Reading your child's "sleep signs"

Now I realize that this topic may sound like a no-brainer. But if your little one fights you when it’s time for sleep or if you’re usually waiting until they look really tired to head for the crib, there could be a key early sign that you’re missing. Knowing what to look for could make a big difference.

It's not always so obvious when a child is getting tired... Here's how to recognize "sleep signs" so you can get your child to bed BEFORE they become overtired!

I heard from a fellow mom (we’ll call her Jane) who recently wrote: "Help! Why can’t I recognize my three-month-old’s sleep signs? No yawning, no eye rubbing. She seems to go from quite happy to very upset in a split second and then it takes a while to settle her down and get her to sleep."

Usually when someone refers to “sleep signs” or clear signals that a child is tired, they think of yawning and perhaps eye rubbing. Some signs you may not be aware of though are nose scrunching and ear pulling – anything that has to do with rubbing the face.

Once a client's son kept rubbing his nose and he looked tired. She replied “Oh really? I thought he just had allergies.” It’s easy to miss some of the signs of fatigue, but if your child is doing any type of rubbing or pulling, they’re definitely tired. Don’t wait for a yawn.

Jane’s baby seemed to go from happy to upset at the drop of a dime. Her baby is probably very good at hiding her fatigue. Sometimes when they start to have feelings of being tired they’ll push through those feelings with perhaps more active play and maybe even get a little hyper. They’ll kick into overdrive and almost become a bit manic.

That squirmy baby, the one who doesn’t want to sit on your knee, doesn’t want to stand up, arches their back, crawls around very quickly, laughs one moment and cries the next is a tired baby and ready for sleep.

If your child is happy one second and crying the next, you might have to keep more of an eye on the clock that on your baby to figure out when she needs to sleep. A three-month-old like Jane’s baby can handle about an hour and a half of awake time. If she woke up at 8 am, then by 9:30 am, she’s most likely ready for a nap. If you aren’t sure what the appropriate awake time is for your little one, check out my earlier post on baby’s sleep needs.

In this case, even if they’re calm and happy and not showing any “sleep signs,” I always suggest that it’s better to put them down too soon rather than too late if they’re at the end of their ideal awake time window. Sometimes the calmer baby goes down, the faster sleep comes and it becomes an easier transition for them.

Keeping an eye on your child’s individual sleep signs, along with the clock for those who don’t show any clear signs, will help you get your little love down for naps and bedtime with little to no battle. If you want to learn more about this strategy and how to end your child’s sleep challenges once and for all, contact me now to set up your free call.