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Reading Your Baby's Sleep Cues

Determining your baby's sleep cues can feel like a ticking time bomb... one moment, everything is sweet and playful, and then suddenly you have a fussy, overtired baby on your hands. Timing is everything.

Some of the common sleepy cues in babies are: yawning, rubbing of eyes, red rimmed eyes. Less activity and less vocalizations are also common. If you baby starts sucking on their hands, they may be getting tired. Crying and fussiness where hunger and pain can be ruled out is no doubt a sign that your baby is tired and needs to get to bed.

Toddlers and older children's sleepy cues may be a little more difficult to read. While crying, irritability and fussiness can also be present, other less obvious cues may show up such as hyperactivity, defiance, or clingy-ness.

So let's break it down a little more and get specific about timing.

Baby is alert, energetic, and wide eyed. They actively engage with their surroundings and pay attention to what’s going on around them. Your baby may not be ready for a nap quite yet.

Baby gets less active and their eyes begin to get a little heavy. They become less interested in their surroundings and may want to be picked up and held. This is your cue to start getting your baby situated for their nap.

Eyelids begin to get noticeably heavier and may begin to squirm, arch their back, or rub their eyes. Time to get baby into to bed!

Baby may pull on their ears, yawn, become fussy, cry, and seem generally uncomfortable. Hurry, you may be on the brink of over tiredness!

Eye's begin to close: Baby’s entered into very light sleep at the first stage of the sleep cycle. May still squirm and make some noise. If this has happened before you got to putting your baby down to sleep, they may wake up after being put down or within 30-45 minutes. Work on getting them down before this stage.


If you aren't sure about what your child's sleep needs are: go to my homepage and download my free sleep needs cheat sheet!

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