I was just settling down on a couch. After a tiresome day with my baby, I wanted to relax reading a book. Alas, that was not to happen. My daughter woke up and began to wail incessantly.
“Oh no, not again!” I thought. “Why did she wake up in 30 minutes?”
When such situations became frequent, I realize that the naughty girl was actually getting overtired! As she could not talk to me, she was communicating in a way she could. Unfortunately, I could not read the cues. Once I realized the problem, it was not difficult to note the signs of an overtired baby.
If you, too, want to know how to get an overtired baby to sleep, then read on, as MomJunction tells you why the babies can get overtired, how you can read the signs, and deal with it.
What Is Overtiredness?
Overtiredness is a condition in between tiredness and exhaustion. It is a state of physical fatigue that activates the stress-response system.
An overtired baby is too tired to sleep and gets fussy. Even if she manages to fall asleep, she would wake up soon after and struggle to go back to sleep. The more the baby gets tired, the harder it is to put her to sleep, as she cannot control or express herself. To put it simple, an overtired baby just won’t sleep.
Can a little baby, who seemingly has little activity through the day, get really overtired? Yes, she can and it is interesting to know what makes her so tired.
Why Do Babies Get Overtired?
The most common cause for overtiredness is sleep deprivation. Your little one learns several things during the day time. To process all of them, she needs regular naps. That is why babies have short awake hours, which extend with age. For example:
- A newborn can cope with just 45-minute awake time before getting tired.
- A six-month baby can have a two-hour awake time.
- A toddler can deal with a five-hour awake time.
As your baby gets closer to finishing her awake time, she turns drowsy and is all set for a nap. This is the right time for you to settle down your little one, as she can fall asleep with ease.
But what if you do not put her to sleep at the right time? Well, she will have to produce more of cortisol and adrenaline hormones to stay awake. Now, this is stress! The cortisol and adrenaline hormones flood into the bloodstream, making it difficult for the little one to relax.
Note: Crying it out is not helpful for babies and could be stressful.
Why do babies cry when they are tired? Your baby could cry as the last resort after trying to communicate with you in several other ways. If you are asking, “In what way does she communicate with me?” then read on.
Signs Of Tiredness In Babies:
Understanding your baby’s cues will help your baby sleep. You need not have to deal with a grumpy baby. Doesn’t it sound great! Here are a few common and early cues of tiredness in babies (1).
- Facial expressions: If your baby’s expression changes from happy to grumpy, she is getting tired gradually.
- Rubbing eyes, hair and ears: These are among the most common signs of tiredness among babies and are commonly mistaken for teething.
- Yawning: This is one sign you cannot miss! When your baby is yawning, wrap up whatever you are doing and put her to sleep.
- Avoiding eye contact: A tired baby tends to avoid looking at you directly. She may even stare blankly into space.
- Stiffening the body: Your baby may have rigid or tense hands and legs. She may keep her fists clenched.
- Losing interest: If your baby suddenly loses interest in her favorite toy or food, it may be due to tiredness.
- Difficulty in latching: Overtired newborns have difficulty in latching or cry at the breast. Older babies may throw food, toys or things that are there in their hands. Some babies may even hit or smack.
- Self-soothing: If you ignore the early signals, the tired baby sends self-soothing signals like sucking the thumb, searching for a dummy and so on.
- Autonomic signals: After a while, your baby may exhibit autonomic signals, which happen without her conscious control. They include:
- Sweaty palms
- Quick breathe
- Blueness around the mouth in infants
If you miss all these signals the probable outcome is a fussy and crying baby. All these are late signs of an overtired baby. At this stage, a tired newborn cries without any apparent reason, pulls up legs in pain, and arches her back. An older baby puts up miserable behavior, rejects food, fights sleep, screams, and cries.
All these are signs of ‘Flight, Fright and Fight’ that are the classic response to stress hormones. A fussy baby means you surely have missed the bus!
Note: Sometimes, parents may not be able to differentiate between overtiredness of the baby and reflux and colic. Understanding the actual reason is important. Seek a doctor’s advice, if required.
What if you overlook these tiredness cues? You may have to deal with full out meltdowns, which could be a nightmare. Make efforts to calm down the exhausted baby.
How To Calm an Overtired Baby And Put Her To Sleep?
Some babies are ready to sleep at the first signs of tiredness. But some need to be very tired before they fall asleep. You’ll know the difference as your baby grows.
Here’s what you can do when you see tired signs in your baby: (2)
- Playing white noise
- Dimming the lights
To calm down an older baby:
- Rock the little one to drowsiness.
- Sing a lullaby or feed if it is feed time.
- Avoid eye contact. Give her some quiet time.
- Take her away from the noisy environment. No TV, no loud conversations.
- Read a book to help settle her down. Use soothing voice to calm her down faster.
When a baby is tired, she may wake up soon after she falls asleep. So be ready to soothe her back to sleep.
Behavior Of A Baby Constantly Tired
If your baby is getting overtired frequently, she displays a different behavior. It is essential to figure it out and take necessary measures. Such a baby may:
- Sleep for less than average time for her age and refuse to fall asleep. Turns hyperactive.
- Wake up to the slightest of noise and have short or few day-time naps.
- Refuses feeds or baby is too tired for feeds. Such babies feed well during nights. Sleep unusually long during nights.
- Be more content in the mornings than afternoons. Cries often, has short attention spans, seeks constant attention from you while awake.
- Not want to get into her high chair, car seat or crib. Wants you to rock her endlessly.
- Show extreme separation anxiety or have an insatiable appetite.
- Fall asleep even before the feed gets complete.
Overlooking these behaviors could hamper the overall development of the baby. It is essential to prevent overtiredness by giving her enough naps. Keep reading to learn several ways to achieve this.
5 Tips To Prevent Tiredness In Babies
Keeping an eye on your little one and her activities would help her from getting tired frequently. These tips would be beneficial.
- Settle her down at the first sign of tiredness.
- Keep your baby comfortable. Dress her in suitable clothing.
- Keep her room cool with dim lights.
- Do not stimulate or stress the little one during her sleep time.
- Have a fixed bed/nap time and plan a bedtime routine with a warm bath (3).
When you know that your baby goes to sleep at seven in the evening, be ready for her bedtime routine beforehand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do babies cry when they are tired?
A. Your baby was happily playing around, creating a mess, and then she turns inconsolable. She just won’t settle down! Well, an overtired baby cries it out. They can neither realize nor express their tiredness and eventually cry. They fight to fall asleep.
Q. Do hormones make a baby tired?
A. Hormones and neurotransmitters play a role in the entire process. Melatonin and cortisol are the key hormones that govern sleep. The levels of these hormones keep changing all through the day, making it easy to fall asleep at certain times of the day.
Cortisol keeps us awake and alert. It peaks at 8am and begins to droop as the day progresses.
Melatonin prepares us to sleep.
By stimulating the brain to release more melatonin, you can help your little one fall asleep easily.
A calm, sleeping baby is like music to a mother’s ears! Then why not make a little effort to put the little one to sleep before she gets overtired? They key lies in reading the signs and symptoms. With practice, you can learn to decipher your baby’s unspoken words!
How do you know when your baby is tired? How do you get an overtired baby to sleep? Share your tips with other moms.
10 Most Common Reasons Why Babies Wake Up At Night
The first year and a half is usually the worst phase of sleeplessness at night for the newborn and so the toughest phase for new moms as they struggle to cope with the maternal duties round the clock.
Does your baby also wake up suddenly in the middle of the night despite your best efforts to avoid it? If you are still clueless as to why this could be happening, read on to know what could potentially be the cause.
Why Babies Wake At Night?
Here are some very common reasons that could be causing baby suddenly waking up at night:
- If your baby is feeling too hot or cold
- If there is an intrusive light that is affecting your baby’s sleep
- If there is any sudden noise that affects baby at night
- If your baby was recently ill
- If there is a change in your baby’s routine, like a vacation
- If your baby has just learnt a new motor or developmental skill and is trying it out at night
- If your baby is about to reach a new milestone
- If your baby is used to sleeping with a bottle or pacifier
- If your baby is used to sleeping with a rocking or swinging motion
- If your baby is not properly fed before bed
How Do I Prevent Baby Waking In The Night?
Whether your baby has always been waking up in the middle of the night or only recently doing so, it is possible to change the habit. Here are a few things you can try out to avoid babies waking in the night and ensures tight sleeps through the night:
1. Proper Temperature And Dress:
Ensure that the temperature in your baby’s room is comfortable. It should not be too hot or too cold for your baby. Dress your baby according to the weather and the temperature inside the room.
2. Maintain A Routine:
Babies find it very difficult to adjust to a sudden change in routine. If your baby is used to falling asleep at a particular time at night, make sure you follow the pattern every day. Try and maintain your baby’s bedtime rituals as much as you can, even if the baby is away from home. This will help your baby know that it is time for bed.
3. Tummy Full:
If your baby is full before falling off to sleep, chances of waking up in the middle of the night will be lesser. Ensure your baby has a healthy and filling dinner before sleep creeps in. Healthy eating is also important throughout the day as tummy trouble too could be the cause of his disturbed sleep. If your baby has fallen asleep without eating, you may try to wake up the baby by gently calling out his name.
4. Stop Those Midnight Play Sessions:
Avoid playing, talking, or doing any fun activity with your baby at odd hours. If your baby starts getting bored, chances of him falling back to sleep sooner will be more. Simply be there with your little one so that he feels calm and can fall back to sleep.
Hope by now you are clear that why babies wake at night. Do not worry too much about the baby’s nocturnal activity. Remember that waking up in the middle of the night is restricted to your baby’s first few years only. While most babies learn to sleep through the night sometime during the first year itself, others may take slightly longer.
Moms, how did you manage to make your baby sleep through the night? Do share your tips here with other moms.
7 Best Swaddle Blankets For Your Baby & Tips On Swaddling Baby
There are very few things that can replace a mother’s warmth. Swaddling is one such thing.
Who wouldn’t love to see their babies have a peaceful sleep? A sleep-deprived baby can be quite a handful. Moreover, if the sleeping patterns are maintained properly, the baby would grow well, physically and mentally.
Confused why we suddenly moved from swaddling to sleep? It’s because they are interlinked. Infants sleep better if they are swaddled. MomJunction gives you some much-needed information on how to swaddle a baby and would help you buy amazing swaddling blankets that can keep your baby warm and give him some much needed calm time. Also, check out our tips on swaddling and safety precautions.
What Is A Swaddling Blanket?
So, what are these swaddling blankets? The blankets recreate the environment that was in the womb. They give the baby the perfect warmth and comfort needed to sleep better. Plus, you have peace of mind.
Best Swaddle Blankets For Newborns:
Swaddling blankets come in various materials. The best, however, is muslin or cotton. If you are on the lookout for a good swaddling blanket for your infant, your search ends now! Here are the best baby swaddle blankets to choose from:
1. Bebemooi Sleephack
Buy Bebemooi Sleephack: 100% Cotton Natural Sleeved Sleeper (Medium, Blue) For ₹10,648 @ www.amazon.in
Made from 100% cotton material, this amazing sleep bag ensures that your baby gets the perfect sleep in the coziest atmosphere.
With a zipper all the way through, this bag mimics the atmosphere in the womb. The pajamas make the baby comfortable, and the bag gives the baby enough room to move his legs. Travel-friendly and easy to clean, the material of this bag makes air exchange easy and regulates the temperature as well.
2. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets:
Buy Aden Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets For ₹ 6,380 @ www.amazon.in
Most new mothers swear by this product! These blankets come in two sizes – 42” x 42” and 47” x 47”. So, make sure to order the right size. These swaddling blankets are light, yet they keep the little one warm. They are made of 100% cotton. The more you wash, the softer the blanket will become. Yes, these blankets are not the cutest in the market, but they do get the job done!
3. Halo Sleepsack Swaddle:
Buy Halo Sleepsack Swaddle For ₹ 2,648 @ www.amazon.in
The Halo Sleepsack Swaddle comes in two varieties: 100% polyester version and 100% cotton version. They also come in three sizes: preemie, newborn and small. These swaddles have a zipper and Velcro, making them easy to use.
If you are uncomfortable with the whole swaddling process, the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle is the perfect for you!
4. Summer Infant SwaddleMe:
Buy Summer Infant Swaddle Me For ₹ 4145 @ www.amazon.in
Just like the Halo, the Summer Infant SwaddleMe also comes with a Velcro design. But the one thing most mothers love about these swaddles is their design. If you are looking for colorful designs, go for the Summer Infant SwaddleMe. These blankets come in two sizes: small/medium and large. If you want a swaddle that is easy to use and looks cute, this is your best bet!
5. Miracle Blanket:
Buy Miracle Blanket For ₹ 11,329 @ www.amazon.in
If you are a swaddling pro, this product will ‘speak’ to you. The Miracle Blanket does not use any zipper or Velcro. Instead, they use a unique and complicated wrapping process. The wrapping process involves elaborate steps and may seem confusing to some. But most mothers have only good things to say about the Miracle swaddling blanket. The only downside is that it does not come in different sizes. It also does not boast of cute designs but keeps wiggly infants safe and warm!
Buy Woompie For ₹ 2166 @ www.amazon.in
This is one of the best swaddle blankets for moms who like to keep things simple. Just put your baby in and zip it up! It comes with a stretchy fabric that allows your infant to move around and be comfortable.
Buy SwaddlePod For ₹ 1529 @ www.amazon.in
Just like the Woompie, the Swaddlepod, too, is a no-fuss swaddle blanket. It is ideal for newborns and prevents startle reflex that can wake your baby up.
After looking at the above options, you might get a crucial doubt: “Why should I use a swaddle, at all?”
Why Is Swaddling Important?
Besides what we did mention above, let us quickly check these points out (1).
- Keeps the baby comfortable and calm by giving him a womb-like experience and atmosphere.
- Places the arms tightly towards the sides thus preventing a startling reflex, which not just wakes babies up from their slumber but could also increase the heart rate. As the arms are held close together even if the baby gets startled, he wouldn’t wake up suddenly.
- Maintains the right temperature, much like the baby was used to in the womb. Swaddling blankets made of muslin or cotton cloths ensure good air circulation and the right temperature.
- Prevents suffocation unlike loose blankets, which could lead to Sudden Infant Death.
Swaddle blankets are important, but what is equally important is the process of using them. Learning to swaddle your baby could take a few (read two to three attempts). You have to ensure that the baby is comfortable while you’re swaddling him. We know you will surely appreciate some help here.
How To Swaddle Your Baby?
While this isn’t rocket science, you have to consider a few things when swaddling the baby: his comfort is number one on the list, his willingness to be swaddled is number two and then the material and thickness of the blanket. Let’s know how to swaddle a baby.
1. Choose your blanket:
- Consider the shape (should be square), size (preferably 40×40”), the material of the blanket, and the elasticity of the blanket.
- The blanket could be a little (but not very) stretchable. This would help you wrap the baby nicely.
2. Fold the blanket:
- Fold the blanket in a diamond shape from the top corner of the blanket.
- The fold should be as long as your baby is.
3. Place the baby on the blanket:
- Once the fold is made, place the baby on it.
- Make sure that the baby’s neck and face are above the fold.
- Support the neck while you are swaddling the baby.
4. Fold the baby’s arms:
- One way could be to hold the baby’s arms around his sides. This way, the arms would outline the baby’s sides.
- Another way is to fold the hands over the tummy to replicate the posture in the womb.
- Whatever way you use, make sure that the baby is comfortable.
5. Wrap a side:
- Hold the blanket on the side of one arm and tuck it in the downward direction under the fist of the other arm.
- The blanket should be tucked in such a way that it holds the baby’s arm in place.
6. Close the bottom:
- Once one arm is adjusted and swaddled, close the bottom of the swaddle.
- The section, which is left at the bottom, should be folded towards the upward direction near the baby’s neck. The side should be the one where you just tucked the baby.
7. Wrap the second arm:
- Just like the first arm, adjust the other arm and wrap it around.
- This should come over the fold that you made from the bottom of the swaddle.
- Cross it on the downward opposite side.
8. Tuck the left over:
- The left-over blanket from the second arm should be flipped over from the legs to the top in such a way that it forms a V-neck.
- Tuck it under the shoulder of the first arm. You may have to lift the baby up a bit to complete the final tuck of the swaddle.
Things to remember:
- Give the baby enough leg space and make sure that the baby can move his legs inside the swaddle. Bad swaddling could sometimes lead to hip dysplasia if the swaddle does not have enough room for the baby’s feet.
- Do not tighten the swaddle. A tighter swaddle does not mean the baby is comfortable. You should only make the baby feel warm, not suffocated.
- Once the swaddle is done, check for air circulation and monitor the baby’s temperature.
At last, we know how to make our tiny fellas comfortable. But it doesn’t end here. There are still a couple of things you could take home!
For How Long Can I Swaddle My Baby?
And by that we mean the age until which you can swaddle the baby. It is best to swaddle your baby until three or four months, but some parents prefer to do it for a good nine months.
While most doctors recommend swaddling until four to six months, they also agree that there is no harm in extending it. The idea is to make your baby feel relaxed and comfortable while sleeping.
Once your baby gets used to sleeping without a swaddle, then you can do away with it. And how would you know when to wean your baby off a swaddle? The best way is put one arm off the swaddle. If your baby isn’t sleeping well and seems irritable, he is not ready yet. So wrap the baby back. After nine months, make conscious attempts to wean the baby off the swaddle.
When Should You Avoid Swaddling?
Swaddling is not suitable in all the cases. You need to avoid swaddling at times:
- Hip dysplasia is an abnormal bone formation in the hip section. Because of the abnormality, the bone does not fit well in the socket. If your baby has this, do not swaddle him. Check with your doctor and make sure that the baby is swaddle-ready.
- Avoid swaddling when the baby is not sleeping but trying to play or move. While this may seem logical, the idea is to swaddle the baby only when you are trying to calm him or put him to bed.
Risks Of Swaddling:
Swaddling is comfortable both for the baby and you, but it is not free of risks. This does not mean that we are discouraging you from swaddling your baby, but we just want you to be more careful. The two major risks involved are:
While swaddling prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it may also promote it. Confused? If you do not swaddle the baby properly, and the folds are too close to the baby’s neck (thereby obstructing the windpipe), there are chances of SIDS. So make sure that you’re swaddling the baby correctly and leaving enough room near the neck region.
2. Lack of “arousal”:
A lot of babies lose their ability of arousal if they are swaddled for too long. This means they wouldn’t know when to wake up. While many parents want their babies to get a good sleep, babies should be swaddled for a limited time only.
An infant needs around 12-16 hours of sleep every day. And you need at least seven! A swaddling blanket can ensure enough sleep for you both. But, make sure that you get it right!
Have you thought of using a swaddling blanket? Are you already using one? Why don’t you review the brand for us? Just type in your views in the comments section below.
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