If you're a parent you've heard the term many times! "Watch for the sleepy cues!" Many parents get confused and wonder what exactly it is they are looking for? Yawning and eye rubbing are late signs for a sleepy baby, and crying is often way too late! Here's the scoop on the "sleepy" signals and how to understand them.
When babies are getting close to their ideal sleep window they often show us in subtle ways that they have hit the "sweet spot" for sleep. The cues can be different for each baby, so learning to read your baby's cues is the key. If your baby isn't getting enough overall sleep, he or she may show signs of yawning in-between sleep cycles, this can get confusing so count the number of hours your baby sleeps. For many babies waking up at the wrong time in the sleep cycle or waking from a deep sleep will cause them to wake up irritable and look sleepy. This doesn't mean they aren't getting enough sleep, it just means your little one is more sleep sensitive. We call this sensation sleep inertia and babies are often more sensitive to this feeling. Tracking your schedule, knowing your wake windows and anticipating the sleep cues is the first step to solving the puzzle.
Some babies show signs by pulling at their ears or hair, they may rub their head or nose, snuggle into your shoulder, have faster, deeper breathing. They often appear glassy eyes or have a blank stare, disengaged and avoiding eye contact. Sometimes they will have redness around their eyes or eyebrows. Other signs include head bobbing or shaking their head, babbling or covering their face, hiccups, floppy tone, puffy eyes, cuddling and putting head down, slower movements or repetitive movements, wanting to be held or wanting to fed when it isn't feeding time, and rubbing their face into blankets. The obvious signs of yawning and eye rubbing can still help you find the perfect wake window by simply starting your nap routine 10-15mins earlier the following day.
For some babies, sleep signs are a little different, they can become fidgety, more active, or silly. Sometimes they seem giddy and playful, blowing raspberries, laughing or giggling, having increasing movements. Others may show irritability quickly and become cranky or grumpy, at first they may seem distant, and easily frustrated, often they will push mommy away and become whiny or upset with everything. These babies may burst into tears quickly without any previous subtle signs.
Getting to know your baby is important and understanding temperament makes a huge difference in how you manage sleep and sleep associations. Not every baby responds well to the interventions you apply, so make sure it's a good match before tackling sleep!
If you think you've got it and have mastered the sleep cycles! Congrats!! If you need more help please reach out to me for a free consultation!