Beyond the Obvious Baby Sleep Cues
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Yawn. An obvious sleep sign of your little one. Rubbing eyes, yawning, fussy...probably those too.
Every kid is different. But, are there others? Here is a list of sleep cues that I talk to parents about observing. Watch your kiddo tomorrow and see if you see any of these.
Let's start with the obvious one. A yawn, even a small one, means that your child is tired. Like all the sleep cues I'll mention below, waiting too long after sleep cues, results in a child that is over-tired.
Continuously not moving on to sleep after sleep cues, teaches your child to recognize sleep as being over-tired versus when they are newly tired.
2. Rubbing Eyes
A second obvious sleep sign is when a child rubs their eyes. Sometimes it may be hard to determine if it's just rubbing eyes because there's an itch or because it's tiredness.
When unsure, watch your child to see if they repeat the motion or if they have other signs of tiredness.
3. Dazed, Far Away Look
Let me mention here that there many times that a sleep cue can happen, right in the middle of play, and the child goes right back to play.
Don't assume that if they went right back to play, that your baby didn't "mean" this tired cue. A child lives in the moment. And this means that since their play is in the moment, they will put their focus on this, even if they are feeling newly tired.
A dazed, far-away look is a sleep cue. And one that is easily missed by parents. It can happen in a couple of seconds, where your child suddenly pauses from his/her activity and has a dazed look...then continues with whatever activity they were doing. This is still a sleep cue that should not be ignored.
When a young child is tired, they don't always know how to handle this feeling. One way they do it is by frowning expressions.
(Read related article: Working Parents and Bedtime Routines)
When you pay attention to your own self as a adult, when you're tired, notice what you do with your face...you too are likely to scrunch your eyebrows or frown when you're tired. When your child is frowning for no particular reason, there's a strong chance they are tired.
Sure, we all get fussy from time to time, but if your little one is getting fussy, don't just assume a reason for it (ie she doesn't want to be in the bouncy seat anymore or she wanted to get down...), as just like it is with you, getting easily irritated is a sign of tiredness.
6. Jerky Movements
Do you ever see your child making jerky movements that don't seem to make sense? Pair these with seeing any one of the sleep cues above and you can be sure that your child is tired.
Be on the look out for these, you may just find that your child has sleep cues you weren't aware of.
To learn more, sign up for the Practical Sleep Concepts for Healthy Sleep course.