Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

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Have you ever asked yourself this question “why do babies fight sleep?” It’s a very valid question and one that perplexes many parents. Babies can sleep for long stretches, but they often seem to put up resistance when it comes time to go to bed. There are several theories about why babies fight sleep – some biological and others environmental. Let’s find out the top reasons.

What Does Fighting Sleep Mean?

When a baby fights sleep, they don’t want to go to bed. They may cry and resist being laid down or be fussy and unsettled before finally falling asleep. Fighting sleep can also include waking up frequently during the night, even after being put comfortably in bed.

Read more: When Can A Baby Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

why do babies fight sleep

There are several reasons why babies may fight sleep. Here are some of the top reasons:

Stress and Overstimulation

Babies fight for sleep for various reasons, but one common idea is that they become overly stressed and overstimulated throughout their day. This can be caused by various factors, such as exposure to too much noise, stimulation, and activity. When babies get too worked up from the day’s events and activities, it can be almost impossible to wind down and relax enough to go to bed when it’s time.

That’s why creating an environment with a little more peace can often do wonders in getting babies ready for sleep. Additionally, parents should establish calming pre-bedtime rituals like singing lullabies or baths to help babies decompress from their more active moments.

Hunger or Thirst

When babies struggle to fall asleep, hunger or thirst can often be caused. In those young years, a baby’s need for basic nourishment is incredibly important and must be regularly met. Hungry or thirsty babies can be much fussier than when they have been fed and their needs are taken care of – this impacts how they see the prospect of napping or going to sleep.

As parents, we must understand that until our baby is old enough to learn good sleeping habits, it is essential to ensure that hunger or thirst doesn’t contribute to their fight against sleep. Doing so can make all the difference in them getting restful nights!

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common, normal stage of development that babies can experience. This anxiety is often seen when the baby moves away from the primary caregiver and when facing unfamiliar people or environments.

To combat the feeling of loss, they may struggle to settle into a bedtime routine which can include crying or fighting against even their favorite place to nap. The most important thing to understand is that this is not intentional defiance; the nap routine is just a natural response, and there are ways to ease the transition from playtime to sleep time.


Teething can be a difficult time for babies and their parents alike. Teething can cause many physical symptoms, including swollen gums, increased saliva production that makes the baby’s skin drool far more than normal, redness in the cheeks, and a low-grade fever. The tender gums and discomfort of teething cause little ones to become extra cranky, clingier, and less interested in sleeping.

Parents are left with a problem – how to alleviate the pain and help their baby settle down to sleep? Multiple solutions exist depending on the child, such as using teethers or giving them something cold to chew on, but each situation is unique.

Sleep Regression

why do babies fight sleep

Sleep regression is a natural part of development when babies and toddlers fight against sleep and wake more frequently at night than before. Sleep regressions can occur every few months as new milestones, like reaching or learning to walk, can disrupt sleep patterns. Beyond physical development causing difficulties, children need to learn how to properly go to sleep and stay asleep without outside help from parents. This process is often tiring and frustrating for both parents and babies alike!

Circadian Rhythm

Their still-developing circadian rhythm often causes sleep fighting in infants. This internal clock, found in almost all species of animals, controls when we’re awake and tired. It’s triggered by light, so babies are easily confused if the darkness and brightness of their environment change a lot.

When their body isn’t sure about the day and night cycle, the rhythm gets out of sync, making it harder for babies to recognize when it’s bedtime. Thus, if not helped to set a consistent schedule for light exposure, babies can find themselves wide awake at times meant for sleep!

Not Tired Enough

Babies fight sleep even when we think they should be ready for bedtime. A frequent culprit of this seemingly perplexing behavior is that babies aren’t as tired as we think! Toddlers and infants are still learning to self-regulate their energy levels and interpret how much rest they need.

This can mean they appear to be alert and active at what may seem like an appropriate time to go to sleep. In these cases, responding to their body’s cues is key to helping them understand when it’s time to wind down.

What to Do When Your Baby Fights Sleep?

why do babies fight sleep

This can be difficult for parents as they try to figure out why their baby is suddenly fighting sleep and what to do about it. It’s important to remember that babies are very complex and often won’t know how to verbalize when something is wrong or to cause distress.

Understanding the cause of the behavior, such as teething pain, sleep deprivation, separation anxiety, or an undeveloped circadian rhythm, can help you decide on the best approach. Patience and understanding will go far in helping them get through this challenging stage! Some other tips that can help the baby stop fighting sleep include:

  • Keeping bedtime routines consistent,
  • Avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime,
  • Producing a calming environment by turning down lights and noise levels,
  • Eliminating distractions from screens,
  • Offering comfort items, e.g., stuffed animals and more

Read more: How To Help A Teething Baby Sleep

Wrapping Up

When babies fight sleep, it can be an incredibly frustrating time for parents. However, you can find a solution that works best for your family by understanding the possible causes and trying different strategies to help them settle down into a calm state.

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Jenny Chaines

Jenny Chaines

Having the perfect bassinet is something that every mother wants for her child.
I've been doing my own due diligence since the day I knew I was pregnant and I'm here to let you in on the ins and outs of it all...

About Me

Having the perfect bassinet is something that every mother wants for her child.
I’ve been doing my own due diligence since the day I knew I was pregnant and I’m here to let you in on the ins and outs of it all…

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