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An overtired baby may not be comforted by anything you do, so getting an overtired baby to sleep can be a major challenge.
If your baby often has problems falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor.
For occasional overtiredness, there are several strategies that may help you soothe your baby to sleep.
To prevent your baby from becoming overtired in the future, learn to watch for signs that your baby is sleepy and put your baby to sleep as soon as you notice these signs.
Using Soothing Strategies
Start going through your baby’s normal bedtime routine.
If your baby is used to a specific bedtime routine, then going through the routine may help.
For example, if you usually read your baby a bedtime story at 7:30pm, then do that.
If you normally turn on your baby’s mobile, then do that.
Feed your baby.
Doing your baby’s regular feeding or a short bedtime feeding may also help to soothe your baby to sleep.
Try giving your baby a bottle or breast feeding your baby to see if that helps soothe your baby to sleep.
Unless your baby is still a newborn, avoid feeding your baby too close to bedtime all of the time.
This can cause your baby to link feeding with sleeping, which may make your baby expect to be fed every time he/she wakes up in the night.
Give your baby a bath.
A warm bath is a good addition to a regular bedtime routine for your baby.
It may also help your overtired baby to calm down and relax.
Try giving your overtired baby a warm bath with some soothing lavender scented baby bath.
Then dry him off and put on a fresh diaper and onesie.
Check your baby’s diaper.
If your baby’s diaper is wet or messy, then that may be preventing him/her from getting comfortable for sleep.
Try checking your baby’s diaper and change it if it is messy.
Do not change your baby’s diaper if it does not need to be changed because this may further irritate an overtired baby.
Use soothing speech and singing to soothe your baby.
The sound of your voice is comforting to your baby, so you may be able to use that to your advantage when trying to soothe an overtired baby.
Try doing things like singing, shushing, and speaking softly to your baby to help him/her fall asleep.
Sing to your baby. Sing or hum a lullaby to help soothe your baby to sleep.
Shushing may mimic the sounds of the womb, which may help to comfort your baby.
Try shushing using a heart-beat like rhythm such as “Shu-Shush…Shu-Shush…Shu-Shush.”
Speak softly to your baby.
Talking to your baby in a soft, low voice may help him/her to fall asleep.
Say comforting things to your baby, such as “Mommy loves you” and “Just relax.
It’s time to go to sleep.”
Read a favorite bedtime story. Reading a favorite bedtime story to your baby may also help your baby fall asleep.
Rock your baby.
Rocking your overtired baby in your arms is a good way to soothe him/her and help him/her fall asleep.
You can rock your baby standing up or sitting in a rocking chair.
If you have a glider chair, then sitting in the chair and gliding back and forth with your baby in your arms may help to soothe him/her to sleep.
Make sure that you put your baby to bed before he/she falls asleep in your arms.
It is best to put your baby into bed when he/she is drowsy and calm, but not yet sleeping.
Give your baby a soothing lavender oil massage.
A massage is often a great way to help an overtired baby relax and lavender is known for its soothing scent.
Giving your overtired baby a massage may help your baby relax and fall asleep.
It is also a great way to bond with your baby.
To prepare for a baby massage, measure out about a tablespoon of a carrier oil, such as baby oil or castor oil, and add a drop of lavender essential oil.
Stir the lavender into the carrier oil and then put about a teaspoon into the palm of your hand.
Then, warm up the oil in the palm of your hand and rub the oil on your baby’s back and shoulders.
Use gentle circular strokes to help calm and soothe your baby to sleep.
Creating a Soothing Environment
Dim the lights.
Low lights can help to calm your overtired baby and let her know that it is time to go to sleep.
Your baby’s room does not need to be pitch black, but the lighting should be dim.
Try turning off all of the lights except for a small dim table lamp or night light.
Play some soothing music.
Soothing music can also help to calm your overtired baby and let him/her know that it is time for bed.
Try playing a bit of classical, jazz, or new age music to help your baby calm down for sleep.
Anything that is slow and soft will work.
Nature sounds can also be helpful.
Play your baby some rains sounds or ocean waves crashing on a beach to help him/her fall asleep.
You can also try some white noise, such as a fan.
Adjust the temperature.
An ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
If there is a thermostat in your home, then adjusting it to about 65 degrees may help create a better environment for sleep and make it easier for your overtired baby to fall asleep.
You can also place a room thermometer in your baby’s room and adjust the room temperature by opening a window, turning on a fan, or turning up the heat if it is too cold.
Consider swaddling your baby.
Swaddling can be soothing and may help an overtired baby fall asleep.
Swaddling is the process of wrapping your baby in a blanket so that she is snug and secure.
You will only need to use a lightweight blanket to swaddle your baby.
Lay the blanket down so that it looks like a diamond and fold over the corner that is furthest from you.
Then, lay your baby down on the blanket so that his/her head rests on the folded corner.
Pull up one side of the blanket and place it across your baby’s chest.
Then, fold the bottom of the blanket up and over your baby’s feet.
Tuck the bottom end of the blanket over your baby’s shoulder.
Finally, fold over the remaining side of the blanket over your baby’s chest.
When you are done, the swaddling should be snug, but not tight.
Consider your baby’s sleep needs.
Babies need a lot more sleep than adults do, so it is important to make sure that your baby takes regular naps and goes to bed at the same time every night.
Consider your baby’s sleep needs and try to stick with a regular napping schedule to meet those needs.
Newborns and babies up to three months.
Newborns and babies up to three months old need the most sleep.
They may require as much as 18 hours per day, so plan to put your newborn down for a couple of naps per day.
However, most newborns will eat and sleep on their own schedule, so don’t worry about scheduling naps or feeding times in the first few weeks.
Babies between four and 11 months.
From four to 11 months, your baby will need about eight to 12 hours of sleep per night plus a few naps per day ranging from 30 minutes to two hours long.
Toddlers between the ages of one to two will need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day.
This might mean sleeping for nine hours at night and taking two one hours naps during the day.
Watch for signs or overtiredness.
You may be able to prevent your baby from becoming too tired by knowing what to watch for in the future.
If you notice any of these signs, then it may be time to encourage your baby to take a nap or go to bed.
Some common signs that your baby is tired and needs to sleep include:
- fussing and crying
- sucking his/her thumb
- looking for a pacifier
- clenching fists and waving arms
- arching back
- rubbing his/her eyes
- acting clingy
- throwing tantrums
Put your baby down to sleep before she gets overtired.
As soon as you start to notice that your baby is drowsy, put her down for a nap or to go to sleep at night.
If you wait to put your baby to bed, then she may become overtired and have a hard time falling asleep.
Create a bedtime routine.
Using a bedtime routine may help to soothe your baby and make future bedtimes easier as well.
Try setting up a short (30 minute) bedtime routine that you can repeat at the same time every night.
Some good things to include in a bedtime routine include:
- giving baby a bath
- putting on pajamas
- dimming the lights
- reading a book
- turning on a musical mobile or musical toy
- giving your baby a kiss goodnight
Talk to your doctor if your baby continues to have sleep problems.
Sometimes babies may have difficulty falling or staying asleep due to growth spurts, teething, or illness.
If your baby often becomes overtired and will not go to sleep, then talk to your baby’s pediatrician.
Treatment might be necessary to improve your baby’s sleep.