To know the signs your child is tired before they hit meltdown stage is incredibly valuable – for your child and for your sanity.

It is natural to have a set bedtime, but if your toddler was super active during the day, or missed a nap the previous day, an earlier bedtime may be the answer to avoid meltdowns.

signs child is tired

Some days it will be best to follow your child’s cues than it is to follow the clock. A good bedtime routine and knowing the signs that your child is tired will help you have a peaceful bedtime.

We have all learned from experience that it takes twice as long to put an overtired child to bed, so here are 5 cues your child is tired:

1. Demands for Constant Attention

  • Suddenly your child can’t play independently and is constantly asking for your attention.
  • You have to remain within arm’s reach of your child in order for him to be content.

child is tried and fussy

2. Fussiness with Food

  • Your child is whining instead of eating a favorite meal.
  • Snacks end up on the floor instead of being eaten.
  • Your child asks for food, but doesn’t eat it.

child is tired and crying

3. Highly Emotional

  • Your child refuses transition from one activity to another.
  • Crying and laughing within minutes of each other.

child is tired and bored

4. Boredom with Toys

  • Toys are not occupying your child’s attention.
  • The go-to distraction games like patty cake and singing “Wheels on the Bus” do not help.

child is tired looking for attention

5. Unable to Explain What’s Wrong

  • Your child is crying/upset, but he cannot tell you what is bothering him.
  • Your child suddenly becomes upset about something that generally doesn’t bother him.

When you are able to recognize these signs, and start reducing stimulation, you’ll be more in tune with the ever-changing sleep needs of your little one. Below is a table of recommended hours of sleep for your children, based on their stages in life.

child is tired sleeping chart

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