Signs of an Overtired Baby and How to Soothe Them to Sleep

4 min read

Last Modified 11 August 2023 First Added 11 August 2023

Parenthood has it fair share of twists and turns, and of the most common twist is dealing with an overtired baby. If you find yourself in this position, know that you are not alone.  

This post aims to offer support and guidance to parents who are navigating the tricky world of overtired babies.  

We will explore the reasons behind overtiredness, recognise the telltale signs, understand your baby’s needs, and provide you with meaningful tips to soothe your little one to sleep.  

Why do Babies Become Overtired? 

Imagine this, each baby has their own delicate sleep needs, and when they’ve managed to stay awake for longer than they can handle, they start to feel stressed. This is when overtiredness sets in. Understanding this concept is essential to managing your baby’s sleep in the future.  

Signs of an Overtired Baby

Recognising these signs can make a world of difference in soothing them in theses moments. Here are five key signs to look out for: 

  1. Difficult to soothe  
  2. Yawning  
  3. Rubbing Face  
  4. Crying more than normal  
  5. Overactive behaviour  

How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?  

Sleep is vital for your baby’s development, and understanding their age-specific sleep requirements will be massively beneficial. According to research completed by the National Library of Medicine here are their guidelines:  

  • 0 to 3 months: 16 to 17 hours  
  • 4 to 6 months: 14 to 15 hours  
  • 6 to 12 months: 13 to 14 hours  

Wanting to know more about your baby’s development timeline? Have a read of our post ‘Guide to Your Baby’s Developmental Milestones.’ 

Boy yawns on sofa.

How Long Should Your Baby Be Awake?  

According to further research by the National Library of Medicine, awake schedules should be similar to the below:  

  • 0 to 4 months, should be awake for less than 45 to 60 minutes  
  • 4 to 6 months, can be awake for 1 to 2 hours 
  • 6 to 12 months, can be awake for 2 to 3 hours  
  • 12 to 18 months, can be awake for 3 to 4 hours 
  • 18 months to 2 years, can handle an awake time of 4 to 6 hours  

Please note these are just rough estimates for sleeping patterns, each baby can be slightly different.  

Tips for Soothing an Overtired Baby to Sleep:  

When the overtiredness strikes, it’s time to employ some tried-and-true techniques! Here’s a breakdown of tips that will do wonders:  

  1. Go through a bedtime routine: Establishing consistency for a pre-sleep routine can signal to your baby that it is time to wind down and sleep. 
  2. Dim the lights: Create a calming atmosphere that helps your baby in associating darkness with bedtime.  
  3. Feeding is crucial: A full tummy is a great way to soothe your little one, so a gentle feeding session before bedtime can do wonders. 
  4. Swaddling: Wrapping your baby in a swaddle can create a cosy and safe feeling for your little one, replicating the feeling of being in a womb. To learn more about swaddling read our post ‘How to Swaddle Your Baby.’
  5. Gentle movements: Soft rocking or gentle swaying can lull your baby into a peaceful slumber.  
  6. Calming sounds: Soft white noise or soothing lullabies can create a serene environment  
  7. Offer a dummy: Not every parent’s favourite, but a dummy can provide comfort and help your baby relax 
  8. Give them a bath: A warm bath can be a fantastic bedtime ritual to set the stage for a restful night’s sleep 
Parents feed their baby as they all laugh

Breaking the Cycle of Overtiredness  

Prevention is key when dealing with overtiredness.

Here’s how you can avoid falling into this cycle: 

  • Establish a strict schedule and routine, especially for bedtime.  
  • Allow your baby to nap wherever you are to prevent them from staying awake past their capacity to do so.  
  • Learn you baby’s cues and sleep patterns to anticipate their needs.  
  • Utilise sleep aids like soft toys, blackout blinds, sound sensory toys, lullabies, air humidifiers, and rockers or swings. 


Parenting is a wonderful journey filled with moments that brings challenges and others that bring joy. When handling your overtired baby, be sure to remind yourself that this is all a part of the process and you are not alone.  

By recognising signs and implementing soothing techniques, you will be well on your way to creating a peaceful sleeping routine for everyone involved.  

Patience will be your greatest ally here!  

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