Baby Sleep Deprivation: What Are The Signs?

Baby Sleep Deprivation: What Are The Signs?

If you are feeling bleary-eyed and tempted to pour yourself an extra cup of coffee in the morning, chances are you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. You know it will take some extra effort to pull yourself together and get through the day. 

During the early stages of parenthood, you’re all too aware that you’re not getting sufficient sleep, but determining where your new baby is sleeping properly can be the real challenge. Having adequate sleep is essential to your baby’s health and well-being. 

So, how can you tell the signs of baby sleep deprivation? 

Is Your Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

Let’s look at the sleep requirements that your baby will need depending on their age. Every baby’s natural sleep cycle is unique, so these are the general average for sleeping time per day for your baby’s particular age.

  • 0 - 3 months = 16 -- 17 hours 
  • 4 - 6 months = 14 – 15 hours
  • 6 - 12 months = 13 -- 14 hours

These hours also include nap times during the day. As your baby gets older, they will gradually (or with help from you) start to sleep more during the night than the day. 

If your baby is not getting enough sleep per day, they can become overtired and seem like they are sleep deprived. Sleep is important for everyone, but especially for your baby as they have a lot of growing to do.

Signs That Your Baby Needs More Sleep

Have you ever been stressed and exhausted at the same time? You have a to-do list that seems a mile long, and you know that if you could just get a small afternoon nap in that you would feel refreshed and ready to tackle some of the things on your to-do list. 

The baby is being watched by someone else, so you have the opportunity to nap! You set an alarm, put on comfy clothes, and lay down. Now that you are ready for some shut eye, you cannot seem to shut your eyes and fall asleep.

Stress in our body can have an impact on our sleep due to cortisol and adrenaline, which our body produces when we are stressed. 

Cortisol can keep you awake and adrenaline helps you to focus (also known as the “fight-or flight” hormone). If these hormones are present in your body, it is going to be tough trying to get some shut eye. Thus, begins the cycle of being too stressed to sleep, not getting enough sleep, and then becoming more stressed because you couldn’t sleep. 

Your baby can also go through these cycles if they are overtired. Their little bodies also produce cortisol and adrenaline when they are past their regular bedtime. Just like adults, these hormones can make it hard for your baby to settle down. 

When it comes to overtiredness, it is best to try to catch on to your baby’s signs that they are tired and go through the steps on going to sleep. Common signs may include:

  • Clinginess 
  • Yawning
  • Rubbing eyes or tugging at ears
  • Changes in behaviors
  • Fatigue

As your baby moves from just being tired to overtired, the signs will become more evident:

  • Excessive yawning, rubbing eyes, and tugging at ears
  • Fussiness and crying
  • Difficult to soothe
  • Short naps
  • Refusing a bottle (if you think your baby is hungry)

Helping Your Baby Get To Sleep

Once your baby is overtired, it can be a cycle that is hard to get out of. Your baby may take a short nap, and then be wide awake. Although they did sleep, this isn’t enough to help satisfy their poor sleep loss and the difficult-to-soothe fussiness may rear its ugly head again. This short nap would not have allowed your baby to reach the deep stages of sleep that they need for growth. 

Your baby may be feeling irritable and grouchy. Of course, your baby cannot tell you how they feel in words, so crying is the method of communication used to show their unhappiness. 

Helping your baby get to sleep during these trying times can wear the most patient parents down to also feeling irritable and grouchy. We’ve been there too, and we can say that it will get better with some patience and love. 

Here are some tips to help your little one get the rest they so desperately need. 

Being Proactive

Noticing your baby’s tired cues and laying them down to sleep right away is best before they reach that overtired stage. Try to start writing down the times you notice these cues, and see if you can spot a pattern emerge. 

Luckily, you’ll see a pattern of when your baby starts to feel signs of sleepiness. You can use these patterns to your advantage and start the process of laying your baby down as they are getting sleepy. 


For some parents, swaddling is an absolute blessing in helping your little one fall asleep and stay asleep when they are overtired. Swaddling helps to mimic the feeling of comfort and coziness of the womb, and your baby feels safe and secure.

When swaddling it’s important to remember to not swaddle your baby too tight. You should be able to fit a few of your fingers in between the blanket and your baby. Also, pay attention to the temperature. If it is chilly, your baby will be snug and warm with a thicker blanket. However, if it is warm outside, swaddle your baby with a thinner blanket, like thin cotton or muslin. These breathable fabrics help to keep your baby cool, but also snug. If your little one is too hot or too cold, they may have a tough time trying to fall asleep.

You may want to exchange the swaddle for a sleep sack if your baby has started to roll from their back to their tummies. Sleepsacks will keep your baby cozy and safe from any breathing difficulties they may face if they were to roll on their tummy while swaddled. 


When your little one is overtired and needs some help relaxing, movement can help them. If your baby is exhibiting the symptoms of being overtired, cortisol may keep them feeling wired although their body is exhausted. A calming movement may be helpful to combat the effects of cortisol.

Try holding your baby and swaying in place, this may be just enough movement for your baby to start feeling drowsy. A method often utilized by new moms and dads is taking a spin around the block with your baby strapped safely and securely in their car seat. 

The gentle motion in the car and the white noise of driving is often enough to help your baby feel relaxed and go to sleep. Be sure to transfer your baby to a safe sleeping space though, as a car seat is not designed for hours of sleep.

Sleepy Environment

If your baby is wound up from being overly tired, try making the environment more conducive to sleeping. Dim the lights, adjust the temperature so that it is cooler, play soothing music or use a white noise machine to help self soothe.

You can also help make the environment soothing by using Little Yawn Collective’s Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray. The spray is infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance, featuring scents like organic lavender and cold-pressed bergamot to create an environment that helps with falling asleep and staying asleep.

Calming Bath Time

A warm, soothing bath may be just the thing to help soothe a fussy baby, especially if they are a fan of bathtime. Warm bubbles and the undivided attention of a parent can help relax a fussy, overtired baby. 

Little Yawn Collective’s Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula helps cleanse your little one from tip to toe. Calendula and chamomile are gentle and soothing for your baby’s sensitive skin. Just like our pillow and linen spray, this product is also infused with our NaturalSnooze fragrance.

After a nice, warm bath, you can give your baby a relaxing massage with our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter. With your soothing touch, your baby will be encouraged to let their little body relax and get snoozy.

Daytime to Nighttime

This solution is more of a long-term than short-term fix. If your baby seems overtired during certain times of the day, this could be attributed to your baby’s circadian rhythm not being aligned with the day and night. You can help correct this by exposing your baby to as much natural light during the day as possible. 

You can take your baby on walks outside when the weather is decent. However, don’t place them under direct sunlight, though. Your dog or cat may like to sunbathe, but your baby has sensitive skin and may get overheated. 

Don’t try to tiptoe around during the day, keep normal household noises like the dishwasher or washing machine running to “normalize” your daily routine at home. During the night, try to keep things as dim and quiet as possible, especially if your baby wakes up to feed or for a diaper change during night wakings.

Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine is key in being proactive in preventing overtiredness from taking over your baby. Even if your little one is fighting sleep, keep up the good fight and go through your bedtime schedule like normal. Your baby is used to these steps, and may find this routine comforting and start to relax. 

You can feed the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula at the first waking to help give you both a solid chunk of sleep during the first portion of the night. 

Adjust your baby’s bedtime routine to better meet their needs as needed. If they seem too overtired by the time bedtime comes, adjust your baby’s bedtime by putting them down a few minutes earlier each night until you’ve reached the perfect new bedtime. 

Still Having Sleep Challenges?

If your baby is still having trouble sleeping, chances are they may be teething or feeling ill. Be sure to check for any incoming pearly whites trying to make their way through, showing mood changes, lack of appetite, or signals that your little one isn’t feeling their best.

After all attempts to create a positive bedtime routine and following suggestions for your baby to fall asleep, it may be time to visit your baby’s pediatrician. Their pediatrician can evaluate your baby and determine if there are any underlying causes as to why your baby is not getting adequate sleep. 

Although not common, obstructive sleep apnea can throw a wrench in sleeping patterns. Swollen tonsils or adenoids can cause this type of sleep apnea in children. The airway may become blocked, and breathing through the nose can cause snoring. 

In order to properly breathe while sleeping, you may see your baby sleeping in different positions for optimal nasal breathing. 

This is just one example of a sleep disorder that may affect young children. Your pediatrician will know what to look for and seek out a solution to have your little one on the path to dreamland once again. 

Bedtime Can Be Challenging, But We’re Here to Help

At Little Yawn Collective, we know that bedtime can be tough on a normal day. If your baby is experiencing symptoms of overtiredness, bedtime can seem impossible. We are here to help with our melatonin-free sleep products, and assist you in building the most effective bedtime routine for your baby. 

We know that consistent bedtime routines are the best bet in helping your baby have healthy sleep habits. Although each baby’s sleep routine may be different, you are helping meet your baby’s needs and helping them get the adequate rest they need as their little minds grow. 

Little Yawn Collective can help make bedtime a breeze for you and your baby. 


Swaddling: Is it Safe? - 

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need? |

Common Sleep Disorders in Children | American Family Physician

The 6 Best Ways to Make Your Baby Tired (and 3 Things NOT to Do) | Cleveland Clinic

Newborn-Sleep Patterns | Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


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