10 Ways To Tell If Your Baby is Overtired

There are some children that love their sleep, while others would prefer to do absolutely anything to get out of it. Some children, even those of a very young age, will fight nap time and bed time the best they can. So, we have compiled 10 ways to tell if your child is overtired, as they often will not tell you that they are.

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Despite the fact that they do nap and sleep well during the night, not every sleep is restful. There may be times where they sleep a solid 12-hour stretch only to wake irritable and anxious. This may indicate that they are, indeed, overtired. So, some of the most common clues may not be enough. Here are a list of ways to notice your child's exhaustion, even if they're not communicating it directly to you.


A classic, tell-tale sign that your child is tired is if they begin to rub their eyes. Often, their eyes dry while they begin to get sleepier and sleepier. Even in adulthood, we often rub our eyes if we're overtired and need a good rest.

Starting as early as day one, this sign may be an obvious one every time your child is tired; however, they may only do this on occasion. Any time you notice their eyes being rubbed, take note. Their eyes may be red, they may look glossy. Eyes can tell you a lot when they're tired, so try and settle the child. They may fall asleep faster than you expect.


This sign is a tricky one, because many believe ear pulling to be associated with ear infections. If the ear tugging is consistent, along with crying from pain and an intense amount of irritability, we suggest you speak with your doctor at your earliest convenience.

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Despite the fact that this sign can be one of illness, it is also incredibly common for young children to pull their ears and earlobes to soothe them to sleep. If your child is overtired, they may try and settle themselves during any point of the day. By pulling their ears, they may be signalling how tired they truly are.


Irritability is a big sign that your baby, toddler or child is exhausted. Just as we adult gets upset more easily when we are overtired, children do, too. They are experiencing "big emotions" that they do not know how to appropriately express yet. So, if you notice your child is "acting out" or throwing tantrums more often, they may be overtired.

Rest is vital for a good, healthy and happy outlook, even in children as young as a few months old. Try and settle your young child if they are more irritable than usual. Though this, too, could be a sign of illness, if they are not showing any other signs they are likely absolutely exhausted.


In contrast to being tired and lethargic, some young children will get a boost of energy when they are over tired. If they do, watch for signs. Notice whether this is a normal energy burst: once that is controlled by their emotions.

If they happen to be acting a bit stir-crazy, like they are on adrenaline, this may be because they're overtired. Especially if they are going through their usual nap time, the young child may get a spike of energy. This could be a classic sign that it's time for them to settle and try to take a sleep. If not, they could easily crash by the day's end.


If they are able to verbally communicate, some young babies and toddlers may even fight with you, insisting that they are not, indeed, tired. Especially if they are growing into their toddler-hood, often children begin to stand up for what they want and what they believe to be "right."

So, we must listen to their wishes, though calmly direct them where they need to be. If they are screaming "I am not tired," this may be simple sign that they are actually very, very tired. The more they rebel and insist, the clearer the sign that they are exhausted and may need a good rest.


Crying is a way of infancy. It's a way of toddler-hood. It's also the way of childhood, teenager-hood... it's actually essentially what you may hear from time to time throughout your entire Parenting Career. However, if your baby is crying more often than they usually do, something is up.

Whether they're teething, they're sick or they just had a previous day of total excitement, their brains may be so wired that they are absolutely exhausted. So, try and calm the child from their tears and allow them to take a rest. Yes, feeling sad is a way of life and it's totally okay to share (very important in fact). But, they may be overwhelmed with exhaustion and it could be the time to settle down to sleep.


If your child is at the age when they are either in the midst of potty-training or have been fully potty-trained, they often are not able to control their body when they are very, very tired. You may notice a pattern, too. If your toddler is refusing to nap and noticing they have an accident each time they stay awake, this could be a sign that it's not time to let them stay up.

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Accidents tend to happen when the child is relaxed. Perhaps watching TV, playing with their toys by themselves or in the car on a long drive. But, if they are happening when you believe they're overtired, they likely are. Settle them for a restful snooze; they'll likely be very happy once you do.


If you notice your child is a wee bit lethargic and not as full of energy as usual, they may be overtired. Even in young children, they will show you signs when they're not feeling themselves. Unless there are other symptoms which could indicate illness, being a bit more lazy is the opposite of that energy spike we spoke about earlier.

Both are very common, they just may not affect each and every child. Every child is different, and their signs of exhaustion are, too. So, if you notice your child is a bit more lazy than usual, they could be showing you one of the most obvious signs that they need a good lay down.


As a very common sign of exhaustion, this one can come quite frequently for young children. Considering the amount of naps that very small children can have in a day, yawns usually come after they wake up. So, if you are noticing a baby yawn between naps and not directly after they wake, this may show that they had an unsettled sleep or they need more.

Considering the amount of growing that they are doing in such a short amount of time, a bad sleep can come at any point in their little life. So, keep an eye out for yawns at odd times of the day. This could indicate a very sleepy baby.


Again, age permitting, slurring of words or a sudden stutter could indicate that your child is overtired. As children tend to begin to communicate as early as 12 months with words, when they begin to form real sentences it's easier to tell if they're overtired.

If they are suddenly having difficulty putting words together and speaking as they usually would, they could be exhausted. Keep an ear out for a sudden change in speech. If they're very sleepy, they'll likely have little energy to form proper sentence structures considering their exhaustion level.

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