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Recognising Baby Tired Signs

Recognising Baby Tired Signs

Getting your newborn baby to sleep can often be challenging, and is much more difficult if your baby becomes overtired.

A newborn can go from tired to over-tired in an incredibly short time - missing the tired signs and delaying bedtime by even 5 to 10 minutes can make it much harder to settle your baby.

Therefore recognising when your baby is tired is an essential skill. These are the cues that it's time to stop whatever you are doing and get your baby into bed ASAP!

How long can a newborn be awake for?

During the day, babies up to 6 weeks old will generally show tired signs about an hour after waking. Remember this awake time includes your feeding, nappy changing and all other awake activities, so it can pass in a flash.

So start looking for tired signs about 50 minutes after waking.

As your baby gets older, the awake time will slowly stretch out. By 3 months old we find 90 minutes of awake time is about right and by 4 months old, 2 hours awake time is usual.

What are the tired signs?

Your baby may show one or more of the following tired signs when they are ready for sleep.

Early tired signs

  • Grizzling

  • Jerky leg movements

  • Wriggling

  • Making fists

  • A fixed stare

  • Facial grimacing

  • Looking away from you

Two sleeping babies wrapped in swaddles

newborn baby yawning lying on top of embe swaddle

Over-tired signs

  • Crying
  • Yawning
  • Eye Rubbing

Remember, the quicker your baby is put into bed after showing a tired sign, the quicker she will settle. An over-tired baby will cry more and take much longer to settle.


Watch our video - recognising baby tired signs

My baby looks bored

Very commonly missed tired signs are your baby showing a glazed stare or baby looking away from you. Your baby isn't bored, she is showing you she's tired and ready for bed.

If you start jiggling or showing a tired baby toys rather than getting her into bed, she will quickly end up over-tired and over-stimulated. This will make her much harder to settle.

Is my baby hungry or tired?

It's easy to get confused about whether your baby is hungry or tired when you are a new parent! The focus in hospital or from midwives can often be on breastfeeding and settling by feeding, which always assumes that baby is hungry.

But often an unsettled baby is actually tired and offering another feed will result in baby becoming over-tired.

Using our 'Feed, Awake, Sleep' structure to your day makes it clear when to feed or put baby into bed.

  1. Feed your baby when she wakes.

  2. Awake time - After your feed - Cuddles, bath, nappy change etc

  3. Sleep - Swaddle and into bed when you see tired signs such as grizzling.

The sleeparticles and advice provided on contains sleep information of a general nature. It is not intended to replace personalised information about your baby provided by medical professionals and your Well Child provider.
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