How To Get An Overtired Baby to Sleep (11 Tips)

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It is now one o’ clock in the morning and you are supposed to be asleep. You are tired from work and you want to sleep already but here you are, still wide awake, holding your baby. You know he is overtired, and so are you, but you do not know how to put him to sleep, so you are wondering HOW.

How do you get an overtired baby to sleep? You may start with settling or calming down your baby. When he calms down, you may help him get to a drowsy state and then, you may begin putting him to sleep. There are actually many things that you could do to put your overtired baby to sleep, depending on the reason for his tiredness, so it is important to know the reason why he is overtired.

There is no single way to put an overtired baby to sleep because being overtired comes in different reasons. Here are some things that you need to know when your baby is overtired.

How do you know when a baby is overtired?

Knowing when your baby is overtired and distinguishing the cause (or causes) of his tiredness are crucial in identifying the proper interventions that you need to do. Here are some of the signs that your baby is overtired:

Crying. This is your baby’s most basic way of saying that he is already overtired. Sometimes, he would just cry really, reaaaaally loud and feeding him won’t suffice.

Fussing and whimpering. When your baby starts to fuss and eventually whimpers, start to settle your baby as it may lead to crying and throwing of tantrums when not attended to immediately.

Yawning, hiccuping and sneezing. One clear indication that your baby is overtired is when your baby starts to yawn, hiccup, and sneeze.

Rubbing of eyes or face. When your baby is overtired, you may notice that he rubs his eyes or face more frequently than usual. You may also notice that his eyes become reddish and teary because of sleepiness and struggle to go to sleep.

Thumb sucking. When your baby feels overtired, he verily wants to sleep that they would even help himself to fall asleep and rest through sucking his thumb.

Staring. One indication that your baby is overtired is when he refuses to look at you and prefers to stare at other directions. He may also seem to be more fidgety.

Throwing tantrums. Not getting proper sleep may lead to your baby’s tantrums. When this happens, he will start to throw everything that his hand can get. He will also start to cry aloud.

Getting clingy. Your overtired baby cannot say what he wants verbally so he resorts to telling you how he feels through his actions. When your baby becomes so clingy, that could be an indication that he is already tired and he needs to rest or sleep.

Mother and baby sleeping

How do I get my baby to stop fighting to sleep?

This is a common question among mommies who are in the middle of settling their overtired babies. Here are some things that you may do when your baby is overtired:

1. Hold your baby

This is the easiest way to calm and comfort your baby when he is tired. Holding him sends a sense of comfort so he begins to settle. If he still refuses to sleep even after holding, try to sing a lullaby while gently rocking him. This will help put your baby to sleep.

2. Swaddle your baby

Swaddling may help soothe your baby.  However, remember to always be careful when swaddling your baby. Being swaddled limits the movements of your baby so check him from time to time and see to it that he doesn’t roll.

3. Slightly rock your baby

Slightly rocking your baby in your arms calms your overtired baby. Be careful not to rock your baby strongly, though. You surely don’t want to compromise his emotional and brain development.

4. Sing lullabies

Your baby feels comfortable when you sing him a lullaby. This helps settle him and get him to sleep. But if you are not comfortable with your voice (not all moms are singers, I know), you may download or purchase lullabies for babies. I would recommend Mozart music for its rhythmic melody that seems to be very familiar to your baby’s ears.

5. Hush your baby

Taking your baby into your arms and hushing him will help calm him. Your hushing is also similar to the sound that he used to hear when he was still unborn so it could also put him to sleep. It also gives him an emphatic message from you so he would get comfortable.

6. Play white noise

White noise is a sound that mimics the sound of your womb. This is because when your baby was still in your womb, he barely heard the sounds outside and what he could only hear was similar to the sound of whooshing of wind or a vacuum. When your baby refuses to sleep, playing white noise is a great way to settle him. The familiarity of the sound settles him and he may also have a longer sleep.

7. Check if your baby’s diaper leaked

When your baby’s diaper is wet, your baby finds difficulty to sleep because of discomfort. And this discomfort could overtire him. But once the discomfort is gone, you will easily get your baby to sleep. However, if you think that his diaper doesn’t need to be changed, don’t change his diaper as this may lead to greater discomfort.

8. Give your baby a bath.

Giving your baby a warm bath when he is overtired will help soothe his body. The relaxation that he could get from a warm bath is a big help in getting him to sleep.

Giving your little one a warm bath even when he is not overtired is also a good way of giving him a comfortable and longer sleep.

9. Put your baby’s room to dim light.

Too much light may distract your baby and keep him awake. On the other hand, having a dim-lighted room helps set his mind and body to sleep.

You may turn off every light in the house except the dim light that will be used for your baby.

10. Feed your baby.

One reason why your baby is still awake despite being overtired is because of the discomfort brought by his underfed tummy. You might think that he had already enough food but his tummy could counter you by saying, “Feed me more, Mom. I’m still hungry!”

I have had plenty of experiences with my son in this matter and I have noticed that when this is the reason of his overtiredness, he would easily have a deep slumber once he gets fed with a bottle of milk. However, be careful not to overfeed your baby because overfeeding him would lead to a long night.

11. Improve his sleeping pattern.

Babies need a definite sleeping pattern and most often, they naturally have it. But if you observe that your baby’s current sleeping pattern overtires him, it’s time to change his sleeping habit. Let’s say, you observed that getting him to sleep at eight o’ clock brings him discomfort, check whether he needs to sleep earlier or later.

A repetitive course of sleep will help your baby’s body clock to have a routine of when exactly he would sleep or wake up. This will help you in avoiding to overtire him.

How do I prevent getting my baby overtired?

The best way to prevent your baby from getting overtired is putting him to sleep before he even gets tired. You may be busy, you may have a lot more things to do, but getting your baby to sleep properly is a responsibility you couldn’t miss.

Failure to put your baby to sleep in the right time will cause him to be overtired and have difficulty in sleeping. So it will be better to consider what your baby needs and prioritize his sleep.

Related Questions

Why do babies fight going to sleep?

Most babies fight going to sleep despite being overtired. This is an ironic scenario but needs to resolve because we want to have a more comfortable sleep. Here are some reasons why your baby fights going to sleep:

Too much noise. Your little one used to be in this liquid sac and heard nothing but noise. The sound he used to hear was like that of vacuum or whooshing of wind. Basically, when he got outside your womb, he would need to hear noises, this is why it is okay for him to hear white noise like the sound of a fan or the sound of nature. However, as he aged, there would come a time that he will need silence because too much noise overwhelms him.

Your baby is overfed. Have you already tried being so full at night? You find it difficult to sleep, right? It’s because your digestion is slower at night which means your stomach needs a longer time to digest what you have eaten for supper. This could cause intestinal discomfort which deprives you of proper sleep.

The same goes with your baby, sometimes his gastrointestinal tract gets disturbed by overfeeding because while underfed babies sometimes tend to sleep easily, the overfed baby tends to stay awake until their intake is digested enough for them to sleep. This is why you need to feed your baby with only enough amount he needs for the night.

Will overtired baby eventually sleep?

An overtired baby may have difficulty getting asleep but he will definitely sleep eventually. However, there are drawbacks for letting your baby to be constantly overtired.

For instance, your baby loses his appetite when he is overtired, this also means that he will be fed lesser compared to average feeding. He also has the tendency to be hyperactive and sleep shorter than the average sleep of her age.

It is also observable that babies who are always tired cry more often. This is why although your overtired baby will eventually sleep, it is important that the occurrence of his tiredness will be extremely minimized.

What is the normal sleep pattern for my baby?

One way to avoid getting your baby overtired is knowing his normal sleep pattern. A newborn should normally stay awake for not more than 45 minutes. So he should sleep from time to time.

At six months, it is expected that he stays awake for a longer period of time, thus sleeping longer as well. He can now handle two hours or so of staying awake. Once your baby becomes a toddler, he can already stay awake for five minutes or so.

Why does my baby cry so loud when he is overtired?

Unlike adults like us, your baby cannot talk yet so he could not directly tell you how he feels so the only way to tell you that he is tired is through crying aloud. It’s like giving you a signal that he needs to sleep but couldn’t.

Being sleep-deprived also brings him so much discomfort and again, because he cannot talk, he would communicate himself through crying.

Hearing your baby cry may drain your patience but it pays to adjust yourself for the sake of your bundle of joy.

Whether we realize it or not, sleep plays a crucial in the growth and development of our baby so it is proper and fitting that we look carefully after their sleeping pattern and habit. Let alone our joy when we see our little slumber deeply and peacefully– that moment when all your tiredness from a day’s work is exchanged by an unexplainable smile.

Anyway, letting your baby have a good sleep will not only take your baby away from getting overtired but will also give you the tranquility of the night.


Hi there, I am Monica mother of one and this is my blog. I share some useful tips about pregnancy and specially parenting. xoxo

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