How to Get an Overtired Baby to Sleep

An overtired adult might simply fall into bed without stirring to make up for lost sleep -- not so for an infant. When a baby becomes overtired, the opposite situation can occur, according to the Einstein Healthcare Network. An overtired baby may become overstimulated to the point where she cannot easily calm down and sleep 2. If your baby is overtired and having difficulty settling, you may need to give her extra soothing measures to help her sleep 2.

Remove sources of external stimulation to help calm your baby. Turn the lighting down low, take the baby to a quiet area without activity of other household members and eliminate stimulating background noise, such as television or conversation.

Wrap the baby in a thin receiving blanket to swaddle her. To swaddle, place the blanket on a firm surface (like a bed) so it looks like a diamond. Fold down the top corner and place the baby’s head above the folded edge of the blanket. Pull the left corner of the blanket over and around the baby snugly, fold up the bottom corner and wrap the remaining corner around the baby snugly. Some babies like their hands up near their face to enable sucking on fingers or thumbs, and other babies swaddle more effectively with arms down near their sides.

Engage in rhythmic motion with your baby to encourage sleep. This could include walking, rocking or bouncing your baby while holding her. You might also try placing your little one in a baby swing or a vibrating bouncy seat. Taking a walk in the stroller or even buckling the baby into the car seat for a car ride might also do the trick.

Expect your baby to wake again soon after falling asleep. It’s common for babies to startle and wake when they are overtired, according to Rene Rees, a registered nurse and midwife known as "Brisbane's Baby Whisperer." If your baby wakes and cries again, gauge the cry 2. If the cry sounds rhythmic and tired -- not intense and frantic -- monitor her to see if she falls asleep again within a few minutes. If the baby is becoming increasingly upset, you may need to go through the soothing methods a second time to get her back to sleep.


To avoid your baby becoming overtired, keep an eye out for signs of tiredness and put baby to bed as soon you see them. Common signs include yawning, rubbing eyes, jerky movements and mild fussing.