Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Baby Fighting Sleep

Have you ever experienced this, parents? You’re in the midst of your bedtime routine, but your baby – who would ideally be getting drowsy and relaxed right about now – is instead arching her back, pulling away from you, crying, and generally doing fighting sleep in every way she can.

Based on the number of questions we’ve gotten recently in our Helpdesk, this is a problem that many of you have faced. That’s why we’re devoting an article to it today: we’ll lay out the three most common reasons your baby is fighting sleep, as well as 5 solutions that can help!

Baby Fighting Sleep? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

There are 3 primary reasons why most babies fight sleep at bedtime and nap time:

  1. Baby is overtired
  2. 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.

  3. Baby isn’t tired enough for sleep
  4. 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.

  5. Baby is going through separation anxiety
  6. Separation anxiety doesn’t strike for most parents until around 9 or 10 months – it tends to be part of the 8/9/10 month sleep regression. But when it strikes, it can definitely lead to your baby fighting sleep! Separation anxiety tends to really peak around 18 months, and can also re-surface again around the 2 year mark.

**Bonus** So, this can be considered a 4th reason, but we’re treating it at a “bonus” cause of sleep-fighting, because it’s important to rule out the previous reasons before settling on this one. Another reason why your baby fights sleep may simply be related to your baby’s personality and temperament. Simply put, perceptive, social babies are more likely to fight sleep, simply because they don’t want to miss a minute of fun, and they have learned that being awake is so much more stimulating and interesting than being asleep!

Baby Fighting Sleep? Here Are 5 Tips That’ll Help

Wile the “why is my baby fighting sleep” question can be incredibly stressful and frustrating, rest assured that it can be solved fairly easily.

  1. Move bedtime to either an earlier or a later time in the evening.
  2. If your baby fights sleep because he’s overtired, then moving bedtime up to an earlier point in the evening can really help. You may also want to try shortening your bedtime routine a bit – shorter routines can help your baby feel relaxed and drowsy, but also ensure that you’re not keeping your baby up too long before bedtime.

    However, if you suspect that your baby is fighting sleep because she isn’t tired enough to fall asleep, then try moving bedtime later. Again, this is particularly true for toddlers – if your toddler is still taking two naps a day, for example, then your bedtime may need to bumped back fairly late in order to make sure your toddler is tired enough for sleep. And in theses cases, you may need to extend your bedtime routine, to give your toddler plenty of time to wind down.

  3. Institute a nap routine, if you haven’t already.
  4. Many of you no doubt have a solid bedtime routine in place – but lots of parents overlook the nap routine! But in our experience, a nap time routine can really help a baby or toddler go from full-on playing and fun to falling asleep. If your baby is fighting sleep at nap time, and you suspect it’s because she’s having trouble transitioning from playtime to nap time, then try a calming nap routine. Just be sure to keep it on the short side – 1 story and a quick lullaby is great.

  5. Adjust your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule to allow for more or less wake time.
  6. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my baby fighting sleep?”, odds are you need to make some schedule adjustments. A baby who is overtired may be taking too few naps, or taking short naps. Conversely, a baby who isn’t tired enough at nap time and bedtime may be ready to drop a nap, or to have a later bedtime.

    For help in determining the best, most sleep-inducing schedule for your child, check out our sample sleep and feeding schedules by age, or use our custom schedule maker.

  7. Give your child a little space.
  8. Now, this won’t work for every situation, and it’s mainly intended for toddlers. That said, here’s what I mean: if your baby or toddler is pushing away from you during the nap time or bedtime routine, there is no harm in putting your child down, scooting away a little, and just giving your little one a break. If your toddler is older, you may want to try leaving the room for a few minutes, and then returning to try again later. It’s not a punishment or a consequence – it’s just you respecting your toddler’s emotions, and giving him the space that he seems to be requesting.

  9. For separation anxiety, check in and provide comfort, but work not to create new sleep problems.
  10. As I said earlier, separation anxiety is a less common cause of a baby fighting sleep. However, if that’s the cause of your baby fighting sleep, then you’ll want to take a look at this article on separation anxiety and sleep for tips about how to manage this problem without creating additional sleep problems.

Baby Fighting Sleep? We Have The Help You Need!

Good nighttime sleep and restorative, consistent naps are hard enough to accomplish – but if your baby is fighting sleep? They can feel downright impossible! Fortunately, we can help. Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Why does your baby fight sleep? Share your experiences and tips with us!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.

The Sleep Training Selfishishness Checklist

Is Sleep Training SelfishSometimes I will get a critical e-mail (occasionally hate mail) in my Inbox saying that sleep training is selfish. This tends to get me riled up a bit. While I’m sure there are cases of some parents sleep training out of pure selfishness, the majority of families we speak with EVERY DAY only want the very best for their baby and families. Sleep deprivation is not a form of torture for nothing. It is effective in making even the most put-together human being unravel at the mere thought of being woken up just one. more. time. This checklist is for you to determine whether you are selfish in sleep training.

Instructions: Mark “yes” or “no” next to each item.

1. My baby is happier when he’s had enough sleep.
2. My baby is more alert and engaging, eager to learn, when she’s had enough sleep.
3. My toddler is better behaved when he’s had enough sleep.
4. My toddler is less clumsy after a good night’s rest.
5. My baby or toddler and I have a lot more fun and can go out to activities when she’s had a good nap.
6. The evening or dinnertime is so much more pleasant when my child has napped well that day.
7. I am a better mom (or dad) when I haven’t been woken up numerous times at night.
8. All I feel like doing is falling asleep on the floor with my baby during the day, when I’ve been woken up all night.
9. I have more energy to take my baby out to activities when I’ve gotten enough sleep.
10. I laugh with my baby more when I’ve gotten enough some sleep.
11. All the little jobs taking care of a baby feel so much more mundane and/or tedious when my baby wakes up all night.
12. Sometimes I feel like I resent my baby.
13. I am starting to feel depressed about my baby’s sleep problems or my abilities as a mother/father.
14. I want to scream right along with my baby when he doesn’t sleep.
15. I have raised my voice at my baby, because he won’t sleep.
16. I feel like I’m going to lose it if I’m woken up again tonight.
17. I worry about my baby’s growth and development without adequate sleep.
18. I worry my baby will have sleep problems in adulthood, if I can’t do a good job right now.
19. I feel like I would love having a baby even more if we were both sleeping.

and…

20. I love my baby beyond words and would never do anything to intentionally hurt him or her. I know what’s best for my baby and this is not it. I love my baby and care for my baby to the best of my abilities all day and every day.

If you said “Yes!” or agreed to more than 5 items, you are most likely NOT selfish in sleep training your baby.

Note: This is meant to be a light-hearted look at this topic and in no way has been sanctioned by a licensed psychologist. 😀 Only you know if you’re being selfish or not in sleep training your baby. Only you know your most inner thoughts and feelings on the matter. And, sometimes, you may only think you’re being selfish, because being a mom is a guilt-provoking job. That’s what we do: worry and doubt. 😀

A part of my personal story is this: My son was MISERABLE without sleep and still is to this day. He’s now 6 years old. His mood and behavior are worse without adequate sleep, too, including in school. I could not sit back and see the misery on my baby’s face every day when he was a baby. I did not feel like that was being a good mom. I had to do something about it. Add to that, I was miserable too. I was depressed not being able to see my husband, going to bed at 7pm every night to “help” my son sleep, yet still being woken up ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I was not able to be the best mom I could be. Actually, I was not able to be the mom I wanted to be. I would fall asleep on the floor in the toy room for goodness sakes! I don’t care if people think I was selfish to teach him how to sleep better. I know better. It was not for the cushy lifestyle, so I could party at night or anything of that nature. It was not only the most important thing I had to do for our family’s well being, but our happiness, too. It could not be better to grow up in an unhappy home absent of sleep training merely to avoid it, could it?

Would I do it again, if my son was happy being sleep-deprived? I’m honestly not sure. All I know is what we lived every day and it wasn’t right. I can’t tell you what you live every day and know if it’s right for you. What’s one family’s end of the rope is different from another family’s and I always pray people will seek help before the end of the rope. I am in awe when I work with a family of a 2 year old still getting up numerous times a night. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have and I couldn’t. That doesn’t make me less of a person. That just makes me a different person.

So, do you feel selfish in sleep training?

If you’re looking for ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

How Crying Can Lead to Babies Sleeping

 
How Crying Can Lead To Babies Sleeping

A lot of times parents don’t understand how crying can ever lead to their baby sleeping. They think that they will certainly exhaust themselves and fall asleep that way, eventually, but what are they really learning? This article is very much NOT about cry it out. There is a LOT in between helping your baby back to sleep every two hours at night and letting them cry it out. This article is discussing how crying can lead to sleep and why crying might be a necessary step in your baby learning how to sleep, even if you are right next to your baby.

Imagine, you are learning to ride a bike. Your parents have put training wheels on your bike to stop you from falling. But, now it’s time for you to learn how to ride your bike on your own. Your parents tell you it’s time to take the training wheels off, but they’re still holding your shoulders as you pedal down the street. All of a sudden they ask you “Are you ready for me to let go?” and you say “I think so.” and they let go and you are off riding your bike all on your own. You look back and seeing your parent has let go of the bike, you freak out, and you fall down, scraping your knee.

It scared you to think that your parent was no longer holding on to you as you rode your bike. You fell down because you lost your focus and confidence. You are scared and you never want them to let go again. Maybe you’ll just never know how to ride a bike by yourself.

At this point, your parent has three choices: a) Put the training wheels back on, b) Keep holding on to your bike while you ride up and down the street, or c) Let go again and hope this time you learn to ride on your own. Having the age and wisdom, your parents know that you CAN ride a bike and all you need is practice and confidence. If they choose the third option, they can find a gentler way to teach you how to ride a bike. But, one thing remains the same: It is very difficult to learn to ride a bike without some falling and we parents want to cushion your fall as much as possible.

When it comes to helping your baby sleep, you might use “training wheels” in the form of a pacifier or rocking your baby to sleep or feeding your baby to sleep or some other sleep crutch, but one day you will realize that it’s your fault your baby won’t sleep and it’s time to take the training wheels off. You have decided that what your baby once NEEDED to sleep, now it’s simply a crutch, hindering him from actually learning how to sleep well on his own.

There are endless sleep training or coaching strategies (are you sleep training a tortoise or a hare?), but one thing that remains the same with all of them: it is difficult to convince your baby that she can sleep on her own without some crying just like it’s difficult to learn to ride a bike without falling. Does that mean you send your child outside to ride a bike on her own or let her cry it out all alone in her crib in her room? Not necessarily. Some people abruptly “let go” of the bike without telling their child “ripping off the band-aid” and others hold on for years and know that, eventually, she will learn to ride a bike. Everybody parents differently and you should have confidence in that your way is the right way for YOUR family.

Crying is part of the way babies communicate. She may have trouble finding that confidence that she CAN do this without you getting out of her way a little bit and “letting go”. Stay with her to encourage and support her through the transition, if you wish, but don’t keep “holding on” to avoid her crying. We all need to fall down sometimes to learn how to get back up and it’s part of growing up. Only you can decide the “right” time for her to learn to sleep on her own. I promise you that most of the time the first few nights are the worst and things can get ten times better after that.

If you need help developing a personalized sleep plan for your unique situation, when you are ready, make sure you check out our baby sleep consulting services, where we work with you on a plan YOU can feel good about.

Get Personalized Sleep Help That Fits Your Parenting Style

From cry it out to no cry, there are lots of sleep training styles and strategies out there! Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will suit your sleep training style. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

What is your view on crying and baby’s sleep?

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 
Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.