Preventing Overtiredness

If there is anything worse than a cranky child… It is a cranky AND overtired child. Just like us, children have a natural rhythm when it comes to sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up and running during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Your body relies on many factors to know when to secrete which, and timing is a huge factor.

So what happens when their body goes through the transition of hormones and gives those sleep cues, but your child stays awake? Well, their body assumes that there was a reason they did not go to sleep and there is a need to stay awake, so their daytime hormones fire up again. And this is when the chaos happens.

Once those daytime hormones fire up again, boy are they hard to turn off. Less sleep means more daytime hormones, which is like a black hole of chaos. The BEST thing we can do as parents is to get Baby to sleep before the window of sleep hormones ends. But babies, especially newborns, can sometimes have a hard time showing the window of opportunity. Knowing what to look for is important!

Unfortunately those signs are sometimes mistaken for being hungry, so also keeping an eye on the clock will help. Newborns can usually handle less than an hour of awake time before they are ready for another nap, so keeping a mental note (or write it down if that will help!) of when they woke up can help you determine if those signs are telling you they are ready for another nap. I know that sometimes it seems like just enough time to get everything needed in, but take advantage of those naps while you can for yourself!

As they get older, their wake times will increase. Refer to this sleep reference guide to help you figure out how long your wake times should be based on your child’s age. Always error on the side of more sleep than less when you are determining when is a good time for another nap. See my full month-by-month Wake Times Chart.

Once your little one is a toddler, they have their own little habits when they become overtired. The sudden change to daytime hormones can actually make them manic, which means giggly and really happy for a while. Doesn’t really seem like they need a nap anymore? It is like the calm before the storm. Just wait for it, their mood will transition to the ultimate crankiness and you’ll have the case of bedtime battles on your hands.

I promise you, no client of mine has come back saying their child is getting too much sleep when they implement a schedule like above. Just give it a couple of weeks and you should see the overtiredness battles disappear and a happier baby.

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