Oops! This browser is no longer supported. Please switch to a supported browser to continue using Bub Hub.

Useful? Share it!

Baby and toddler tired signs and how to recognise them

Sleeping baby rubbing his eyesRecognising your baby’s tired signs is one of the key ways to help your baby settle to sleep more easily.

Babies can become overtired quite quickly so it is important to watch them for the telltale signs of tiredness before they become irritable and overstimulated. It is not easy to settle a cranky baby.

Some of the baby and toddler tired signs are quite obvious—such as yawning or thumbsucking—but others are not as easy to recognise. It is important to watch your own child to see which of the following tired signs they exhibit.

Recognising your baby’s tired signs can also prevent you from trying to settle a baby who isn’t ready for a nap. No one wants to go to sleep when they’re not tired!

Consider this situation—your baby usually goes down for a nap about 9am but has lately started fighting sleep at this time. Maybe they are ready for a later nap or moving towards having just one nap a day? By watching your baby for tired signs (rather than watching the clock) this transition will be a smoother one.

What are the common baby tired signs

Tired signs—babies

A newborn baby cannot stay awake for very long before they become over tired. You should start to watch for these tired signs within an hour of your baby being awake, it will help you survive your baby’s first few weeks.

As a baby grows they are able to stay awake for longer periods of time.

In very general terms, if your baby is 3-6 months old you should start watching for tired signs after about 1hour 30mins (although at this age they might have at least one longer stretch of awake time each day—about 3 hours—without becoming overtired).

A baby aged 6-12 months can perhaps go for 2 or 3 hours before exhibiting these tired signs.

HUBBER’S TIP: “My daughter is 10wks old and she yawns, rubs eyes, goes quiet and lastly she has what I call a fake cry, where she just makes a ‘huh huh’ noise with no tears.” – poppyseed

Early signs that your baby is starting to get tired:

  • Looking glazed, losing their sparkle
  • Frowning
  • Not maintaining eye contact with you and looking away for brief moments
  • Hiccups
  • Red eye brows

Late tired signs when your baby is starting to become overtired:

  • Yawning
  • Jerky movements and becoming uncoordinated (in an older baby)
  • Fist clenching
  • Fussing
  • Not wanting to be put down
  • Becoming revved up and over excited
  • Grizzling and crying
HUBBER’S TIP: “My son is 8 months old. He sucks two of his fingers and then starts to twirl the one curl he has behind his right ear, then if I pick him up he will rest his gorgeous little head on my shoulder and off to nigh nighs!” – Amajai

Tired signs—toddlers

An overtired toddler is not a fun person to be around! But at least by this age you probably are quite good at recognising their tired signs. Up until about 14-18 months many children will still need a morning and afternoon nap to avoid becoming overtired but many will drop to one nap a day around this time.

It is good to keep an eye on your toddler’s specific tired signs so the transition from two naps to one (and, in time, none) will be smooth.

  • Yawning
  • Asking for dummy or other sleep aid
  • Increased clumsiness
  • Thumb sucking
  • Eye rubbing
  • Lying on the floor (to play or rest)
  • Cuddliness
  • Increase in frustration
  • Extra silly
  • Extra giggly
  • Extra clingy
  • Bored
  • Whingy
  • Fussy with food
HUBBER’S TIP: “My son is 15 months and when he’s tired he’ll do the usual rubbing of his eyes, but mostly he will start falling over a lot—like he’s drunk.” – Miska25

If you are experiencing sleep issues, or have had success with baby sleep and want to share what you’ve learned, chat about baby sleep and settling issues with other mums and dads in the Bub Hub Forum Sleep and Settling section 24/7.

Baby and toddler tired signs and how to recognise them

About Bub Hub

Our Bub Hub team is in the thick of the sleep deprivation, tantrums and unconditional love that comes with parenting. Plus, with the support of Mater, we have unvetted access to the minds of Australia’s leading ...

Post your comment

Comment Guidelines : Play nice! We welcome opinions, discussion and compliments. Especially compliments. But remember: the person on the other side of the computer screen is someone's mum, brother, nan or highly intelligent but opinionated cat. We don't tolerate nastiness or bullying. We'll delete disrespectful comments and any replies to them. more

Thank you for contributing to our website.

Your comments must be relevant to the topic and must not be added with the purpose of causing harm or hurt.

We reserve the right to remove your comments if they:

  • Defame any person
  • Breach any person's confidentiality
  • Breach any person's intellectual property rights
  • Breach privacy laws
  • Breach anti-discrimination laws
  • Contains links, advertising or spam
  • Stalk, harrass or bully a person
  • Promote or encourage an illegal act
  • Contain course language or content

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you have a Gravatar, it will appear next to your comments. Read more about Gravatars here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

1 Comment so far -
  • Adrienne says:

    totally true. Missing the tired window is the worst mistake. Had never hear about the pink/red eyes before but it’s totally true for my almost 3 month old!

Back to Top