Sleep Cues 101: How to Tell When Your Baby is Ready for Bed

Sleep Cues 101: How to Tell When Your Baby is Ready for Bed

by Aire Reese

May 11, 2021   |   3 min read

baby in bedMost of the time, parents will usually wait for their little ones to get fussy about putting them to bed. The parents assume that this is the only sign to tell them when their kiddo is ready for bed, but that is not true. Fussiness and crying suggest that it’s already too late to be putting them to bed. Take a look at different signs your little one is ready to get into their softest baby pajamas, go right to sleep, and learn how to make sure they are getting the rest they need. 

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Your child’s sleep cues tell you when they’re ready to jump into their snuggly-soft baby pajamas—Here’s what you need to know. 

Defining ‘The Sleep Window’

baby standing on bedCatching your kiddo’s sleep window will making putting them to rest a lot easier. 

Have you heard of the sleep window before? The sleep window is the natural time that your Little Lark’s body wants to sleep in its comfiest baby pajamas. Discovering when this is for your kiddo can mean finding out their cues and giving them the most optimal sleep. During the sleep window, your little one is producing melatonin — the sleep hormone. If you miss this window, the body will start to produce cortisol and adrenaline, making it much more difficult to fall asleep.

Sleep cues can vary between each child, so you have to watch the clock and keep an eye out for familiar sleep cues. Most of the time, these cues can be pretty subtle. When you are first identifying the signals, you will probably have to rely on the clock more than your little one’s behaviors. Below is a list of how long a child can usually stay awake according to their age. This list will allow you to track how long they have been awake and around what time they may start to get sleepy. 

  • 0-3 months old — 45 to 60 minutes
  • 3-6 months old — 1 to 2.5 hours
  • 6-9 months old — 2.5 to 3 hours
  • 9-12 months old — 3 to 4 hours
  • 12-18 months old — 4 to 6 hours
  • 2 years old — 5-6 hours
  • 3 years old — 6-8 hours (some children this age stop napping)
  • 4 years old and older — 6-12 hours (most children this age are not napping)

How to Identify Your Babies Sleep Cues

Observing the Signs that Your Child is Tired or Overtired

toddler laying in bedFind out the most common sleep cues to take note of during nighttime or nap time. 

As mentioned above, it can take time and attentiveness to find out what your Little Lark’s sleep cues are. Taking note of how long they should be awake according to their age is a great start. Document the signals that you are noticing, so you have a log of how your kiddo reacts when they are tired. Writing the signs down will help you remember the cues and plan accordingly. Also, note how many hours your little one is sleeping each night. Find out how well they can interact between naps to create the perfect sleeping schedule for your Little Lark. 

Common Sleep Cues

Even though some kiddos will have different signs than others, there are a few sleep cues that are more common than others. If you miss the sleep window, be patient while working with your little one to get them into a sleepy state. Rocking, patting, or shushing may help you reach the sleeping window again. 

Initial sleep cues include:

  • Yawning is usually one of the first signs of a sleepy Little Lark
  • Lack of engagement or activity
  • Weakened sucking may indicate they are too tired to suck anymore 
  • Pulling at ears and rubbing their eyes
  • Sudden movements of hands or legs
  • Less playful or less engaged while playing 

Here are the secondary cues that could indicate that you have missed the window:

  • Stiffening of their body when you pick them up
  • Constant crying/yelling or are overly cranky
  • Burying their head into your chest
  • Become hysterical or throw tantrums 

To keep your little one asleep after you have developed the proper routine, keep them cozy in the softest baby pajamas! Lark Adventurewear’s sleepwear is designed for ultimate comfort while still functional for busy parents and active kids. Our best-selling footies made from our temperature regulating Softek™ fabric are super soft, breathable, and stain-resistant. As experienced parents, we've thought of everything to make life easier for parents and kiddos. The designs include reverse zippers for easy changes, extra-grippy feet to help early walkers, and tagless labels for the ultimate comfort. Shop all of our most comfortable pajamas here.
See how Lark Adventurewear is perfect for your little one.
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