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Signs a Baby Is Overtired

author image Kristie Jernigan
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.
Signs a Baby Is Overtired
A baby boy crying Photo Credit: LuminaStock/iStock/Getty Images

According to Baby Care Advice, babies who become overtired often have difficulty “switching off.” Babies can become overtired for different reasons, which include too much stimulation, holding or passing the baby around and playing with the baby. Babies who become overtired exhibit different signs and it is important for parents to learn exactly what the signs for their child are.

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Fussiness and Crying

Babies who are overtired often cry, fuss and are hard to quiet. According to the website Birth, babies may make grunting sounds that almost sound like growls when they are tired and need to sleep. Birth also reports that babies can even grunt or fuss a little and then stop. However, as they become increasingly tired, these symptoms can worsen and even become a full-blown fit with intense screaming. According to Baby Care Advice, older babies can fight you physically by arching their backs and pulling away when they are upset. When babies get too fussy, they can be even harder to put down for a nap or to sleep at night.

Use Hands

Young babies and newborns often suck their fists when they become overtired in an attempt to soothe themselves. According to Baby Care Advice, older babies who have some upper body control may pull at their ears, hair or rub their eyes when they become overtired. Other babies may grab hold of your clothing when you are holding them and may grunt and cry. Older babies may throw their toys, food or anything else that they can get their hands on. Some babies may hit or smack you while they cry. Others use their hands to push away while you are holding them close. Using soothing words or singing to a baby who is exhibiting these signs is sometimes helpful with soothing them.


According to Baby Care Advice, when overtired, an infant between the ages of three to 12 months can become very clingy. Baby Care Advice reports that babies experiencing this clinginess may want you to hold them and will not allow you to lay them down to sleep. As the baby becomes increasingly tired, she may cry and even begin screaming as she clings to you. She may not be happy with anything that you offer her. For a child exhibiting this behavior, try rocking and singing to her to soothe her behavior. Babies will often fall off to sleep with the rocking motion.

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