Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: The Over-Tired Baby

This is another book that I highly recommend.  As parents, we made a few wrong turns along the road to healthy sleep habits.  This book was instrumental in getting us back on track.

As I mentioned in my last post, the idea that keeping your child up longer during the day will make him sleep better during his naps sounds reasonable.  However, in practice it just does not work and this is something I learned as a parent, not as a pediatrician.  Newborns just cannot cope well for more than about 1-2 hours of wake time.  Anything more and they start to get “over-tired” and then things get really ugly.

The same is true for nighttime sleep.  One would think that keeping your child up longer at night would equal a really tired baby that is more likely to sleep through the night.  Actually though, the exact opposite is true.  “Over-tired” babies have a much harder time falling asleep and have much more restless sleep.  The end result is a chronically tired baby who does not fall asleep easily, does not sleep well, wakes too early, and is overall miserable.

Our Original Plan

For some reason we originally thought we would make our son’s bedtime a little later – like around 9:30 or 10pm.  This was a terrible idea.  He was always “fussy” in the evenings but we just thought this was normal evening “fussiness.”  For most of the first 10 weeks we would use any of a variety of techniques to try and soothe him during those fussy hours at night.  Sometimes they would work – but mostly he was just miserable.

Our New Plan

Then, my wife read Dr. Weissbluth’s book and we saw the errors of our ways.  Our son was not “fussy” he was tired.  We started putting him down around 7 or 7:30 and like magic everything got better.  He almost immediately dropped one of his feeds and started sleeping around 9 hours straight.  More, he was much happier during the daytime.  Dr. Weissbluth has many other great suggestions and ideas.  We are thankful that we read his book and give it our full recommendation.

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4 Responses to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: The Over-Tired Baby

  1. Leah Teta says:

    Hey Dr. Reynolds, Sorry that makes me laugh addressing you in such a way, because you were my friend before you were a guiding pediatric source of knowledge….anyway, wanted to agree with you here. I am an avid believer in Babywise (as you already know), and can’t say enough good about it, but I went through a time when my daughter was having trouble waking earlier than I “wanted.” I figured it was a developmental thing, blew it off, and it kept occuring. Finally a friend recommended this book to me and gave me the idea of trying to put my daughter down 30 minutes earlier. Well, it worked…didn’t make a lot of sense to me, even though i get the whole “overtired” thing, I just couldn’t get my head around it. Well, she’s almost 11 months, and there are still days that she might not get her full naps when she goes to daycare, and on those days, I put her down earlier. It’s still working for me. Oh, on a side note, the Baby Whisperer was my 1st baby book i read when i was pregnant. She does follow the same concept as babywise. Once I explained the EASY method to my husband who hadn’t been home during the sleep pattern challenge of newborns, he better understood taht sometimes we are not going to have an “angel” baby or “textbook.” All i can say is find the GOOD books, and read them,they are a true life saver. Thanks, leah

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