We all possess a natural sleep rhythm. When our sleep schedules get off track, people of all ages become super cranky. While at first, your overtired toddler may seem happy and suddenly re-energized, they can soon become a force to be reckoned with.
We all produce different hormones during the day than we do at night. When it is time to sleep, the body releases certain hormones to help us get the rest we need. If we miss the opportunity to sleep, the body assumes there is a good reason we need to be awake and begins releasing daytime hormones again. This is what creates that second wind people appear to get when they are overtired.
Creating a sleep schedule that meets their normal needs and sticking to it, is at the foundation of all healthy sleep habits. That said, it's important to be prepared when your child has an extra busy day and needs to sleep a little sooner than normal. Get to know the behaviors your baby or toddler exhibits when they are tired so that you can prevent over-tiredness and of course that second wind.
Signs your toddler is tired might include:
- becoming more clumsy than usual
- unusual picky eating
- boredom with activities or toys they usually enjoy
- acting clingy
- crying and whining
- constant demands for attention
When young babies and newborns are tired, they may:
- pull at their ears
- suck on hands or fingers (this may also mean they are hungry but if they have been fed, it can be a sign of self-soothing)
- keep their fists tight
- have trouble controlling their eyes (they may go cross-eyed or stare into space)
- arch their back or flail their limbs
- frown or look worried
Get to know the specific behaviors that your child exhibits when they are starting to get sleepy. Every child is a little different. With time you will get to know your child’s individual cues.
If you do find yourself with an overtired baby or toddler because you missed bedtime, or your child has had a more active day than they usually do, you will experience more success putting them to sleep if you create some quiet time first. Quiet time may include stories, soft songs, low lighting, cuddles, or even playing a quiet game together. Even just a few extra minutes of quiet time should help them to relax and get their little body get back on track.