Understanding Baby Sleep Cues: What They Are And How To Support Your Little One
7 min read
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Jerky limbs, frowning faces and lots of yawning: can you guess what these baby behaviours have in common? Answer: all three are common cues that your bub is in need of some shut-eye.
When it comes to their sleeping patterns and habits, every baby is unique. But, one thing that is fairly consistent across the board is that it can sometimes be challenging to decipher what your little one wants and when they’ve deemed it time for a rest.
By understanding common baby sleeping cues, you may feel better equipped to comprehend your little one’s silent communication.
Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s sleep or their health, talk to your health professional.
Before your little one can talk, babies have sleep cues in their behaviour to communicate what they need. So, when you start to see them performing their sleep cues, it may be time for you to start getting them ready for bed (1).
When you’re still getting to know your newborn, their sleep cues may go unnoticed for the first few weeks. Eventually, as you spend more and more time with them, you should be able to identify their cues and when they’re signalling for some slumber.
Over time, it’s likely your child’s sleep cues will evolve and change as they grow. While they continue to develop, their signals for sleep may progress with them, meaning there might be some more learning for you as a parent in understanding when they’re tired. Adjusting your routine as their sleep cues change can be more common as your child grows older.
If your newborn baby is ready to drift off to dreamland, they may exhibit the following sleeping cues:
As your little one continues to grow, they may continue to show some of these sleep cues to signify tiredness while not exhibiting others.
It’s important to remember that each child is different. If you have any concerns about your child’s sleep or their health, talk to your health professional.
Although some signals (such as yawning) may be obvious indicators that it’s time for a nap, there are some behaviours that could also communicate your bub is hungry. For example, grizzling or crying may mean your child is tired, but could also indicate they’re hungry.
To try and differentiate between the two, you may find it useful to analyse your bub’s last few hours. If they’ve been fed within two hours, they’re likely to be tired (3). If you’re unsure, offer a feed and if they only take a little milk and are still unsettled, that may be a sign they’re ready for some slumber (3).
Although these cues are common signs of tiredness or hunger in babies, if you have any concerns about your child’s sleep or their health, talk to your health professional.
If your little one is showing signs of tiredness, it can be useful to prepare them for sleep by reducing stimulation around them. You may find the following tips useful for lulling your bub off to sleep:
As babies can’t speak yet, the ways that they tell you they want something can be a bit of a mystery. As you get to know their sleep cues, you may be able to tell when they need a slumber before they become overtired.
If you have any concerns about your little one’s sleep habits, talk to your health professional.
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