Having to deal with an overtired baby isn’t an easy job. It could make parenting incredibly challenging and tiring.
It is one of the most common problems faced by first-time parents… in fact, most parents!
Overtiredness means that your baby isn’t getting enough sleep and have kept themselves awake by crying (most common).
Some parents only become aware of the overtired cycle when their baby becomes chronically overtired, and their health and wellbeing are threatened.
This is why it is important to learn the signs of an overtired baby so that you can easily break the cycle while it’s still early.
At the initial stage of an overtired cycle, babies show signs of tiredness and desire to sleep. They’d begin to turn their head away from stimuli, suck on their hands, and get fussy.
Soon, they’ll become hypersensitive, increasingly fussy, and uncomfortable; They’ll begin to rub their eyes, scratch their faces, tug at their clothes, and the worst of all… cry inconsolably either for food or attention.
They’d also jerk awake after every 20 – 30 minutes of sleep, only to wake up feeling more tired the next morning. Rinse and Repeat… Initiate an Endless Loop.
In this blog, we discuss 6 actionable methods for getting an overtired baby to sleep and how to help an overtired baby make up their sleep debt.
How to Break the Cycle of an Overtired Baby and Get Them to Sleep
Before we begin, you should check out The Baby Sleep Method by trained Psychologist Mary-Ann Schuler. It is an awesome way of settling a baby and getting them to sleep!
Method 1: Create a Soothing Environment
Making sure the environment is comfortable can help put your overtired baby to sleep.
You can start by ensuring that all activities leading up to bedtime are soothing and pleasant — Give your baby a relaxing bath, wear him light, comfortable nightwear, give him a nice foot rub, and blow gently on his face.
Draw the curtains to block any bright light from entering and turn off any appliances that might create disturbing sounds that’ll disrupt your baby’s sleep.
Also, remain calm and pleasant even when your baby begins to cry or fuss. Trying to put your overtired baby to sleep when you are upset or in a bad state of mind wouldn’t be a soothing experience for them.
This study shows that babies can sense their parents’ anxiety or stress and send back a corresponding emotion.
So you need to fix your mood and emotions before putting your baby to sleep.
You could also consider using a baby ceiling projector for added comfort and relaxation!
Method 2: Swaddling
Swaddling is an ancient method of wrapping babies up in a light blanket or cloth.
It mimics the same environment as the womb, soothing your baby and helping them feel cozy and safe.
When you swaddle an overtired baby, it keeps them from jolting awake when they move their arms and legs, helping them stay asleep for longer.
Initially, your baby might fight being swaddled, but they’d quickly adjust and begin to enjoy being swaddled.
Note: Please use a light, soft material to wrap your baby, and to avoid discomfort, do not wrap them too tightly.
Method 3: White Noise
White noise is an indistinct background hum. It helps to mask other disturbing sounds that might disrupt your baby’s sleep. It is worth considering using a white noise machine for your baby.
P.S: Silence can also be uncomfortable and spooky for some babies who are trying to fall asleep.
White noise is an invaluable tool to put your overtired baby to sleep; It works because it imitates the sound (environment) a baby is used to hearing in the womb.
You can also play soothing music or a voice recording of yourself to help calm your baby and get them to sleep well and sound.
Method 4: Use a Pacifier
Babies enjoy sucking. It helps to calm them; this is why a pacifier is a great way to get your baby to sleep.
Hold a pacifier to your baby’s mouth, and let them suck on it until they relax and fall asleep.
Pacifiers are a great way to help your overtired baby sleep well. If your baby is jolting awake mid-nap time, a pacifier can help put them back to sleep.
Breaking the addiction can be a challenge though, I gave my son a pair of boxing gloves as a pacifier alternative, and it worked!
Method 5: Hold Your Baby
Holding your baby till they fall asleep might not sound like a convenient idea to you, but if it gives your baby some sleep time, please do it!
Babies enjoy the warmth of their caregivers; Body contact will help your baby feel safe and secure and can help them fall asleep.
You can hold your baby for short naps or to lull them back to sleep if they keep waking up every 30 minutes and struggle to stay asleep.
If you can’t hold your baby for too long, you can make use of a baby wrap to secure him tightly to your body.
Method 6: Movements
You can get your overtired baby to calm down and sleep by rhythmically moving them. Holding your baby close while you rock them or move from side to side is a great way to lull them to sleep.
You can also make use of a swing, stroller rides, or yoga ball to gently rock your baby back and forth till he falls asleep.
You can also lay your baby on her side and gently pat her bum while making cooing sounds till she falls asleep.
As soon as she sleeps, you can gently roll her to her back so she can continue to sleep undisturbed.
Will overtired baby eventually sleep?
Trying to get an overtired baby to fall asleep is stressful, but it is not impossible.
Not only can you get your baby to sleep and break an overtired cycle, but you can also create healthy sleep habits to prevent future occurrences. It will only require time, patience, and consistency.
If you’ve tried all 6 methods listed in this post and are still experiencing problems breaking the cycle of your overtired baby, it might be due to a colic issue, reflux, or immature digestive system.
You can have your doctor test for any sensitivities or underlying health conditions that may be responsible for overtiredness in your baby.
We advise you to be calm and gracious to yourself.
Your baby might just be going through some growth sprouts or developmental stages to become fully accustomed to their new environment, causing them to be overtired.
How to help an overtired baby catch up on sleep?
The best way to make up your baby’s sleep debt and get them energized and back to normal is to use
- Really Early Bedtimes and
- Shorter Wake Time.
You can put your baby to sleep as early as 5 pm. That early? Yes, please. Even as a really early bedtime might be inconvenient for you, consider it a temporary solution to help your overtired baby make up for hours of sleep lost.
Ensure that your baby doesn’t stay awake too long during the day, and put him to sleep once you observe any sleep cues.
Constantly put your baby to sleep within their awake time, this will help them get out of sleep debt, and you’d successfully break the overtired cycle.
Trick: To get your baby to sleep during the day, turn off the lights to trick them into thinking it’s nighttime. Their body would begin to release Melatonin in response to the darkness, and they’d fall asleep.
Also, consider creating a workable early bedtime as a long-term strategy to ensure your baby always gets enough rest.
Before you make long-term adjustments to your baby’s sleep time, track their sleep pattern. Watch them closely to figure out the amount of sleep they get during the day and at night.
This will also help you observe when your baby is about to incur another sleep debt.
Breaking an overtired cycle isn’t a day’s job. It will take patience and consistency. Having a baby overtired and stressed means that you are also overtired and stressed, right?
We can see how hard you are trying (because you found this blog) and how much you love and care for your baby.
You are a superstar!
We hope that this useful resource would help you put your overtired baby to sleep well.