Sleep – Overtiredness

My baby is not a good sleeper, and I have cut right down on his day sleeps in order to get him good and tired at bedtime. Unfortunately it seems to have made his sleep even worse, if that is possible. How can that be?

It’s simple. Your baby is overtired. An overtired baby gets completely overwrought and is not able to sleep well at all. Properly managed day naps are a vital component of a good night’s sleep. So you need to reintroduce the day naps. Up until about age 2, babies need to have day naps in order to prevent overtiredness.

If your baby is under three months old, he should be taking a nap every two hours or so. Until he is in a better routine of sleeping, you may need to invest some time in calming him for up to half an hour before he goes to sleep. You will need to figure out what exactly it is that calms your baby – gentle music, a massage, being rocked. For the next while you may need to do these calming activities several times a day, until he is sleeping better, and then he may be easier to calm as well.

Most babies up until six months should have three naps a day, a short one morning and evening of approximately 45 minutes each and a longer one at midday. The most important nap for baby is the one around lunch time. If he has a good nap of up to two and a half hours between 12 and 2 then he should not be overtired at bedtime. This nap coincides with a natural dip in baby’s energy, and should be the last nap that you cut back on. If baby is not managing a good lunch time nap, then you should perhaps shorten the morning nap to encourage a good sleep at lunch time. Although most babies do need a late afternoon nap, this should not be a long nap, and they should be awake around 4.30 or 5 latest if this nap is not to interfere with bed time. This is the nap that you can shorten first, and also cut out first if you think that your baby needs less sleep in the day. However many moms find that a short afternoon nap is the thing that helps get through the evening without having a very grumpy baby!

It may be that all of this managing of naps is not for you. Perhaps you are happy to let baby drop off when it suits him. Just be aware of the fact that day naps are vital in preventing an overtired baby who does not sleep well. So you will have to be well tuned into your baby, and create a nap system that you use when he shows signs of tiredness. Otherwise baby may keep on going until he is really exhausted and then you will have a tough time calming him.

See also:
Baby Sleep – Controlled Crying
Baby Sleep – Compromise
Baby Sleep – Cot in parents’ room
Baby Sleep – Doing it your way
Baby Sleep – Own Room
Baby Sleep – Position
Baby Sleep – Sharing Mother’s Bed
Baby Sleep – Teaching baby to sleep +27 (0)81 885 4683

*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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