How can I help a fussy, overtired baby fall asleep at bedtime? Sleep

crying baby

It may seem counterintuitive, but when a baby's overtired, it can feel impossible to get him to actually sleep. Here, a pediatrician and moms share advice on how you both can finally get some Zzzzs.

Prevention and Soothing

"I often say that with children you have a 'window of opportunity' to get them to sleep. Once children miss this window they often become overtired, overstimulated, and hard to settle. Tips for soothing overtired babies include: playing white noise, rocking, bouncing, swaddling, and singing." -- Deena Blanchard, MD, MPH, Premier Pediatrics, New York, NY

Sound of the Vacuum

"The vacuum works like a charm every time with my daughter. I give her a paci, put her in her crib, and turn on the vacuum. She stops crying right away and is asleep in under five minutes. Also, it keeps her floor super clean!"


"My little man lives for the swaddled life. He's a flailer, so swaddling for him helps him calm down. When he's super fussy or overtired, I feed him, swaddle him, then rock him on his side against my chest with a pacifier (like nursing). It works every time! It gives him the comfort of nursing without doing so."

Back Rubs and Cuddles

"I rock my baby to sleep and rub her back. She is 14 months old and that has worked since birth. She still uses her pacifier and that's the only way she'll sleep if she's having a rough night. When it's really bad, I take her downstairs and turn on the TV, grab a blanket, and cuddle with her while I watch reality TV."

Favorite Song

"When my youngest daughter was a baby, we use to have to play the same Bob Marley album over and over. To this day -- she's 8 now -- she will still fall asleep to any Bob Marley song."

Rock and Roll

"I take my baby straight to the glider if he's super fussy. After a few minutes of the motion, he will calm down and eventually fall asleep. If all else fails, we go outside for a walk just to get him calm and start over."

Get Moving

"If all else fails, a car ride does the trick for my 18-month-old. When she was younger, it was her swing. My girl likes motion apparently."

Aromatherapy Massage

"My son was very fussy, and I would always give him a bath and give him a baby massage with lavender lotion with soothing quiet music in the background."

Story Time

"My daughter was fascinated when I would read to her literally from day one. Reading a book just seems to calm her and helps her get tired enough to drift off to sleep. Never failed once!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.