How does overtiredness affect your baby?

Your baby has had an intensive day and yet you can't get him to sleep. Does this sound familiar? It may seem contradictory, but an overtired baby often has difficulty sleeping. Being overtired has a major impact on how your baby feels. In this article you can read exactly how this works, how you can recognize fatigue signals and what you can do to prevent overtiredness..

Forewarning: every baby reacts differently to stress and fatigue. Every baby is different, has its own needs and communicates in its own way. Take the time to get to know your baby better and understand that you have to find a way together that works for you. With that in mind, it is interesting to delve deeper into the world of fatigue. Read on quick!

Overtiredness: a biochemical challenge

Excessive fatigue goes beyond just a lack of rest. Excessive fatigue leads to increased production of cortisol, better known as the stress hormone. This hormone, which normally helps the body deal with stressful situations, can go into overdrive when overtired. This not only affects your baby's response to the world around them, but also their physical and emotional well-being.

Signs of an overtired baby

A baby who is overtired is likely to suffer from high cortisol levels. How can you recognize when this is happening? Pay attention to these instructions::

  • Tearfulness. An overtired baby may become upset more quickly and cry more than normal because cortisol affects emotion regulation.
  • Difficulty falling asleep. The increased cortisol levels can make falling asleep a lot more difficult, even if your baby seems exhausted.
  • Irregular sleep patterns. Excessive fatigue can lead to disruptions in sleep patterns, with more nighttime awakenings as a result of the disturbed biorhythm.

The impact of overtiredness on development

In the short term you will notice that your child is not happy and has difficulty sleeping. But what is the impact in the longer term? This is how overtiredness affects your baby's development::

  • Impaired cognitive development. An overproduction of cortisol can affect cognitive development, which can translate to reduced learning and memory performance.
  • Emotional turmoil. Being overtired has a major impact on your baby's emotional well-being. For example, it can lead to mood swings and emotional unrest.
  • Physical health. The immune system can suffer from over-tiredness, which can affect your baby's overall health. Your baby will then become ill more quickly or have more difficulty recovering from illness.

Tips to prevent overtiredness

We now understand how overtiredness affects your baby's body. But how can you prevent your baby from becoming overtired? Some practical tips:: 

1. Create regularity. A consistent sleep schedule can help regulate the body's stress response. By doing the same actions in the same order every day, your baby will recognize the ritual and will be able to relax more easily.

2. De-stimulate before going to sleep. Start removing stimuli half an hour in advance. No toys, no conversations, no telephone, no TV, but pure peace. Soft music or soft humming is fine, but make sure there are few stimuli.

3. Signaling fatigue. Learn to recognize the signals of fatigue and respond in time to minimize stress. Some signs of fatigue are rubbing the eyes, restless behavior or slow movements, yawning, fiddling with the ears and feeling drowsy.

4. Optimal sleeping environment. Create a calm sleep environment to reduce stressors and distractions. Also make sure it is dark when your baby needs to go to sleep. The ideal temperature for the baby's room is between 18 and 20 degrees.

5. Parent-baby bonding. When your baby is stressed, he needs a lot of reassurance. Therefore, provide sufficient comfort and closeness to lower cortisol levels.

6. Take good care of yourself. A balanced parent is better able to reduce stress in the baby. Therefore, take good care not only of your children, but also of yourself!



Frederieke Meihuizen

Owner Fedde&Kees®

Ik ben Frederieke, getrouwd met Ewoud en mama van 4 kindjes. Na op veel plekken gewoond te hebben, ben ik gesetteld in Nieuwkoop. Ik werkte in de commercie tot mijn vierde kindje geboren werd. Fedde was een huilbaby en vanuit deze wanhoop heb ik de producten van Fedde&Kees bedacht. Ik gooide mijn leven om en begon met ondernemen. Sinds 2018 help ik andere ouders naar een betere slaap!