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Sleepy Cues

Have you heard of sleepy cues/ tired cues when it comes to baby sleep? Sleepy cues are signs your baby or toddler may show when they are getting tired. These can be physical or emotional cues. There are different cues that indicate when they are getting tired, already tired, or overtired. Hint- crying and yawning aren’t early sleepy cues! Your little one’s sleepy cues will be unique to them as well as their sleep needs and ideal wake times. This is why it’s so important to tune into your little one and learn their cues!

Sleepy cues can help you learn to tune into your unique little one and learn their ideal wake times, as well as get to know their unique sleep needs. We oftentimes miss early sleepy cues that our little one is showing as they are getting tired. This can lead to an overtired baby. When they reach this point, their stress hormones (cortisol) will start rising, which may make it even harder for them to settle down and fall asleep!

Remember that your little one may or may not show all of the following cues.

Early Sleepy Cues- These are signs baby is getting tired:

  • Red eyebrows

  • Glossy eyes

  • Staring off into space

  • Disengaged in play

  • Sucking on hands

  • Whining (not crying)

  • Slower/ jerky movements

  • Clingy

  • Rooting

  • Nuzzling into you

  • Pulling at ears

  • Avoiding eye contact

I am Tired Cues- These are signs baby is already tired:

  • Crying

  • Yawning

  • Rubbing eyes

  • Trying to keep themselves busy

  • Needing more movement (swinging, rocking, bouncing)

  • Laughing or babbling a lot

Overtired Cues- These are signs baby is overtired:

  • Inconsolable crying

  • Arching back/ pushing away from you

  • Frantic/ unable to latch for feed

  • Refusing to eat

  • Difficulty staying still

  • Frustrated

  • Searching for more support to settle

While the goal of sleepy cues is to get your little one down before they’re overtired, don’t let them stress you out! If you happen to miss their sleepy cues it’s ok! Just focus on supporting them to sleep as soon as you notice. Some children may also have very subtle sleepy cues that are hard to recognize early. Follow your instincts and tune into your unique little one!


Little Bean Sleep

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