Sleep is essential for the development and health of your little one and an overtired baby often doesn’t feed well. This can cause your family life to turn upside down as an overtired baby can be an almighty challenge for new parents – or old hands – and it tends to look quite different from what you would expect. They might actually look more awake and hyperactive than usual, as they are overstimulated and not giving you the usual tired cues.
Here are a few things to know:
1. There is a fine line between not tired and overtired – it’s why a routine is so important. When you know they have had enough sleep, you can trust your instincts about there being something else going on. Without a routine, you are making a bit of a guess as to whether they need more or less sleep.
2. Sleep is important. Not just for babies. Chances are when your baby is overtired, so are you. It’s hard to make sensible choices and much easier to pick the path of least resistance which can often make the situation a bit of a vicious cycle.
3. The most common reason for over tiredness is too little day time sleep or a lack of nighttime sleep for older babies. The biggest mistake is to think that keeping a baby up all day means that they will sleep all night – this is often a key cause of over tiredness.
4. An overtired baby tends to struggle to get into a deep sleep, often waking around the 30 minute mark. You might be tempted to give up and assume they aren’t ready for a nap, but instead want to be awake for longer. Instead, at this point, keep your nerve and try to resettle and break the cycle. Overtired babies struggle to get to sleep, stay asleep and most surprisingly, wake up earlier – those 5 am starts are often from babies who have gone to sleep too late, not too early.
A quick guide to naps:
– Newborns sleep for most of the day on and off
– 2-6 months need around 4 hours of day sleep
– 6-12 months need around 3 hours a day
– 12 months needs around 2.5 hours depending on how active or busy your little one is – it needs to be in one long block so they can get a really deep sleep.
So what to do:
1. Watch for sleep cues – yawning, touching eyes/ears, intense dummy sucking, long stare, less talking and energy.
2. Stop all stimulation – dark room, swaddling for younger babies, no frantic rocking but perhaps a constant rhythm of patting.
3. Feed if you can – so baby goes off with a full tummy and doesn’t wake to eat later.
I can help you put a full sleep plan and routine together, to ensure you get into a comfortable pattern to suit you and your little one – always tailored to the parenting style you are most comfortable with. Get in touch with your questions or to find out about my packages.