Two Easy Ways To Know When Your Baby is Tired

Oct 20, 2016

So you know that you're supposed to put your baby to bed when she's tired. I mean, duh, right?

But -- but what do you do when... you don't know when your baby is tired?

She'll be playing happily one moment and screaming the next.

Or maybe you find that he's laughing hysterically and it suddenly turns into cries.

Or maybe you thought you knew when he was tired, but somehow, you weren't able to get him to sleep.

Then what?

So how can you really nail that sweet spot where your baby is perfectly tired, but not overtired yet?

Easy Way #1: Tired Signs

It might not be what you're looking for, though. Most people think of yawning as a typical tired sign, but most babies don't yawn - and even when they do, it's not necessarily indicative of tiredness.

So what should you look for?

  • Rubbing/pulling their ears, eyes or nose
  • Arching their back or squirming
  • Spacing out with a "seven mile stare"
  • Slow, droopy blink (especially when nursing or on bottle)
  • Burrowing into whomever is holding him or her
  • Clenching their fists
  • Pulling their knees up to chest
  • A short kvetch (I usually see this in newborns at the 45 minute mark)

Crying - real full-out crying is never a tired sign - it's always, ALWAYS, a late sign - your baby is already overtired (or overhungry etc.) if they're crying.

Oftentimes, we miss our babies' tired signs - we hear that little kvetch and think, "she's bored" or "he's hungry" and miss the cue. Keeping a close eye on your baby for a couple of days can help you spot those signs (even if you didn't think they were there.)

But what if your baby NEVER does any of those?

Because babies like that definitely do exist. Then what?

Easy Way #2: Awake time limit averages

Yup. The secret you've been waiting for is really here. There are real numbers that I've found prove right time and time again with my clients - averages (and if you hang in there, I'll share them with you!) of the length of time babies can handle being awake.

When you don't know what to make of your baby's signs, or your baby doesn't have any signs at all, there are two things I fall back on: awake time limit averages and overtired cues.

So what are those averages, you ask?


Awake Time Limit

0-6 weeks

45 min - 1 hour

6-12 weeks

45 min - 1 hour and 30 min

3-5 months

1 hour and 15 min - 2.5 hours

5-7 months

2-3 hours

8-14 months

3-4.5 hours

14 months - 2.5 years

4-6 hours

2.5-3.5 years

5-12 hours

3.5-5 years

12 hours

For a foolproof, failsafe way to figure out what your baby's awake time limit is (along with a whole bunch of other great ways to help your baby fall asleep easily) grab my free guide on the Five Habits You Didn't Know Your Baby Needs by clicking HERE.

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