Are you reading your child’s tired signs?

Are you reading your child’s tired signs?

Reading your child’s tired signs can be a great skill to have, even if you already have them on a good daytime schedule. Children are individuals who can have variations in their days just like adults. It’s not uncommon to be more tired when teething or sick, or when catching up on a bad night.

If you know when your child is tired, you can put them down for an earlier nap or bedtime and thus prevent overtiredness, which really is the enemy of sleep.

Newborns and Infants

Young infants obviously can’t tell us verbally when they’re feeling tired, but they do send out a number of cues that you can catch if you know what you’re looking for.

While there are obvious signs like yawning or crying, not all babies display the same signals, so you need to keep your eyes peeled for subtler clues like:

● Squirming or arching their back
● Clenching fists
● Rubbing their eyes or ears (when older)
● Pulling their knees to their chest

● Turning away from stimulation

The challenge with newborns and infants is that they also use similar signals to convey a number of different messages, so it’s important to take into account how long it’s been since their last sleep, when they last ate, and any other irritants (wind or pain for example) that they might be trying to communicate to you.

A good schedule from early on makes this much easier.


Toddlers, on the other hand, often CAN tell you when they’re feeling tired. But they don’t want to, so they hardly ever do. They would typically prefer to do anything besides go to bed, and they’ll deny being tired right up until the point where they collapse.

So, just like with younger babies, you may have to invest in a little detective work to see if it’s time for a snooze. Toddler signs to look for include…

● Short temper
● Tugging on hair and/or ears
● Fussiness and irritability

● Clumsiness and lack of coordination

With toddlers it’s important to look for tired signs, because trying to put them down too early can cause them to get frustrated and develop a negative association with bedtime.

On the other hand, having a wait and see attitude without picking up on their signs can result in overtiredness, which looks like a second wind but leads to problems getting to sleep and falling asleep. Alternatively they will just collapse (fall asleep) on the couch which can result in a poor quality short nap at the most inconvenient time.


Really, prevention is your best defence against a tired, cranky child, so making their sleep schedule a priority is the best idea.

As your child grows older, he or she will need less sleep and it can really help to pick up on their visual cues to know whether she’s genuinely growing out of her nap, or if she’s just fighting it to stay up and play.


What do you think? Does your child have traditional tired signs? Let me know what you look for in your family.

And as always if you and your little one are having trouble with naps, bedtimes, or any other sleep-related issues, contact me! Or, go straight to booking  a free initial call HERE. And follow me on Facebook and Instagram for sleep tips and fun facts too!

Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!