The signs of an overtired baby are clear: clinginess, crying, rubbing the eyes or face, turning away from stimulation, and yawning or hiccupping. Most moms try to avoid letting their baby get overtired, but even the best moms have to handle an overtired baby at least once. Whether this is your first time or your hundredth, there are some great ways to settle your baby for sleep. Check out these four savvy mommy tips to settle an overtired baby.
Stomach to Stomach
Hold your baby on their side with their tummy against you. This helps create connection between the two of you, which helps them feel safe and secure. This also allows your baby to feel your heartbeat, which can soothe and calm them. The feeling of safety from being so close to you, combined with feeling (and hearing) your heartbeat, can soothe them until they fall asleep. You can do this standing, sitting, rocking, or lying down. One key, however, is not to be too active. You want your heartbeat to stay relatively slow and steady.
Swaddling a baby creates an environment that reminds them of the womb. Being tightly wrapped up and unable to stretch out makes babies feel secure. They're less likely to startle awake, too. Stash swaddling blankets around the house, in your diaper bag, in the car, and with caregivers you regularly leave your baby with. This ensures no matter where you are when your baby starts showing signs of overtiredness, you can quickly grab a blanket, swaddle them, and help them drift off to sleep.
Rocking babies to sleep is a classic, but it's also backed by science. It's called the vestibular calming effect. Think of this as being like a volume control button. Quick up and down motions, or swinging the head around, tends to wake you up or energize you. But slower rocking head movements, or keeping the head completely still, has a calming effect. What's even better is that you can combine rocking with all the other tips here for maximum effect.
When your baby was still in your womb, they grew used to lots of noise. Conversation, traffic, TV, music, and more would swirl around them as they slept or played inside you. Once they're born, we try to make things as quiet as possible for them to sleep, but that might backfire. Try playing some white noise instead. Go with basic swooshing noises, like a heartbeat, for the best effect. Use a machine that won't automatically shut off while your baby is sleeping.
Soothing an overtired baby can be stressful. But the more stressed you feel, the more your baby will react to that. When you know your baby is overtired, take a deep breath, choose a tip, and know that your baby will fall asleep, even if it takes a little longer. Do your best to relax and let your baby take that cue from you.