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Time to sleep… your baby’s tired signs

Time to sleep… your baby’s tired signs

While babies cannot talk, when it comes to their most important requirements – the need for food, comfort and lots of sleep – they can communicate very clearly!

Ask any parent and they will tell you their new baby was soon able to tell them what they needed and when! Even the very youngest of babies can communicate when they are tired and need to sleep. And, no, it’s not necessarily through crying.

Most babies give quite clear signs and signals that they are tired. For new parents, recognising your baby’s tired signs is an important skill that will help you get your baby off to sleep with little fussiness.

Common signs young babies are tired include:

  • Changing facial expressions – relaxed to grimacing
  • Frowning and looking unhappy
  • Looking away from you or staring into space
  • Rigid, Jerky or tense arm, hand and leg movements
  • Fists clenched
  • Rubbing eyes and ears
  • Yawning
  • Crying, fussing, being unsettled – this is a late cue!

Sometimes too late…

Early tired signs may be subtle and easy to miss. Certainly not as obvious as being completed unsettled, fussing or crying, crying, crying! Watching your baby and understanding their tired signs will help you know when it is best (and easiest) to put them to bed.

For babies, being tired and needing sleep is not just about the length of time they have been awake, so the signals that your baby gives you are a helpful and reliable cue that sleep is near! Observe your baby, trust your own knowledge and read the signs your baby is giving you.

When your baby shows some, or all, of the tired signs listed, it is sleep time! Some babies settle best when put to sleep at the first sign of being tired (such as staring into space) while others will need to be a little more tired before they are ready for bedtime. Trust yourself that you will learn and know your baby’s tired signs best.

Both you and your baby will be pleased that when they have ‘spoken’ about their tiredness, you have listened!


13 Member comments Post a reply

Avatar Ashikipaka

I am trying to establish a daytime sleep routine for my baby who is 12 weeks old, ever since she was born she has fought going to sleep during the day. When she realises she is going to sleep she starts wriggling and crying determined to stay awake.
I am careful looking for tired signs and mindful of how long she has been awake but it could still take me an hour to get her to sleep where she then only sleeps for 20 minutes, maybe 40 minutes if I am lucky.
She doesnt have reflux or anything and sleeps through the night ok with 1 or 2 wakes for a feed.
Any tips would be useful....


Posted 26 January 2011 - 06:19 AM

Avatar subzero

how long is she up before you put her back again??? they should be up for an hour then back to bed again..... that is including fed, nappy kick and cuddles....

I am a firm believer in whatever works. I also have rocked the bassinet and the pram and when he wakes i re rock the him again until he goes back to sleep. also now he goes down in the cot quite happily on his own.

Posted 26 January 2011 - 06:53 AM

Avatar VinDieselIsHot

My daughter was like that too.
Since the day she was born she would not sleep for more than 30 mins during the day. BUt at night she was perfect.
She's much better now, thank god. Ive got her into a sleeping routine. which ive started about a month now?

Posted 28 January 2011 - 09:35 AM

Avatar skrukerink

practise, practise, practise! smile
Listen to their cries - are they distressed or just grizzling? Some mothers dash in at the first noise but give them a chance to settle themselves, this may take 10-15mins.
A baby's sleep cycle is approx 45min, so they most likely will wake after this and then settle again if they know how.
My baby is 3months old and at the age of 5weeks hes was becoming unsettled. He would wake after an hour, when he would usually sleep for 2. My rule is check on them after 5mins of crying: wind them, check nappy and put them down. If they cry again check after 7-8mins, then again after 10 mins if they are still unsettled. Keep an eye on the clock - 5mins can seem like a long time! smile Usually if my son is having a fussy day he will settle after I have seen him once or maybe twice. If you know they have a full tummy and clean nappy then they are fine. It may take a couple of days before your baby learns this. Once your baby is sleeping better during the day you will probably find that they will also sleep better at night. Keep in mind that you're baby's sleep needs will also change as they get older,for instance my son now only sleeps for 1hour after 4pm not 2. I came to this conclusion after 3 days of not settling again smile
one last note: offer some water if its a hot day(especially if on formula)

Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:19 PM

Avatar Babyniketa

my baby is 15 weeks old she will go to sleep easy as during the day but when it comes to night time she will only sleep if im holding her or if shes in my bed she wont sleep in her bed as soon as i put her down she will just start crying till someone picks her up i dont know what to do

plzzz if you got n.e tips

frm sleepness nights

Posted 31 May 2011 - 09:43 AM

Avatar Nicolet2008

Hello my name is Nicole, and i have a 21 mth old who just wont sleep thru the night and it is driving me nuts. Also i cant afford daycare so i dont get anytime to me, as my own mother wont look after him if i need a break. My partner which is my childs stepdad is the best he helps out as much as he can but with work its a bit hard atm. I am getting to the point where i am starting to just get annoyed with him which i dont want to happen as i love him so much. Any solutions out there would grately appreciated?

Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:16 PM

Avatar Cheshiresmile

how long is she up before you put her back again??? they should be up for an hour then back to bed again..... that is including fed, nappy kick and cuddles....

I am a firm believer in whatever works. I also have rocked the bassinet and the pram and when he wakes i re rock the him again until he goes back to sleep. also now he goes down in the cot quite happily on his own.

My general rule is an hour and a half during the day. It has been since 7 weeks. She wakes up, I get her up and give her a bottle, then we play, then she sits in her bouncer and plays with a dangling toy (well sort of plays, she's just starting to reach out for things and they go straight in her mouth, haha) to unwind a little bit after the stimulation of tummy time and general play. Sometimes, usually for her first sleep of the day, she'll go back to sleep after an hour. Sometimes, before her lunch/early afternoon sleep she wants to stay up a little bit longer. She is a VERY alert baby though, wants to be included and involved in everything.

Yawning (after she has been up a while, not straight away) is a good sign that she is getting tired. Rubbing eyes or pulling ears are both over tired signs and that's when I put her straight off to bed, slowly though or she gets grumpy. If I leave it even 5 minutes after she starts rubbing her eyes she can be a royal pain in the ass to settle! Occasionally she does get tired quickly and I don't realise so I'll give her the dummy while she's sitting in the bouncer and she'll go straight off to sleep. At that point I'll always put her to bed rather than letting her sleep in the bouncer because I know she'll only ever sleep one cycle in the bouncer, even on a good day. She has also been known to take a nap on the play mat. This is fine if she hasn't been up very long and I want to do something in another room. Gives me enough time to get little things done, when she stirs she'll usually want to stay up a little bit longer before going off to bed.

I am simply amazed at how much better she sleeps in her cot though. I put her down in the cot for a sleep yesterday afternoon (she's been in a bassinet since birth) and she slept 3 hours in the late afternoon then 10.5 hours last night! Normally she'd wake around 1:30am for a bottle. What a nice feeling to wake up at 6:30am after the first full 8 hour, undisturbed sleep I've had in more than 3 months and be able to get up and have breakfast before she's even awake! grin

Posted 20 August 2011 - 09:43 AM

Avatar JH4A65

My son was 4 before he slept through the night! Until then the longest he had EVER slept was 4 hours - and that was rare. We went to doctors, nurses, sleep school, even a naturopath. The best medical advice I could get was "some kids just don't need much sleep". I learned how to survive on minimal sleep and I learned how to enjoy our night time together. One night earlier this year he just slept right through with no warning. He has been a pretty good sleeper since sleeping right through 4 or 5 nights a week.
I got to enjoy this for about 2 months until I had my next son. Now 2 weeks old. Only time will tell if he's a good sleeper......
My point (for those of you suffering from lack of sleep) is that it does eventually get better and it is possible to survive it.

Posted 12 September 2011 - 01:18 AM

Avatar Kaylablake

my 2yr old daughter get tired at night but every time put her bed she fight can any help me please

Posted 06 October 2011 - 09:50 AM

Avatar Elle plus 3

i dont beleive in tired signals, as when you do pick them up its proberly to late. i have tired it on my two older children and it didnt work. their are some great sleep programs out there that you can get from you health nurse.

i know that from the age of 4 months, once baby has doubled his/her birth weight they no longer need nourishment during the night. I do know of babies that are still feeding once a night till 7 or so months, but their mothers are happy to do this. i found with my 6 month old when he got to 7 weeks he started fighting sleep so i researched alot, and i mean ALOT, of sights, the health nurse, sleep school etc, and found from a great friend Tizzie Halls "save our sleep" book.

it has worked wonders and now i have day and night routine, and i havent looked back!!

my second youngest was a horrible, and i mean HORRIBLE sleeper all the way to age3!!!, he wouldnt sleep more then an 1hour at night and me and hubby were at our wits ends. so you dont have to wait like i did to do something about the endless nights. every parent deserves sleep.

in my house the saying goes "happy Mummy, happy family" smile

hang in there smile

Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:43 PM

Avatar ally_cat

how long is she up before you put her back again??? they should be up for an hour then back to bed again..... that is including fed, nappy kick and cuddles....

I am a firm believer in whatever works. I also have rocked the bassinet and the pram and when he wakes i re rock the him again until he goes back to sleep. also now he goes down in the cot quite happily on his own.

oh geez!! lol. im in trouble then.. lol my 5 week old will be up for 2 hours at a time.
he will feed for up to an hour each side. (trying to cut that down) then will not sleep. i try rocking him and stuff but he likes to have some time awake.
he slps between 5and 7hours at night. usually goes down for the night at about 9 and wakes about 3 or 4 for a feed then bak down about 5 and wakes around 8.
he goes to sleep ok at night. usually have to rock him for 10mins.
but during the day he wont sleep for more than 45mins.

Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:36 PM

Avatar Babybluey25

My 7week old wont sleep during the day but sleeps well at night, is it a bad thing that my baby wont sleep during the day... He will sleep on me but as soon as i put him down he wakes up! Any advice would be great help!!!

Posted 11 September 2014 - 01:00 PM

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 06:23 AM

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