One of the best ways to relax and rejuvenate our body is through sound sleep. The same applies to babies as well. If they get a good night’s sleep, they wake up cheerful and happy and feel refreshed.
But there are times when babies fight sleep, though they are tired and sleepy. They express this by crying, pulling away from you, and even arching their back. They are determined not to go back to sleep and gives you a hard time.
There are various reasons why babies fight sleep. Let us have a look at the five main reasons for this strange behavior.
Why is my baby fighting sleep?
This is a common question many new parents ask. Let’s dive in the main reasons why your baby is fighting sleep.
1) The baby is overtired
The general notion is that once the babies become tired, they will sleep fast. But this may not hold good in all cases.
For some babies when they are tired, they become cranky and hyper. When they show an overactive behaviour, parents think that they are not sleepy and postpone their sleep. They become even crankier and cry out to fight sleep.
2) The baby is not tired enough
As a baby grows, his/her sleeping pattern also changes. By the time a baby is one year of age, he requires only 3 hours of day time sleep. If the baby sleeps for more than this time, he may not feel sleepy during night.
Similarly, if the baby is not active during the daytime, then he may not be tired enough to fall asleep. This can also be another reason why babies fight sleep.
3) The baby requires a change in sleeping schedule
As the baby grows, his/her sleep pattern also changes. Older babies need less sleep than newborns. If you do not understand the changing sleeping requirements of the baby and put him to sleep as before, then the baby might fight sleep.
If this is the case, then changing the sleeping schedule might help the baby to drift off to sleep faster.
Read more on crafting a sleep schedule for newborn and sleep schedule for 2-3 months old.
4) Baby fighting sleep because of separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a normal phase in the baby’s development. It usually happens from 6 months of age. This is the time when babies realize how much they depend on their care takers. This realization is what creates separation anxiety in the baby.
When babies experience this anxiety, one way to show this is by fighting sleep. This is just a developmental phase, and the baby outgrows it in due course.
If the baby is ill for some reason, then he might find it difficult to fall asleep. For, e.g., if the baby is down with fever or cold, then he finds it difficult to sleep easily.
Illness is a temporary phase, and once the baby is completely cured, then he/she will easily drift off to sleep.
How to deal with a baby fighting sleep?
There are a few tweaks parents can introduce to their baby’s sleep routine to make putting a baby to sleep less of a hassle. However, it is important to notice that this is a developmental phase and the best remedy is indeed time.
Here are a few of our easy solutions to help a baby stop fighting sleep:
Put the baby to sleep early:
If you feel that the baby is fighting sleep because of overtiredness, you should put him to sleep early. For this, you should closely look for signs of sleepiness and act accordingly.
Few signs of sleepiness that are shown by babies are yawning, rubbing eyes, red eyes, and showing no interest in activities. When they show any of these signs, you should immediately put them to sleep.
Keep the baby active:
If the baby is fighting sleep because he is not tired, then keep him active during the daytime. If the baby is around 8-10 months of age, then take him out for some time and keep him engaged with toys. For older babies who have started walking, you can make them run and play so that they feel sleepy.
If the baby is too small to move around, then cut down one of the naps, especially the one in the evening. This way the baby will become tired and doze off without sleep fighting.
Follow a nap routine:
We wrote about this when explaining why your baby won’t sleep in crib, you may want to have a look at it.
If you follow a daily routine for the baby’s nap, then the baby is more likely to fall asleep calmly. A nap routine will make the transition from playtime to sleep time relatively easy. Few of the routine activities that you can follow are bathing the baby, feeding the baby, and singing or telling a story to the baby.
Comfort the baby:
If separation anxiety is the cause of sleep fighting, then comforting the baby might help him to drift off to sleep. Be next to the baby until he falls completely asleep. If he happens to wake up from the sleep and cry, go near the baby and comfort him.
Comforting him whenever needed provides reassurance to the baby that you will be around when he/she needs you.
The personality of the baby also plays a significant role in fighting sleep. For babies who are social and inquisitive, sleep time means shutting off from all the fun. This realization can make them cranky and fight sleep.