Sleep Cues from the Baby Whisperer

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Sleep Cues from the Baby Whisperer. A list of sleep cues found in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg.

Baby sleeping in a hat on white bedding with mouth open

Watching for sleep cues is a very helpful way to know when your baby is ready for a nap. This is vital for understanding when baby should optimally go down for a nap. Here are 16 cues from Tracy Hogg in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer that show your baby is ready to go to sleep (found on page 177). I have also listed additional cues found in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (page 181).

As you consult this list, pay attention to what actually works for your baby and what does not. I found for some of my children, a yawn was a cue that it was time for a nap. For others, it was a cue that I had missed the perfect window. Take notes (you can purchase my comprehensive Book of Logs here). Study your notes and see what works for baby and what does not. When you take notes, you can look at the overview and see if baby actually sleeps well when you follow the cue you are following.

If baby does not sleep well, try a different cue. Figuring out baby’s sleep is very much a process that works well with the scientific method closely followed.

  • Yawning.
  • Fussing.
  • Fidgeting.
  • Opening eyes wide.
  • Making sounds like a creaking door.
  • Squeaking.
  • Turning head from objects or people.
  • Burying face in your chest.
  • Involuntary movements with arms and legs.
  • Rubbing eyes.
  • Pulling at ears.
  • Scratching face.
  • Less coordination.
  • Lose interest in toys.
  • Arching back and leaning backward.
  • Falling while walking or bumping into things.

This list moves from younger baby up through older baby. If you have a newborn, look at the top portion of the list. Work your way down to consult the list as your baby gets older.

Read How To Know When Baby is Tired by Using Sleep Cues

16 Sleep Cues that tell you baby is ready for a nap with a picture of a sleeping baby on white bedding
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Reader Comments/Advice:

  • Emily said…
    That is so funny, when my daughter is tired she’ll pull her ear, fall a lot and cry when it actually didn’t hurt (this is her best cue), or rub eyes. She was right on with my daughter!
    October 2, 2008 1:46 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Emily, thanks for sharing that. I think it is always good to get a list of cues from other moms so people can be more likely to recognize the cues in their kids.
    October 6, 2008 2:57 PM

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 26, 2010 / 3:51 AM

    Hi! This blog is amazing! I check it almost every day since I'm a first time mum of a 3 week old and for the past week or so I've been really struggling with working out my baby's nap cues. Quite a few times after I've fed him (which generally takes about 30 minutes) he starts getting fussy after only about a minute or two and then I see him yawn so I put him down and generally he cries for about 5 minutes and then he starts to fall asleep and then 3 minutes later I check and he's contently wide awake and he stays awake for about 5 – 10 minutes more and then the crying begins again for about 3-4 minutes and then he starts to fall asleep and then 5 minutes later he's contently awake again .. this cycle can continue for about an hour when I put him down .. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing wrong because he's fussy straight after I've finished feeding & burping I've made sure when I put him down that his diaper is clean, and he's burped and the temp is good in the room but I have no idea why he just stays awake when he looks really tired to me and he's only been awake sometimes for 35 minutes when I put him down ??Also sometimes after this cycle has continued a few times he contently falls asleep without a peep and other times he cries til he's alseep (generally no longer than 3 mintues)I thought I had his nap cues right but he rarely goes straight to sleep and if not then I can't work out why he is always crying after feeding and burping and diaper change?Any advice??

  2. Plowmanators
    September 7, 2010 / 9:22 PM

    Tara Terry,His behavior sounds like he is overly tired. Check out the "optimal waketime" blog label for help in that area. I would look into reflux. Some of what you described sounds like he might have reflux.I would also suggest you see the label "4 S's" for a post on helping baby go to sleep peacefully.

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