How to prevent a baby from becoming overtired?



If you’re a parent, it’s no doubt a word you’ve come to fear! An overtired baby is one who is too tired to sleep, and who will fuss and cry. And then, when sleep finally does come, an overtired baby will likely wake too soon, and have a hard time falling back to sleep.

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

That’s why it’s so important to understand what overtiredness is, to recognize the signs of it, and to be proactive about preventing your baby from becoming overtired.

When your baby is overtired, it simply means that her body is past the point of being ready to sleep. When your baby is overtired, she is so physically fatigued that her body’s stress-response system is activated. Once your baby is overtired, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline flood your baby’s bloodstream, making it even harder for your baby to relax and calm down. And this tends to be a cyclical pattern; the more overtired your baby becomes, the harder it is for your baby to relax and fall asleep, which makes overtiredness even worse.

Even better than dealing with overtiredness when it crops up is preventing your baby from becoming overtired in the first place.

Simply put, you prevent overtiredness by laying your baby down for sleep slightly before her window of awake time closes.

Use the following as guidelines:

  • A newborn can handle no more than 45 minutes to an hour of awake time.
  • A 6 month old can handle about 2 hours of awake time.
  • A toddler can handle 4-5 hours of awake time.

Basically, you ward off overtiredness when you watch your baby’s sleep and feeding schedule carefully, and make sure that naps and feedings are happening at the right times so as to ensure your baby or toddler doesn’t stay awake too long.

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