Babies need naps. Let’s be clear about that. Naps are not optional, naps are not “bonus” sleep sessions… Naps are necessary for proper infant growth and development. That said – try telling that to your baby! Even the best nighttime sleeper can be a prizewinning “nap fighter”. Knowing your child needs naps and doing all in your power to ensure that she gets them, doesn’t always mean that your child really WILL nap.
So why does your baby fight naps, and what can you do about it? Read on for tips!
4 Reasons Your Baby Fights Naps
1. Your baby is overtired
This is hands-down the most common reason why your baby is fighting sleep. Simply put, a baby becomes overtired when you miss his “sleep window” (that moment when he’s drowsy enough to fall asleep fairly quickly, but not so tired that he’s begun crying) and put him down for a nap or for bed too late. It sounds odd, I know, but babies really can become too tired to fall asleep easily.
2. Your baby isn’t tired enough for sleep
This is less common, but still a reality in some cases – especially for toddlers. If your baby is fighting sleep, rewind and think about how much wake time your child has had. While younger babies definitely need short wake times throughout the day, most toddlers are capable of much longer wake time. In our experience, a toddler who’s fighting sleep may very well not be tired enough to sleep.
3. Your baby’s napping area isn’t “sleepy” enough
Prime your baby for better nap sleep by ensuring that the napping area is nice and dim, and that you are blocking out any ambient noise that may wake your baby. Blackout blinds and white noise machines can really help to create a great napping environment.
4. Your baby is ready to drop a nap
Now this one isn’t a given, but some babies start fighting naps in particular if they are preparing to drop a nap. You may find that your child fights the last nap of the day (which can in turn affect other naps over the next several days). If you think your child may be ready to transition to fewer naps, check out this article about dealing with common nap transitions.
How To Help Your Nap-Fighting Baby Nap Peacefully
How you address your baby’s nap fighting depends entirely on WHY your baby is fighting naps, so be sure to use the reasons above to pin down exactly what’s causing this issue. Once you know the cause, utilize the following tips:
- If your child isn’t tired enough at naptime, consider a new nap schedule. You may need to either adjust the timing of naps, or you may need to transition your child to fewer naps.
- If your child is overtired at naptime, consider moving bedtime earlier and adjusting the timing of naps. Additionally, you may need to add in a catnap during the day, particularly if your child is in the midst of a nap transition.
- If you’ve addressed every underlying cause of nap fighting, and your child still isn’t napping properly, then you may have sleep associations to address. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to work on helping your child learn to fall asleep unassisted. In other words, you’ll need to sleep train. And we can certainly help with that!
- For more great naptime tips, check out our blog articles: 10 Naptime Tips You Can Use Today, 10 Must-Know Nap Facts, and 5 Bad Nap Habits!