Sleeping is important for mental and physical health. Yet, many babies struggle to sleep, and parents often worry about how exhausted their baby is. Are they going to be okay? Will they eventually sleep? These questions can be difficult to answer.
Luckily, there are some easy tips that many parents have found to work well for them. From setting a routine and using the right tools, to making sure your baby doesn’t get overtired, here are six tips that have been scientifically proven to work!
What is overtired?
Many parents may not be aware that the term “over tired” is inaccurate. All of us are on a journey to becoming a sleep expert — it’s a difficult job, but it’s one we all want to master. Sometimes, we don’t listen to our body, or we are not in tune with how tired we are.
Many parents struggle to get their baby to sleep through the night, and start wondering if it’s their fault that their baby is tired. Of course, this isn’t true. Experts do say that taking care of a new baby and doing everything you can to make sure they get enough sleep will make a big difference.
If you feel like your baby is overtired, take a look at these tips that have been scientifically proven to work.
How to recognize signs of overtiredness
If your baby isn’t getting enough sleep, or is overtired, they might experience irritability, short-term memory loss, increased crying, difficulty calming down, or excessive sleepiness. This can make them seem uncomfortable, not well-rested, and can become a health concern.
So, here are some tips to watch out for: Thick, watery stools The body will try to adjust to keep your baby hydrated if they’re not drinking enough, as they don’t have as much muscle mass to keep their stomach full.
For example, if your baby has been sleeping for three hours, and then wakes up, they might have a hard time getting back to sleep. Watch out for loose stools or blood in their stool, especially if your baby is formula fed, or has colic. This is common and not a cause for concern.
Tips for tired babies
First and foremost, your baby needs sleep. Being overtired can make a baby fussy, fussy, fussy. It’s important to put on a happy face for them when they are overtired, because they really need it to keep their mental state stable.
Also, infants who have too much time awake during the night should try to move to the crib or bassinet so they can nap. In addition, babies who are too overtired tend to resist sleep even harder when it is time to sleep.
If a baby has too much time awake, he or she might cry and be easily frustrated, which can keep them awake longer. Your baby may also not have the ability to understand when to sleep. Basically, they may get overtired and not be able to sleep at all. If that happens, they will need some kind of way to cope.
Establish a routine
Research has found that babies that are allowed to put themselves to sleep are more likely to develop a routine and bedtime is not as unpredictable as it might be. The body becomes familiar with this routine and, once it is established, it is easier to fall asleep and wake up.
It’s also important to avoid using white noise to help them fall asleep because they actually experience white noise as part of their routine. The way in which the environment sounds affects the way the brain detects the signals from the body’s neurons, leading to the feeling of sleepiness.
Instead, allow them to detect the soft noise that is coming from their sleep-inducing devices such as white noise machines. Use this white noise to put them to sleep and, while they’re asleep, turn it off!
Use the right tools
Making sure your baby is doing well can help a lot in the long run. Taking the time to think about the tools that you already have is a great place to start. Make sure your baby has a comfortable environment where they can sleep soundly (like a cool crib, or soft comforter), and make sure they’re being well taken care of.
Naps will be shorter if your baby isn’t getting enough food. You can make sure they get enough sleep and development through car rides, walks, or diaper changes. Dr. Sears suggests using a snooze alarm, which can help your baby catch a nap when it works best for them.
Learn your baby’s cues Babies have a knack for knowing when they’re tired. Look for cues like yawning and bright red cheeks, or when they try to climb up your leg.
Understand how much sleep babies need
Everyone’s sleep needs are different. For newborns, their needs tend to be much smaller, as they’re getting used to the world around them. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most babies need between 14 and 17 hours of sleep during the first few months of life, and generally need about 15 to 17 hours at night.
During the first six months, infants also need about three naps a day, or about 2 hours and 15 minutes total. When do babies need naps? While babies tend to prefer sleeping alone in their cribs, you might still find that your baby seems tired after sleeping alone for an hour or two. After that, it’s time to start a sleep routine.
Finding the Right Tools and Products to Help
If you’re going to worry about what your baby needs and how to get your little one to sleep, you want to be prepared. Here are some great items to consider for your baby’s crib or bassinet. Some babies may want a darker bedding to help them get to sleep faster.
However, if they have a sibling or don’t like being too hot, consider a simple, patterned bumper or knit blanket to keep baby warm and cozy. Soothing sound is also helpful, especially at first. While not always proven to work, a warm white noise machine may help babies drift off.
Have you heard of the Pomodoros at Bed Bath & Beyond? They provide real-time ambient noise playlists that fade in and out. There are also some great lullaby CD’s and apps for baby that lull them to sleep.
Making Sure Your Baby Isn’t Overtired
Sleep can be affected by how you’re feeling too. If you’re overtired, you can’t sleep, and it’s very difficult to respond appropriately when your baby’s crying. Research suggests that a two-month-old baby is more likely to learn to fall asleep on his own if he or she falls asleep when he or she is tired. A baby is also more likely to wake up if he or she is overtired.
Setting a Routine: Setting a routine for your baby will help make sure you don’t have to go back into their room for any of the same reasons as above. Your child should be sleeping through the night from 4 to 7 months.
Avoiding Crying Baby Syndrome: Crying baby syndrome (CBS) is when a baby cries when they’re overtired and not tired enough.
Research shows that a great many strategies can help babies sleep, including: a specific sleeping and feeding schedule, decreasing the amount of time between feedings and adjusting the time frame of naps as needed.
Selecting a crib with a firm mattress that supports the head, like a Rock ‘n Play (you can read more about using this attachment here) wearing your baby more to help them get into a sleep cycle using white noise to help them fall asleep.
Practicing sleep hygiene changing up the bath or bedtime routine every few days If you have questions about your baby’s sleep or need some additional support, please contact your pediatrician.