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Overtired baby sleeps in his father's arms.

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How to fix overtired newborn?

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Whether you have only one baby or multiple, there are many things to navigate, like learning and maintaining feeding schedules and sleep routines.

When your little one’s sleep becomes impacted, it can create some unwanted side effects including difficulty processing and regulating emotions, developmental challenges, and increased sleep problems.

Determining how to break the cycle of an overtired baby can seem impossible, but Polysleep is here to help!

Studio shot of a tired newborn baby sleeping.

Signs of an overtired newborn

All babies produce a variety of tell-tale signs alerting parents that they are becoming sleepy. Ignoring these sleep cues increases the risk of your baby becoming overtired, making naptime or bedtime seemingly impossible. 

So, what cues should you look for?

  • Increased yawning
  • Excessive touching of the face and/or rubbing eyes
  • Increased fussiness or becoming clingier to caregivers
  • Decreased interest in playtime
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty calming down or relaxing at bedtime

How can I prevent my newborn from becoming overtired?

To understand why you have an overtired newborn, you must first understand how much sleep your baby needs. A combination of sleep hours at night and naps should equate to:

  • Newborns: Birth to 3 months of age needs approximately 14 to 17 hours of sleep.
  • Infants: From 4 months to 11 months of age should receive an estimated 12 to 15 hours of sleep.
  • Toddlers: 1 year to 2-year-olds need between 11 to 14 hours of sleep.
  • Pre-schoolers: 3 years to 5 years should sleep between 10 to 13 hours each day.

An overtired newborn, infant, or toddler can make the day seem to drag on. Because of this, understanding and preventing overtiredness is crucial. The best way to prevent your baby from being overtired is to do a few things each day to stop this condition before it begins.

Consistency is key in helping your baby sleep appropriately. Maintaining a set routine such as initiating bathtime, reading a book, and placing your baby in their crib or bassinet at the same time each night will help your newborn regulate their sleep and recognize sleep vs wake time.

As mentioned above, when your baby becomes tired, they will show small signs. You mustn't ignore these cues and delay bedtime or naps as this will inevitably lead to the overtiredness of your baby.

Many parents fall victim to playing with their baby close to bedtime but do not realize the effects this can have on their baby falling asleep. It is best to avoid overstimulation through loud noises, rigorous play, or television 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime to help your baby wind down.

Close-up of a sleeping baby girl wrapped in a purple blanket.

How to get an overtired baby to sleep at night

You would think a sleepy baby would be easy to get to bed, but an overtired newborn experience more difficulty falling asleep than usual.

If your baby is experiencing this, how can you break the cycle of an overtired baby and get them to fall asleep?

Each stage of your baby’s development as they grow relies on crucial hours of sleep.

Understanding and recognizing your child's sleep patterns, as well as maintaining a consistent schedule will help your little one regulate their sleep easily.

If your baby is experiencing difficulty falling asleep, offer love and support to help them soothe rather than implement sleep training methods like the cry it out method. This will only create more distress for your baby, making it harder to sleep.

Close-up of a sleeping baby in his mother's arms.

Try the following tips to help your baby fall asleep:

  • Swaddle. During pregnancy, your baby is continually cradled inside the womb. Because of this, a big, empty crib or bassinet can seem terrifying to them. When age-appropriate, using a swaddle can help soothe and comfort your baby to help them sleep at night.
  • Reposition your baby. If your baby is not calming down in their crib, pick them up and place them on your chest with direct skin-to-skin contact in a position in which they are comfortable. This allows your baby to feel the warmth of your skin and listen to the soothing sound of your heartbeat that they became so fond of during pregnancy.
  • Try different movements. Each baby is different in terms of what soothes them. Try various movements including swinging, rocking, or bouncing your baby to help them to relax.
  • Change mattresses. A memory foam crib mattress provides exceptional support and comfort for your baby night after night without compromising safety.

How to break the cycle of an overtired newborn

A lack of sleep, whether it be due to insufficient sleep quality or length, can lead to health and developmental problems. Breaking the cycle of your baby becoming overtired can be difficult, but it is not impossible.

To start, do not allow your baby to be awake past the age-appropriate wake window. Newborns up to 12 weeks should not be awake longer than 90 minutes at a time. As your baby grows, this time will increase slowly until your little one can be awake for several hours without negative consequences.

Avoid sleep training during periods of overtiredness. Sleep training methods like the cry it out method can create more stress and anxiety for both you and your baby. The increased anxiety reduces your baby’s ability to fall asleep and can impact the quality of sleep they can obtain as well. Provide ample love, support, and comfort to your baby during times of discomfort and changes in sleep to help them cope.

Tired baby sleeping warm wrapped in a blanket

Providing a comfortable, safe sleep space can help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep during naps and overnight. A memory foam crib mattress from Polysleep utilizes an open-cell memory foam allowing adequate airflow, support, and comfort.

Takeaway

During infancy, your baby will go through various leaps and growth spurts that can affect sleep patterns. During these times and other times of sleep difficulty, you should try to maintain your baby’s schedule as best as you can. Provide love and support to help them through these difficult times as they do not understand what is happening.

If you are concerned with your child’s development, health, or sleep habits, consult your pediatrician for a professional opinion.

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