My baby is overtired

Francine Mels
Dream rhythm coach
6 min

If your baby is overtired, you will quickly find yourself in a downward spiral. The naps are shorter, your baby has less energy to drink, he cries more and falls asleep more difficult.

Do you want to know how to get out of this vicious circle? Then read on!

Why overtired?

You think you're taking it easy and you don't plan too many activities in one day. And yet your baby is overtired. How is that possible?

Think about the following.

Your baby has been in mom's belly for 9 months. That was a protected cocoon in which it was dark and the sound was muffled.

Then your baby is born and suddenly everything is different. The light is bright, the sounds are loud. That's a lot of stimulus for your little one. And on top of that, your baby can't filter these stimuli yet. He doesn't know yet what is and isn't important. So it's not surprising that this quickly becomes too much.

Your baby gets overstimulated and overtired. A baby who is overtired sleeps less, is therefore not rested, then has little energy to drink, does not feel well, cries more and then has difficulty falling asleep again. In short: you are in a downward spiral.

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Growing is top sport

Your baby desperately needs sleep to grow properly. During sleep, new brain cells are created that ensure the growth and development of your baby. This growing takes a lot of energy. Just like top sport. A good night's sleep is at the top of the list for top athletes for a reason!

But what is good sleep and how much sleep does your baby really need? To answer this question, you need to look not only at the amount of sleep, but also at the quality.

In the first year, babies need an average of 14-16 hours of sleep per day. Exactly how many hours this is, differs per baby.

Does your baby sleep less than 14 hours? Then he's just sleep deprived and he's probably overtired.

You also want good quality sleep. You get that when you sleep a full sleep cycle: all sleep phases are then completed. A baby's sleep cycle is 45 minutes. Does he sleep less? Then he does not wake up fully rested.

How can you help your baby?

To break this vicious circle, it is important to offer your baby peace, rhythm and regularity. That may sound old-fashioned, but it works! Rest ensures that your child is less likely to become overstimulated. Rhythm and regularity ensure predictability. This way your baby knows what's coming. That feels safe and familiar. In addition, your baby is also better able to filter all those stimuli that come at him. Because what you keep repeating he recognizes better and better and that is apparently important.

Do you want to know exactly how sleeping works for a baby and do you want practical tools that help you sleep better? Sign up for the free sleep guide. All the advice in this guide has been proven effective. So it really works!

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0-2 weeks
45 minutes
4-8 p.m
2 weeks - 2 months
First 60 minutes,
later 75-90 minutes
4 to 8
3-4 pm
2-4 months
75-90 minutes
4 to 6
2-4 pm
4-6 months
90 minutes
4 to 5
2-4 pm
6-8 months
2 hours - 90 minutes - 90 minutes - (90 minutes) - 3 hours
3 to 4
2-4 pm
8-12 months
2 hours - 3 hours - 3 hours - 3 hours or 2 hours - 3 hours - 4 hours
2 to 3
2-3 pm
0-2 months:
Red light
Do not do or introduce new things. your baby is starting his first development phase (orientation) and is working on his basic attachment. He gets a circadian rhythm at the age of six weeks, which changes everything into sleeping country. Lay a foundation for good sleeping habits: avoid too many stimuli, pay attention to waking times (75-90 minutes) and keep everything predictable: sleeping becomes predictable for your baby.
2-4 months:
green light
Here you enter calmer waters. Work on good sleeping habits and ensure a nice rhythm, paying attention to waking times (45-75-90 minutes). You can also use a bedtime ritual, this doesn't have to be long as long as it's the same every time. By always using the same bedtime ritual, your baby knows what's coming and he gets into a rhythm more easily.
4-6 months:
Red light
The first sleep regression moment is here. Your baby is also entering the second stage of development and needs predictable responses. Sleep patterns change. Poultry and wet is the motto here, make sure you don't 'make' too many undesirable sleep associations and keep an eye on the waking times that come with this age (90 minute rhythm).
6-8 months:
green light
Although this phase is better, it is not going very smoothly yet and that has everything to do with the previous phase. But this is a moment when the waters are calming down again. Time to work well on the sleep basis and you do that by working with longer waking times in the morning and afternoon, you keep the waking times of 2 hours in the morning, 90 minutes in between and 3 hours in the evening.
8-12 months:
Red light
The second sleep regression moment has arrived. So this is somewhere between 8 and 12 months (and really not four months long). This regression is one of the worst times to work on sleep. Both in its development and attachment, your baby is also going to a new phase. This regression moment has everything to do with sleep consolidation, the merging of sleeping hours. Your baby will simply sleep better/longer at night, just like grown-ups do, and will therefore need fewer hours during the day. So 2-3 hours during the day (during 2-3 naps) is fine. If you follow the 2-3-4 rhythm, you won't get a 'sleep strike' either.
And after that?
Make sure your baby is and stays comfortable in the 2-3-4 Rhythm, which starts around the age of eight months and works for a while! And think: how beautiful this really is. That a baby is so predictable, so perfect, so beautiful. That one baby is really not the other, but growing and blooming, the elusive changes, just goes so nicely in steps. How beautiful is it that a little one is born with a different sleeping brain, precisely so that he can be fed more often and cannot go to sleep too deep (dangerously). That those sleeps are there during the day, are necessary and made possible, precisely to be able to process and grow.

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