Recognising Signs of Tiredness in Babies and Toddlers

Our little ones get tired very easily and this is a completely normal part of their young development. Babies are making many mental and physical adjustments as they acclimatise to their new environment and growth hormones are secreted at a much faster rate while babies sleep. The amount of sleep your child needs will begin to decrease as they grow older, but in these early years, it is all too easy for babies and toddlers to become overtired.

Once youngsters reach that frustrated and irritable stage of overtiredness it can make it far more difficult for them to get off to sleep, and a state of perpetual exhaustion can follow for babies and parents alike!

So if we can learn to recognise those tell-tale signs of tiredness, we should be able to settle our little ones to sleep before that cycle of over-tiredness kicks in.

Signs of Tiredness
Young children express tiredness and the need for sleep through changes in their behaviour and if we can learn to look for these changes, we can work on getting them calmed and settled before overtiredness becomes a problem.

New-born Babies

New-borns are often only awake for an hour or two at a time, and when they are ready to sleep again you may notice any of the following:

  • pulling at ears
  • closing fists
  • arching back
  • fidgeting
  • yawning
  • eyes: staring, squinting, blinking
  • furrowed brow
  • sucking (to settle themselves)

Babies and Toddlers

Babies up to 12 months will often need to sleep at least every 3 hours and older babies will usually need several naps throughout the day. Signs of tiredness may include any of the following:

  • being clingy
  • grizzling or crying
  • being clumsy/heavy-handed
  • boredom/frustration
  • pushing away food
  • demanding attention

It can be difficult to tell if babies are tired or just hungry. If this is the case, you can offer a small feed and if they’re not too interested then the chances are it’s a nap, not a snack, that needs to be on the menu!
Settling Tips &Tricks
When you’ve seen the signs that your little one is getting tired then it’s time to remove any stimuli such as noisy games and create a calming environment.
You can try some of the following:

  • put away toys/games
  • switch off TV
  • dim lights/close curtains
  • talk quietly and soothingly
  • try to settle your child in usual place
  • play low relaxing music

Any quiet time, be it cuddles, bath time or bedtime stories, will relax your little one and help them drift off into a calm and relaxing sleep. Every child is different and finding out what makes them settle is all part of the wonderment of being a parent, as you love and learn all about who they are becoming.

At Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare in NSW, our fun activity-based curriculum is focused on every child’s development as an individual. We encourage their differences and celebrate their uniqueness, as we offer guidance and support through those all-important early developmental stages.