why do babies fight sleep

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep? 6 Common Reasons and 11 Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

As a new parent, one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a baby is getting them to fall asleep and stay asleep. Babies fight sleep for a variety of reasons, and it can be frustrating and exhausting for both the baby and the parents.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the common reasons why babies fight sleep, and provide tips and tricks to help your baby fall asleep more easily.

If you’re a new parent, you’ve probably experienced frustration at nap time and asked yourself: why do babies fight sleep? It seems like just when you think your baby is finally drifting off, they suddenly become alert and start crying.

This can happen over and over again, leaving you feeling exhausted and at a loss for what to do.

Learn more about the reasons babies fight sleep as well as how to help them get the rest they need.

Why do babies fight sleep?

There are many reasons why babies fight sleep. Some babies have trouble settling down and calming themselves, while others may be overstimulated or overtired. Here are a few reasons why babies might fight sleep:

1. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common reason why babies fight sleep. As your baby grows, they become more aware of their surroundings and may become anxious when they are separated from their parents or caregivers. This anxiety can make it difficult for them to fall asleep, as they may feel more secure when they are with someone they trust.

As babies grow, they can become more attached to their parents or caregivers, making it difficult for them to fall asleep when they are not near them. This can lead to separation anxiety, which can make it difficult for babies to fall asleep.

2. Sleep Deprivation

Babies who are not getting enough sleep may fight sleep because they are overtired. When babies are overtired, they may have trouble settling down and may become cranky and irritable. This can make it difficult for them to fall asleep, even when they are tired.

3. Trouble Falling Asleep

Some babies have trouble falling asleep, even when they are tired. This can be due to a variety of factors, including an irregular sleep schedule, too much noise or stimulation, or discomfort from teething or illness.

4. Lack of Sleep Cues

Babies need a consistent routine to help them fall asleep. If your baby’s bedtime routine is unpredictable or inconsistent, they may have trouble settling down and falling asleep. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help your baby recognize when it’s time to sleep.

5. Overstimulation

Babies can become overstimulated by too much noise or activity, which can make it difficult for them to fall asleep. Providing a calm and quiet environment can help your baby feel more relaxed and fall asleep more easily.

6. Not Enough Sleep Pressure

Babies need a certain amount of sleep pressure to fall asleep. There’s a chance that your baby is fighting sleep because they’re not tired enough at bedtime. For example, between 1 and 2 years old, babies sleep 11 to 14 hours, rather than the 12 to 16 hours they logged when they were younger.

If your baby is getting too much daytime sleep, they may not feel tired enough to fall asleep at night. Creating a consistent nap and sleep schedule can help ensure that your baby gets enough sleep pressure to fall asleep at night.

Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

What can you do when your baby fights sleep? Check out this 7 minute video from sleep experts LittleOnes – Amanda discusses strategies to get your baby to take naps during the day and improve their nighttime sleep.

How do I get a baby who fights sleep to take a decent nap? – Little Ones

The steps you take depend, in part, on the reasons for your baby fighting sleep, but the following sleep tips are useful for creating a positive sleep environment, no matter what your challenges.

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine

Creating a soothing bedtime ritual can help your baby feel more relaxed and prepared for sleep.

A consistent bedtime routine signals to your baby that it is time for sleep and can help them to wind down and feel calm if they are having trouble sleeping.

It also provides a predictable sequence of events that can help ease any separation anxiety your baby may be experiencing.

Your bedtime routine should be a relaxing and calming experience. You might try a warm bath, gentle massage, singing lullabies, or reading a story. Dress your baby in comforting sleepwear. Whatever activities you choose, make sure they are quiet, soothing, and relaxing.

This will help to create a restful environment that promotes sleep. Doing the same things at the same time every night can help signal to your baby that it’s time to go to sleep.

Check out my post: The Ultimate guide to dressing your baby for a good night’s sleep

2. Look for Sleep Cues

Babies often give off cues when they are tired and ready for sleep. These cues can include:

  • yawning,

  • eye rubbing,

  • becoming fussy or irritable,

  • losing interest in their surroundings.

By paying attention to these cues, you can help your baby to fall asleep more easily and prevent them from becoming overtired.

It is important to note that not all babies will exhibit the same sleep cues. Some may become more hyperactive or overstimulated when they are tired, making it more difficult for them to settle down. Over time, you will learn your baby’s unique sleep cues and be better able to respond to them.

3. Follow a Nap and Sleep Schedule

Babies thrive on routine, and following a regular nap and sleep schedule can help your baby get the sleep they need. Most newborn babies need 14-17 hours of sleep per day, with newborn babies sleeping for shorter periods of time and older babies sleeping for longer stretches.

To establish a sleep schedule, pay attention to your baby’s natural sleep patterns and try to create a routine around them. This might involve establishing set nap times, setting a consistent bedtime, and waking your baby up at the same time each morning. Consider their overall sleep needs and ensure that they’re given the chance to get plenty of day and night sleep.

How much sleep your baby needs will depend on many factors, including their age, personality, development, and more. Create a sleep schedule based on these factors. Here’s a useful chart from whattoexpect.com to plan naps for the first year.

Baby sleep schedules chart for first year
https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/baby-sleep-schedule.aspx

4. Address Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be a common reason why babies fight sleep. This is because they may feel anxious or upset when separated from their parents or caregivers. To help ease separation anxiety, try to create a secure and comforting sleep environment for your baby.

This might involve placing a favorite stuffed animal or blanket in their crib (safely of course). You might also try spending extra time cuddling and soothing your baby before bedtime to help them feel more secure.

5. Consider Sleep Training

Sleep training can be an effective way to help your baby learn to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep for longer stretches.

If your baby is consistently fighting sleep and you’re having trouble getting them to fall asleep and stay asleep, sleep training may be an option to consider.

Before trying any sleep training method, it is important to talk to your pediatrician to ensure that your baby is developmentally ready. Newborn sleep is very different from that of a one-year-old for example, so make sure your baby is ready.

It is also important to choose a method that you feel comfortable with and to be consistent in your approach. There are a variety of different sleep training methods, and it’s important to choose one that feels comfortable for you and your family.

Check out my post: Sleep Training your toddler: 5 Gentle techniques to help you both get some much needed rest

6. Create a Restful Environment

Creating a restful environment can help your baby to feel calm and relaxed, making it easier for them to fall asleep.

This might involve turning down the lights, keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, using a sleep sack, and minimizing loud noises.

You might also consider using a white noise machine to provide a soothing background sound or shut out environmental noises, or blackout curtains to create a dark and cozy space. Creating a restful environment can help to reduce distractions and promote sleep.

7. Understand Sleep Pressure

Sleep pressure refers to the build-up of the body’s need for sleep over time.

Babies need a certain amount of sleep pressure to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.

This means that if your baby is getting too much sleep during the day, they may struggle to fall asleep at night.

To ensure that your baby has enough sleep pressure, try to follow a consistent nap routine and sleep schedule. This will help to regulate their sleep patterns and ensure that they are getting the amount of sleep that they need.

8. Avoid Overstimulation

Overstimulation can make it difficult for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. To avoid overstimulation, try to create a calm and quiet environment in the hour leading up to bedtime. This can include turning off the TV and avoiding loud noises, bright lights, and rough play. Instead, try reading a book or baby massage.

9. Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to helping your baby to develop healthy sleep habits.

This means following the same routine, keeping the sleep environment consistent, and responding to your baby’s needs in a consistent way. This can help your baby to feel safe and secure and make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

10. Watch for Signs of Sleep Deprivation

If your baby isn’t getting enough sleep, they may become overtired, fussy, and irritable.

An overtired baby may also have trouble settling down for sleep and waking frequently during the night.

This is due to a build-up of cortisol (stress hormone) so it is important to schedule nap time and focus on good quality nighttime sleep.

The more overtired a baby is, the more time it takes for them to fall asleep shortens between sleep cycles.

Some signs of sleep deprivation include:

  1. Increased fussiness and irritability

  2. Difficulty settling down for sleep or staying asleep

  3. Frequent waking during the night

  4. Refusal to take naps or shortened naps

  5. Increased crying and difficulty consoling

  6. Decreased appetite or difficulty feeding

  7. Delayed developmental milestones

  8. Lack of interest in playing or interacting with others

  9. Increased likelihood of accidents or injuries

  10. Weakened immune system leading to more illnesses.

It’s important to note that all babies are different and may only show some of these signs. If you are concerned about sleep deprivation then focus on a nap schedule and achieving good quality restful nighttime sleep.

11. Be Patient

Remember that developing healthy sleep habits takes time. It’s normal for babies to go through phases where they fight sleep more than usual, and it’s important to respond to your baby’s sleep challenges with patience and calm.

They feed off of your emotions, so staying relaxed can help them to calm down as well.

With time and patience, most babies will develop healthy sleep habits and be able to fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.

Conclusion

Babies fight sleep for a variety of reasons, including separation anxiety, overstimulation, and trouble settling.

Understanding your baby’s sleep cues, creating a soothing bedtime routine, and following a consistent sleep schedule can help to promote healthy sleep habits and make it easier for your baby to stop fighting sleep, fall asleep, and stay asleep.

If you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep, consider consulting with your pediatrician or a sleep specialist to determine the best approach for your baby’s unique sleep challenges.

With patience and persistence, most babies will develop healthy sleep habits and thrive.

FAQ’s

Have Questions? I Have Answers.

Your baby may be overtired, overstimulated, or have separation anxiety. Check sleep cues, create a routine, and soothe with white noise.

Fighting sleep may decrease around 6-9 months with better self-soothing and sleep consolidation.

Create a soothing bedtime routine, regulate your baby’s sleep schedule, monitor sleep pressure, and ensure a restful sleep environment.

When overtired, babies produce cortisol, a stress hormone that stimulates them, making it hard to fall asleep.

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