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How to Know When Baby is Tired by Using Sleep Cues
A sleep cue is something your baby does that indicates he/she is tired and ready to go to sleep. If you are lucky, your baby will give you consistent cues to let you know when it is time to go down for a nap. Some babies and moms are so efficient at communicating these cues with each other that there is no need for a clock. For others, the clock/cue combo does wonders.
Let me reiterate the importance of getting the waketime length correct. Your baby will sleep much better if you get her down on time. Your baby will also cry least (if you are doing cry it out) if you get down at the right time. Figuring these cues out will really help you get it right. There are several posts on the subject if you need more convincing: see Easy Nap Fix.
Baby Sleep Cues List
Here is a list of some sample cues. I am sure there are many, many more out there:
- Fussiness. This was my son’s cue. He’d start to get fussy, I’d look at the clock, and sure enough. It was time for a nap.
- Yawning. This was my daughter’s nap cue for a while. For her, it was one nap. Some moms have said three yawns.
- Red around the eyes. My son also had this for a while.
- Rubbing eyes. My daughter has recently picked this one up.
- Naughtiness. This is more a cue for older children. My son now will get naughty if he is overdue for sleep.
- Hard to please. Some babies get impossible to entertain. This would be similar to fussiness, though baby might not be fussy.
You do need to combine these cues with the clock. Take your baby’s age into account and also normal naptime. Around 2 months old, Kaitlyn dropped all cues all together until recently (11 months). So I had to go by the clock only.
For my kids, naptime is naptime. Their naptimes are at the same time each day. Brayden’s (nearly 3) is the most concrete. Kaitlyn’s can flex a little, but never vary by more than 15 minutes.
If you are having a hard time figuring your child’s cues out, a log can be handy to track what you saw and the results of that cue. Good luck!
- ProudMum said…
This is great blog. I think all problem of my baby naps lie in waketime. 1. when u say stay happily , it means if I play with her, she will create fuss? but I think she starts to play happily. I am so confused about her nap cues, which I think getting fussy. around 6 or 7 she wakes up for first feed then stay awake at bed for one hour and then sleep and she awake around 9:15. she sleep at night at 8:15. after 12 hrs sleep still she needs nap after 1 hour? As I put her down after 2 hrs and my whole days r bad abd baby is cranky. Do babies cry if I put them earlier for nap? she just sleeps for 35 mins for napand cries all day
July 12, 2008 1:42 PM
1. Not totally. Some babies will fuss if they are bored with what is going on or if it is simply too much. But yes, after 12 hours of sleep, she still needs a nap after 1 hour. That will eventually lengthen out, but is totally normal right now.2 hours is most likely too long for her at this age. If it is too early, they usually play. If she is waking after 35 minutes, she most likely needs a shorter waketime. Try 1 hour waketimes and see how it goes.
July 14, 2008 10:56 AM
Related Baby Sleep Posts:
- The Big List of Sleep Training Resources
- The Cornerstone for Good Naps
- Nap Hints
- Importance of the First Nap
- Optimal Internal Temp=Optimal Sleep
- Should you wake up a sleeping child?
- Sleep Begets Sleep
- The Sun and Sleep
- Timing the First Nap
- Waking Up Happy
- Why Have Naps?
If you need help solving nap problems, get my eBook, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide. This book helps you establish successful naps from birth through the preschool years. You can buy it here and get an instant download.
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