Here’s Your (Tired) Sign

Road sign

If only it were as simple as a yawn.

Unfortunately, figuring out when a child is tired is much more complicated. What makes it difficult is that every child displays their tired sign differently.

Knowing when your child is tired can be, well, tiring. If you miss that window of opportunity to get your child to sleep, it becomes even harder. Thankfully, our children give us signs to tell us they are tired.

The challenging part is recognizing the signs, but once you become familiar with them, then getting them to sleep will be easier.

Most children have at least one sign and some have more than one (our daughter has quite a few). Here are 5 tired signs to look for.

Witching Hour

moonlight, cloudy night

Tick-tock, tick-tock. That time of day is getting nearer, the one where your child’s personality magically changes. They might be more irritable, a little more cranky and/or cry more than other times during the day. These are the times that are most trying as a parent and you wonder what happened to “my happy child?” If it is around the same time each day, then you have come to the witching hour.

Loopy Land

fair, rides, carnival

Welcome to Loopy Land, where everything is hilarious, but for no reason. This is where my son and daughter both reside when they get tired. They act silly, find everything funny, and/or won’t be still. Sometimes both my kids will start spinning in circles; they get dizzy, fall over and laugh and laugh. To be honest, it is fun to watch. What seems cute or adorable is actually a sign that they are getting tired. This tired sign is often missed because the child seems so happy and is having a good time. So keep your eyes open and get them rest before they enter Loopy Land.

Static Cling

clingy, baby, toddler

It seems so sweet, your child just wants to be held or to sit in your lap. It is so precious and what could make a parent feel better, but watch out, it could be a sign that your child is tired. And count your blessings they don’t have a…

Short Fuse


You never know when or where, but then suddenly your child goes off. The reason does not have to be big either, it can be the smallest thing. Things that do not normally bother them, all of a sudden do and then they overreact. Imagine your child is stacking blocks, one on top of the other and then it gets too high and they come crashing down. Instead of smiling or laughing like they normally do, they scream, throw a tantrum, or begin to cry. Your child has a short fuse.

Did I Do That?

Spilled yogurt, drink, kids

Knocking things over or spilling things, yes, clumsiness is a tired sign. Some toddlers get clumsy when they are tired, more so than usual. Balance is affected by being tired. Our youngest child is transitioning to one nap, and in the mornings, he falls down a lot more. He sleeps well at night, but until he adjusts to this new schedule he will be falling down more.

What to Do

It is important to be on the lookout for these signs. Once you notice your child is getting tired (even if they do not act that way) then get them to sleep. An early bedtime will help them “catch-up” on sleep and also encourage them to sleep later in the morning.

If it is too early for bed or nap time then do “quiet time.” During quiet time take your child to their room, close the blinds and curtains and take all toys away. Turn on the white noise machine to reduce background noises. Feel free to cuddle, or sing some quiet songs. Be cautious this does not stimulate them too much and therefore prevents them from relaxing. Quiet time is a temporary solution, so get them to bed early.

The good news is that when a child gets enough sleep and at the right times these signs disappear. Be mindful when your child begins to act differently then they do other times of the day. If it becomes a pattern then you have a tired child. Knowing the signs and knowing what to do will help in raising a happy child.

By | 2018-05-23T16:51:00+00:00 March 6th, 2015|Toddler Sleep|0 Comments

About the Author:

Julia Walsh is a mother of three, and a Certified Sleep Consultant with Good Night Sleep Site. She has taught preschool for 8 years, and has a degree in Child Development. When she’s not playing with Legos and dolls or baking yummy treats with her children, she’s helps families to overcome their sleep challenges. Follow Julia on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.

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