Your Baby

How to Soothe Your Overtired Baby

Jennifer Taylor

When your baby becomes overtired, it can be quite the difficult experience for both your child and you as a parent. An overtired baby is a cranky baby, and you might find it frustrating.

Some babies need more sleep than others, so its very possible that yours needs a little more sleep than another baby. If you find that your baby is overtired, there are a few things you can do to help calm and sooth them.

Why Babies Become Overtired

Prevention is the best medicine, and knowing how and why your baby is overtired is the first step. There are several different reasons why your baby might be overtired:

1. Being Overstimulated

As an adult, you naturally avoid stimulation that bothers you: lights that are too bright, sounds that are too loud, and things like that. Those things can make it hard to sleep. Babies are unable to avoid these things, and on top of that their nervous systems are more sensitive to these things. If a child is overstimulated, it can be almost impossible for them to be able to fall asleep.

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Be conscious of this, and keep your baby in a calm, quiet environment when its about time for sleep. It might make a big difference!

2. Parents Not Picking Up on Signs They’re Tired

It might take some time before you understand the cues that your child is tired. If a baby is sleepy, it doesn’t mean they’ll fall asleep on their own; they’ll usually show signs that they’re tired but not necessarily fall asleep. It’s your job to learn the signs that your baby shows when he or she is tired so that you can put them in their crib or bassinet for a sleep.

3. Sleep is Interrupted (Especially by Parents!)

When your child is born, it’s only natural that you’ll want to spend as much time with them as possible, checking on them and holding them. However, some parents go overboard on this, tending to interrupt their baby’s sleep – not a good thing!

Calming Your Overtired Baby: Things to Try

First of all, it’s obviously best to avoid your baby getting overtired in the first place. However, if it does happen, it’s not the end of the world. There are a few things you can try that will help sooth your overtired baby, including the following.

  • Swaddling — Wrapping your baby tightly, but comfortably, in a blanket can help not only calm them, but keep them from moving about and waking up when they are asleep.
  • Massaging — A soft massage with some baby lotion can do wonders for an overtired baby.
  • Baby sling — Putting your overtired baby in a baby sling and walking around with her might just be what she needs to help her fall asleep. This helps in two ways: babies feel most comfortable and secure when they’re with their parents, and the motion of walking around can be soothing, too.
  • Baby swing — A baby swing is another item that might help your baby relax and fall asleep. A good and comfortable swing provides a soothing rocking motion that can help send them to sleep.
  • Soothing music — Some soothing music or sounds effects can help your cranky baby fall asleep.
  • Ride in their car seat — This is one that I don’t see mentioned often. If you have a comfortable car seat, you might be surprised at how quickly your baby will fall asleep in it. It might take just a short 5-minute drive to send your baby to dreamland. Of course, you’ll need a car seat that is removable without waking your baby up.

Some Final Advice

It’s important not to get frustrated and to be patient. Every baby is different, and yours might take a completely different strategy to help fall asleep when they’re overtired and cranky.

You’ll have to experiment and see which methods work best for your child, as well as working to avoid them getting overtired in the first place. If you do so, I’m sure you’ll find that it’s much easier than you thought.

(photo credit: Tom Simpson

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