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Updated by Nurture Parenting on Jan 27, 2020
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12 Signs That You Have an Overtired Baby

Overtiredness means that your baby’s body is past the point of being ready for sleep. During this time, your baby’s stress response system is activated. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, flood the bloodstream and make it harder for your baby to calm down and relax. The more overtired your baby becomes, the harder it is for him to fall asleep.

Clueless? Here’s are 12 signs that will tell you what to take note of to know if you have an overtired baby.



This is one of the most common signs to check for overtiredness. Like other people, your baby will yawn when he’s tired. To keep your baby from becoming overtired, it is best to let him go to sleep before the third yawn.


Hand Movements

Another indication that your baby’s tired is when he starts to rub his eyes, eyebrows, or head. Pulling of ears is another common sign among overtired babies.

TIP: Most of the time, a baby is already sleepy or tired when he reaches for the top of his head and rub the part.


Changes in Facial Expressions

Parents need to observe their babies during their active state as well as when they are already drowsy. Once you notice a change in your baby’s facial expression from happiness to grumpiness, your baby may already be showing signs that he is getting tired.


Blank Stares

Have you noticed that your baby is not looking at you directly? Your baby has a tendency to stare blankly into the distance if he is tired.

Aside from blank stares, an overtired baby may also show:

  • Difficulty in maintaining eye contact
  • Closing of eyes when you’re trying to interact

Body Stiffness

Your baby might clench his fists to indicate his tiredness. He may also have tense body movements from his hands and legs.


Latching Difficulty

A baby that seems to show difficulty in latching or cries at your breast, may be exhibiting signs of overtiredness.

Did you know: In older babies, the act of throwing anything in their hands, such as food and toys, is one sign of overtiredness.


Self-soothing Acts

Does your baby suck his own thumb? Or is he rooting for a pacifier? These are common responses if you happen to ignore the signs that your baby is already sleepy. They resort to self-soothing actions to comfort themselves when they are already tired.


Lack of Interest

Instead of being playful and alert to people, a tired baby can start to lose interest in their surroundings. This includes rejecting their favorite food or toy.


Clingy Behaviour

Surprised that your baby is suddenly clingier than normal? This is another sign your baby yearns for sleep. It can be displayed in different ways depending on each individual baby. For instance, your baby might cry and beg for you to hold them.

Did you know: Parents aren’t the only one who has to deal with separation anxiety, babies have them too. And when it comes to this, babies often ignore their dads and cling more to their mums.


Autonomic Signals

These refer to signals that become apparent without your baby’s conscious control. Examples include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Sweaty palms
  3. Quick breathe
  4. Hiccups
  5. Blueness around the mouth in infants


You might interpret this as a sign that your baby is ready to play. However, it can also tell that your baby is having sleep difficulties. A baby will become physically active as the awake period wears on.

Awake time guidelines:

  1. Newborn (0-2 months old) = 45 minutes to 1 hour
  2. 6 months old = 2 hours
  3. Toddler (12-36 months old) = 4 to 5 hours

Whimpers and Cries

Babies will begin to fuss, whimper, and even cry when they are already tired. Babies resort to these acts to communicate what they need and want.

Every baby is unique and so are the signs that indicate he is overtired. As parents, you’d want to make sure that you’re reading your baby’s signals correctly. This way, you will be able to address specific needs and give them quality sleep.

Need help in getting your overtired baby to sleep? Nurture Parenting offers baby sleep help for parents who are having trouble with their newborns. Learn more by contacting us today.

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