As parents, we need to pay attention and learn to read our babies behaviour, which can be easier said than done when it’s often changing. But it’s important for us to read their communication attempts because if we repeatedly miss what they’re telling us, they need to try harder and harder to be heard.
Babies’ attempts to tell us they’re tired can be very subtle - a long blink or an unfocused stare. If we miss the subtle signs then a baby becomes increasingly tired and they have to tell us they’re tired in more overt ways, such as crying, or in extreme cases, vomiting.
It’s ideal to see and respond to the subtle signs, so the 'potent', i.e. obvious, ones aren’t required.
Early tired signs (subtle)
- Paler face than usual
- Glazed eyes, blank stare
- Long blinks
- Being very still and quiet for brief periods
Older babies and toddlers may become:
- bored with activities
- fussy with food
- wanting more attention than usual.
Later tired signs
As the tiredness increases, so do the indicators and you may see:
- little grizzles for no apparent reason
- increasing restlessness
- jerking limb movement
- rubbing head, ears or eyes
- clenched fists
- sucking on fists or fingers
- furrowed brow or worried look
Older babies and toddlers may also become:
- intolerant of regular activities and play
- unable to respond to you.
Overtired signs (potent)
As the tiredness increases, so do the indicators and you may see really 'potent' or strong signs, such as:
- stiffening of the entire body
- toddlers may have a full blown tantrum.
Sleep needs to happen very soon once your baby or toddler becomes overtired. They’ll require a lot of help to calm down and settle for sleep. Quiet time will be essential to help them wind down.
By watching your baby's cues and behaviours, you're giving your baby the opportunity to be in an ideal state to drift to sleep with ease.
Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research.
Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.