The Dreaded Overtired Baby…

By Maddie Amyotte

May 8, 2018

My name is Maddie and I am a Registered Nurse, lactation counsellor, sleep coach, and Mama to two babies under 2 years old! Working with babies and children has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Nothing makes me happier than helping families reach their goals, no matter what they be!

Why Avoiding Overtiredness is Essential To Your Little One’s Sleep Success

Put simply, being overtired means that your child has passed the point of being ready for sleep.

I talk to my clients a lot about finding their child’s “sweet spot”. That point that they are relaxed and have enough “sleep pressure” built up that they are able to fall asleep easily, and stay asleep. Missing that small window of time, or the sweet spot, results in an overtired baby. Trust me… it’s a real thing, and supported by science!

Has your little one ever turned from a sweet, relaxed, sleepy baby into a wild child?

The Reason?? Stress Hormones!

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline play a variety of vital roles in our bodies. One of its jobs is to protect us from potential dangers . Think fight or flight – a phrase we’ve probably all heard and used, but never thought of as being related to sleep.

When we push our bodies past the point of being tired, our bodies perceive the reason as being a potential threat. If we are denying ourselves sleep, it MUST be for a reason…

Think stuck in a tree with a bear beneath us. That would be a great reason to need to stay awake, but is an unlikely occurrence for your babe, thankfully. 

What Does This Look Like? 

Every child is different, so keep in mind that overtiredness may manifest differently in your own little one. 

  • Baby may turn away from stimulation 
  • Yawn, hiccup, or sneeze repetitively
  • Baby may cry, arch their back, and be difficult to console (think the witching hour, or colic) 
  • Irritability  
  • Clumsiness 
  • Clinginess & demanding constant attention 
  • Refusing the breast or food 
  • Rubbing eyes or ears 
  • Hyperactive behaviour 
  • Manic behaviour (happy one second, upset the next) 
  • Giggling excessively 

Being overtired is a vicious cycle because it causes them to spend more time in REM (active) sleep, not allowing them to get into the deep sleep they need to refuel.

This Causes:

-Excessive crying at bedtime

-Frequent night wakings 

-Broken/short naps 

-Nightmares/night terrors 



How Do You Calm an Overtired Baby?

Routine! Bedtime routines are designed to unwind & allow your little one to get into a state conducive to sleep. 

Ask me about the perfect bedtime routine!

To prevent your little one from falling victim to this vicious cycle prevention is key! Know what your child’s early signs of being tired are – and find that sweet spot for sleep.

Chronic exhaustion in kids is a real problem. If your little one has frequent night wakings, short naps, refuses the breast, resists independent play, or any of the other signs above – you could probably use a little extra help to get back on track. 

The Mama Coach sleep programs are different because they are based on: 

science + empathy + support

As RNs and Mamas, we know how hard this mom gig can be and are here for support along the way. You got this, Mama! 

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