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!
68 thoughts on “4 Reasons Your Baby Is Fighting Naps”
My baby literally screams so he doesn’t sleep! I used to put him in the crib drowsy but awake & he’d fall asleep. Then 6 weeks hit & suddenly sleeping was not cool! As soon as it’s close to naptime he’ll cry about anything he usually likes. Nursing, cuddles, sitting down. Anything that makes him fall asleep he screams about! Even just going up the stairs to his room! When he’s awake & not tired he’s the happiest smiley boy ever!
I’ve tried earlier naps, later naps, his room dark, his room light, downstairs on the couch, me holding him. Everything I try it’s still a fight & crying till he finally gives up. Sometimes he’s so tried his eyes are closed but he’s still crying. He’ll fall asleep for a few minutes then jerk awake & cry to stay awake.
He’s 10wks now. Is there anything I can do? Any hope it’ll ever end?! It kills me to hear him cry & get so upset, but nothing is wrong. He’s fed, clean diaper & clothes, & comfortable temperature. He literally just does not want to sleep. I’m exhausted & frustrated & sad that he gets so upset about it.
First time Mom & no family around so any tips would be appreciated!
Hi @ Sarah –
Thank you for writing to us! I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble with your baby fighting sleep these last few weeks! You’re definitely not alone and we hear often about sleep issues coming up at this age! If you haven’t yet, you can sign up to receive our free guide written just for families with young infants, “15 Baby Sleep Facts New Parents Need to Know” here:
It sounds like you have been working on this on your own for a while, and f you’re tired of doing your own research, e do offer a few more in-depth solutions for parents who need more help too. Our e-book, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep, may be a good option for you. In it, we give you a complete toolkit to help your baby establish healthy sleep habits today and throughout the first year.
In addition, our highly trained sleep consultants can help families of newborns manage soothing issues, crying, schedules, sleep associations, and coordinating sleep and feeding times. Our sleep consultation packages are perfect for helping you feel confident in your young infant’s sleep, and we’ll work with you to provide a path forward and be here for any sleep speedbumps too!
You can read more about our wonderful newborn options here:
Thanks again for writing to us and hang in there Sarah!
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