What Are Baby Tired Signs?

Learn about typical baby tired signs; how to tell if your baby is overtired, and why it can be difficult for some tired babies to sleep.


Babies can become fussy and unhappy when they’re tired. It can be tough to know when it’s time for a nap or bedtime, but there are some telltale signs that your baby is ready for sleep. If your baby is yawning, rubbing their eyes, or seems cranky, it’s probably time to put them down for a nap or the night. It’s essential to catch tiredness early, as babies can become overtired and have difficulty falling asleep if they’re kept awake too long. Knowing how babies of different ages behave when tired can help you better understand your baby’s needs and promote quality sleep. Read on for more detailed information about baby tired signs.

What Are Typical Baby Tired Signs (in a newborn)?

Baby tired signs can vary depending on the age of your baby. As a new parent, you may find it challenging to know when your newborn is tired and needs sleep. However, some common signs may show that your baby is ready for a nap, such as yawning, rubbing eyes, fussing or crying, slowing down and becoming less active, settling into a quiet position, pulling at ears, and closing fists. If your baby exhibits signs of fatigue, such as drooping eyelids or trouble focusing, it may be time for a nap. Other less common symptoms of tiredness include jerky arm and leg movements or fluttering eyelids. If your baby displays any of these cues, it’s likely time for some shut-eye.

Every newborn is different, but the consensus is that newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, change every 2 hours, and take around 15-20 naps daily. That’s a lot of sleep! And it’s not surprising that newborns can often seem cranky, unsettled, and ready for bed. Babies will also cry more, drop their feedings by a few minutes, and seem less interested in playing or interacting with you when tired. While these signs may appear unspecific, they’re your best way of knowing when your baby needs a nap.

Baby tired signs
Some common signs that may show your baby is ready for a nap are yawning, rubbing eyes, fussing or crying, pulling at ears, and closing fists.

What Are Typical Baby Tired Signs (in a 3-month-old)?

By the time your baby is 3 months old, he/she should have a more regular sleep schedule and be able to communicate her need for naps a little better. A 3-month-old typically eats every 3 hours and takes 3-4 naps totalling 4-5 hours per day (with 1-2 longer nighttime feedings). You will probably notice that your baby’s tired signs are more apparent when she’s ready for a nap. He/she may yawn, rub eyes, fidget, or begin to fuss. You may also notice that they are more restless and unable to stay still. Their cry will likely be higher pitched and more consistent as he/she fits more feedings into their day.

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one”

Leo. J. Burke

What Are Typical Baby Tired Signs (in a 1-year-old)?

As your baby grows, it will become more resistant to sleep, and its signs of being tired will become less noticeable. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t still exhausted. Baby sleep patterns are constantly changing, but around 1 year old is when they can generally start sleeping on their own for more extended periods. They usually eat every 4-5 hours, take 2-3 naps (or 1 longer nap), and sleep for a total of 11-12 hours at night.

Tiredness signs at this age can include yawning, screaming, rubbing the eyes, pulling at the ears, getting fussy or cranky, losing interest in playing, becoming clingy, and having trouble sleeping through the night. If you notice these baby tired cues, it’s probably time to start winding down the activity level and preparing for sleep.

At this age, your baby should be able to recognize its tired signs. While it may be difficult to tell the difference between a cry for attention and one for sleep, if your baby gets enough sleep, it should be more content during the day.

How Can You Tell If A Baby Is Overtired?

If your baby seems fussy, is fighting sleep, or is extra restless or irritable, they may be overtired. This can happen if they don’t get enough naps during the day and aren’t able to recharge as they should.

If your baby is exhausted, it can be challenging to get them to sleep. An overtired baby may cry more, have trouble feeding, and be inconsolable. If your baby is showing overtired signs, it is essential to try to get them to sleep as soon as possible. Ways to help an overtired baby sleep better include cutting back on stimulation during the day and ensuring they get enough naps.

What Should You Do When Baby Starts To Show Tired Signs?

The best thing you can do when your baby starts to exhibit tired signs is to help them get the rest they need. This means putting them down for their naps early, ensuring you’re feeding them well and changing their diapers, and providing a quiet, calm, soothing environment. Sometimes babies get tired because they are hungry or uncomfortable, so addressing these needs can help.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a hungry baby and an overtired baby; if your baby isn’t able to calm down, it’s a sign that they need more sleep. If your baby is overtired, putting them down for naps early is essential, giving them more time to rest. You can also try to soothe them with a gentle massage or some white noise to help them relax.

Baby tired signs
If your baby is overtired, putting them down for naps early is essential, giving them more time to rest

Why Do Tired Babies Fight Sleep?

It’s no secret that babies can be fussy when they’re tired. But why do they fight sleep even when they’re exhausted? There are a few reasons your little one might not want to go to bed, even when tired.

Your Baby Might Be Hungry

One of the most common reasons is that your baby is hungry and doesn’t have enough food in their system, to be able to settle. This often happens when your baby is on a growth spurt and needs to eat more frequently than they usually do. A full tummy will help them feel more relaxed and sleepy, so if they seem tired but won’t eat, try offering a small snack.

Temperature Regulation Issues

Another reason babies might have difficulty sleeping is due to temperature regulation. Babies have sensitive skin and may not always know how to adjust to changes in temperature. They may have trouble falling asleep if it’s too hot or cold. To help your baby sleep better, create a calm environment with dim lighting and quiet activities before bedtime. This will help them wind down and fall asleep more easily.

Not Used to Sleeping Through the Night Yet!

Finally, your baby might not be used to sleeping through the night. If they’ve only recently started sleeping for longer stretches, their bodies can take a little while to adjust. Be patient and stick to a consistent bedtime routine; eventually, they’ll get the hang of it!

Baby tired signs
To help your baby sleep better, create a calm environment with dim lighting and quiet activities before bedtime.

How Do You Get An Overtired Baby To Sleep?

Getting your baby to sleep as soon as possible is essential if your baby is overtired. This may not be easy, as an overtired baby is often more challenging to settle. However, there are a few things you can do to help an overtired baby sleep:

Try White Noise

White noise can help soothe and calm an overtired baby. There are many apps and devices that offer white noise, or you can turn on a fan or run the vacuum cleaner.

Rock Gently

Gently rocking or swaying your baby can help them to drift off to sleep. Try rocking in a chair or even rocking them in their crib.

Give Them A Bath

A warm bath can help relax your baby and prepare them for sleep. Be sure to keep the water lukewarm and avoid using soap, which can irritate their skin.

     “A day without a nap for a baby is like a cupcake without frosting”

Terry Guillemets

Swaddle Them

An overtired baby can feel more secure and safe while swaddled, which may allow them to sleep longer.

Gentle Massage

A gentle massage can help to relax an overtired baby and may make them sleepy. Try massaging their back, legs, or feet.

Try A Pacifier

If your baby is using a pacifier, they may be more likely to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.


Older babies may benefit from being read a bedtime story. This can help them to wind down and get ready for sleep. Choose a quiet, soothing book with simple pictures.

Why Does My Baby Seem More Tired Than Usual?

There are a few reasons your baby might seem more tired than usual. It could be due to a growth spurt, teething, illness, or a change in their sleep schedule. If your baby is napping less during the day, it may be more tired at night. Try to create a calm environment before bedtime and stick to a consistent bedtime routine to help your baby get the rest they need. If your baby still has trouble sleeping, talk to your pediatrician about other options.

Where Can I Get Support If I Can’t Get My Tired Baby To Sleep?

 If you’re struggling to get your tired baby to sleep, there are a few places you can turn for support.

In Australia, you can contact Tresillian or Karitane for advice and tips on getting your baby to sleep. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns and ask for their advice. They may be able to offer additional support and suggestions. You can also join a parenting group or online community for guidance and support from other parents. Finally, many books and websites provide information on helping babies sleep better. Try different resources to find what works best for you and your family.

USA: You can contact your child’s pediatrician, a parenting helpline, or a local parenting group for support in the USA. You can also find helpful information on baby sleep on websites such as the National Sleep Foundation and HealthyChildren.org.

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UK: You can contact your health visitor or GP in the UK for advice on getting your baby to sleep. You can also find helpful information on the National Health Service (NHS) website and the Baby Sleep Guide app.

Baby tired signs
 If you’re struggling to get your tired baby to sleep, there are a few places you can turn for support!

Final Thoughts

Early tired signs can be difficult to decipher, but trying to catch them early is essential. An overtired baby can have trouble sleeping and even become cranky and fussy. To help your baby sleep better, keep an eye out for sleep cues and put them down for a nap or bedtime as soon as you notice them.

Don’t forget that every baby is different. Some may need more sleep than others, and some may be able to power through their tiredness better than others. If you’re ever unsure whether your baby is tired, err on the side of caution and put them down for a nap. They’ll thank you for it later!


G’day! I’m Ken, and this blog documents my journey to becoming an awesome Dad! I would love for you to join along on my journey as I discover and learn how to become the best Dad I can possibly be, and manage this goal with my challenging work commitments!

Kenny has 53 posts and counting. See all posts by Kenny

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