the Signs of an Overtired Baby?

How to get an overtired baby to sleep!

It’s the bane of every parent’s existence. Not the dirty nappy or the missing dummy, it’s the overtired child. Sometimes when our little ones aren’t getting the right amount of sleep they need, they can become overtired. You’ve probably heard this term thrown around a lot and more than likely have experienced dealing with it yourself.

One of the major influences that causes children to become overtired is their perception of sleep in comparison to adults. Adults tend to welcome the notion of sleep, following their own rituals and routines surrounding it. It is seen as a reward for a hard day’s work, a respite from the daily stresses that come with life. For children though, sleep is the big scary end of the day that puts a stop to all the fun they’ve been having. In fact, a lot of children see sleep as a form of punishment, which leads to a much higher negative association with it.

As a result they will do everything in their power to avoid it, which ends with them becoming overtired and therefore, twice as hard to get to sleep. There a lot of different signs that your bub may be feeling overtired, so we’ve researched the most common ones to share with you below, followed by our own recommended methods for getting them from overtired, to overjoyed.

What are the major signs?

Constant Restlessness

Overtiredness seems to cause the opposite of the expected behaviour. If someone’s tired, surely they’d seem lazy and lethargic, right? Not when it comes to this. Being overtired causes children to go into a hyperactive state, not being able to sit still for more than 10 seconds. They might ask to play when it’s time for bed or talk so much that it all just forms into white noise after a while. One thing is for sure, they don’t want to go to bed.

The best way to deal with this is to establish a sleep routine so that your bub knows when sleep time is and when they need to rest. This works best by providing them with something before bed that they associate with calmness, such as a comforter or a sweet lullaby from the parent. Avoiding screens and games at least an hour before bed will create much better results as well.

The ‘Witching Hour’

A lot of parents tend to refer to the time between 4-6 pm as the Witching Hour, often used to give a reason for how irritable and fussy children get at this time. It is quite commonly believed that this is just kids being kids, but the truth is if your child gets the amount of sleep they need, this shouldn’t be happening. Similar to the above, the behavioural effects of overtiredness are what kickstart the Witching Hour and keep it going. Without enough sleep children will be harder to reason with (as if that’s easy in the first place) and become much fussier about when their bedtime arrives.

Extra Clingy

When children are overtired they will tend to be trying to find more and more areas of comfort, and what’s more comforting than mummy or daddy? You’ll notice your bub holding on more, following your around and possibly even dozing off on you throughout the day.

Short, Infrequent Cat-Naps

Overtired brains will do what they can to try and make up for lost sleep, and most frequently in children this will result in cat-naps. The problem with this is these naps won’t last very long at all and therefore the brain doesn’t have nearly enough time to begin restoration work. What this ends up turning into is the child becoming even MORE tired and difficult, it’s a vicious cycle. If you feel like your child, or possibly even you may be overtired, there is another in-depth article on overtiredness for all ages at healthline.com

How Can I Get Them the Sleep They Need?


It is something that we here at Glow Dreaming are constantly reaffirming: a set routine is the key to getting the best sleep possible. Make sure you set a time for each step in the bedtime process and that you stick to it like a fly in ointment. Here is an example of a well-planned bedtime routine: - 6:00pm Dinner - 6:30pm Bath (no more screens) - 7:00pm Get into pyjamas - 7:30pm Into bed for wind down time (bedtime stories/goodnight cuddles) - 7:45pm Lights out, sleep time

Once you find the routine that best suits you, write it down and make it clear to your child that this is how bedtime will be from now on (if they are at an age where they can understand). Once your routine begins to run smoothly, you will see an incredible boost to your child’s sleep and their energy throughout the day. As part of this routine you will need to make sure you’re putting them down to bed awake, not already asleep.

The best way to do so would be to begin with changing/checking their nappy before bed and getting their pj’s on. Follow this up by doing something that relaxes your child, such as reading a bedtime book together or singing a lullaby while taking them to bed.

Finally, place them in the cot and give them a kiss goodnight before letting them see you walk out of the room. If you are on the hunt for some great bedtime stories, bookdepository.com has an entire range including classics like Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are. 

Set an Appropriate Bedtime

Our other piece of advice is to set a bedtime that allows your child to get the hours of sleep they need. For children aged from 0 months-3 years, some of this sleep will need to be made through daytime naps, but older children are usually able to do it all in one night.

Below is the recommended amounts of sleep your child should be getting per day depending on their age range: - 0-6 months: 12-15 hours - 6-12 months: 11-14 hours - 1-3 years: 10-13 hours - 3-5 years: 10-12 hours - 6-13: 11 hours - Teens: 8-10 hours Setting a bedtime that best suits these sleep times will create not only a rested child, but a happy one too.

It is best to set out their day naps in turn so that they are not sleeping any longer than 2 hours in the day as this will also have an effect on making them overtired all over again. If you follow these steps and keep an eye out for the signs of overtiredness, you will be able to get your little one back to sleeping all night and being an angel throughout the day.

Create A Healthy Sleep Routine For Your Child, Leaving You Both Rested And Rejuvenated.



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