Struggling with a baby fighting sleep is stressful, especially when you can't quite pinpoint a reason for it.
Inconsistent sleep patterns are hard on your health and sleep deprivation can make parenthood feel much tougher.
Figuring out the cause of why your baby won’t sleep and taking action can have a huge positive impact on you and your family.
Normal sleep for my baby
Recommended hours of sleep
per 24 hours
Newborn – 1 month
◆ 16 to 20 hours
◆ Sleep for 1 to 4 hour periods
followed by 1 to 2 hours of time
◆ The amount of daytime sleep
equals nighttime sleep
1 – 4 months
◆ 15 to 17 hours
◆ Sleep for 3 to 4 hour periods.
◆ Knowing day versus night starts
between 6 weeks to 3 months
4 – 12 months
◆ 12 to 16 hours
◆ (including daytime naps: typically
30 minutes to 3 hours)
12 – 24 months
◆ 11 to 14 hours
◆ (including daytime naps: typically
30 minutes to 2 hours)
In this article, we'll create a foundation for healthy baby sleep patterns by sharing information and resources about:
Why do babies fight sleep?
Baby fighting sleep may look like tears and shouts or wiggles and alertness. Finding out the underlying reason is your first step to longer, healthier, more restorative sleep.
Here are seven of the most common 7 reasons why babies fight sleep:
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 1: Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a normal part of child development that tends to begin at around six months. You might find that your baby starts to cry when being held by others, or when you put them down to sleep and leave the room. This can then become a barrier to your baby's sleep.
This is a completely natural part of your baby's development, and it's understandable to feel mean or guilty if you notice your baby getting upset in these situations. But with time, your baby will learn that they can feel safe and secure without your presence and that you will come back to them.
In the meantime, Nested Bean’s Zen Sleepwear™ can be a great tool for calming your baby. The gently weighted Cuddle Pads are designed to mimic your touch and help your baby sleep peacefully even when you aren't holding them in your arms.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 2: Overtiredness
Surprisingly, overtiredness is by far one of the most common reasons for your baby to fight sleep! A lack of sleep can actually cause babies to become more cranky and agitated, leading to trouble settling at bedtime.
Fighting sleep is likely due to a predictable phase. Once you’ve identified the issue, you can help her through it and then ease her back to the sleep you’re both craving. -whattoexpect
To avoid this paradoxical situation, you can try to keep an eye out for early signs of sleepiness. For example, if you notice your baby yawning or blinking more, it might be better to put them to bed sooner rather than later.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 3: Overstimulation
At the opposite end of the spectrum to overtiredness, we have overstimulation, which produces a similar effect: a stressed-out, unsettled baby.
This can occur when babies are overwhelmed by more sensations than they can handle. For instance, it may happen after a visit from lots of friends, or at an event with too much noise.
You'll know that soothing an overstimulated baby can be tricky and time-consuming, so prevention is the best way to go here when possible. To do this, you can try to keep your little one away from loud noises and discomforting places and keep the circle of people around them in a period of time fairly small.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 4: Teething
None of us remember teething, but everyone has been through it, and it isn't easy! Most babies start teething at around six months, but it's perfectly normal for this to happen as early as four months and as late as twelve months.
Though this may be a totally pain-free experience, many babies can experience soreness, rashes, and even a mild temperature - not easy symptoms to sleep through!
Teething pains can be managed with tools like teething rings, which can be cooled in a fridge (but not a freezer) for additional soothing effects. You can also rub your baby's gums with a clean finger, or if the problem is more serious, look into over-the-counter remedies.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 5: Hitting a milestone
We love to hear from parents about the milestones their baby has hit! But for all of the excitement around a first step or first word, you might find that your baby is practicing their newfound talents when they should be falling asleep.
You can encourage your baby to engage with these new skills during the daytime instead, so that nighttime is reserved for sleeping. By establishing these actions as daytime behaviours, you can help to reinforce nighttime as a calmer time of day where your baby can self soothe.
Our gently weighted Zen Sleepwear can also help your baby know when it's time to rest, as the Cuddle Pads mimic the soothing Cuddle Affect your touch naturally provides. This lets you put your baby to bed while still giving them the comfort and security they crave.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 6: Traveling
Many adults have trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places or during trips, and babies are no different. The stress of being on the move for a long time, or of being in a new environment with new, exciting things everywhere, can cause your baby to feel unsettled and fight sleep.
This is where a well-established bedtime routine can really be useful. Try going through these familiar behaviors in the order you usually do them - feed, storytime, bath, lullaby, for instance.
This can help your baby to feel more comfortable, and therefore more likely to stop fighting sleep.
Baby Fighting Sleep Reason 7: Discomfort or illness
As much as you try to keep your baby happy and healthy, sometimes something like a cold or infection can slip in and make bedtime more difficult.
These illnesses usually go away with a little care and attention, but sleep is a vital part of getting better, and a baby fighting sleep may take longer to recover.
If your baby's health doesn't improve and it's impacting their sleep and general wellbeing, you should contact your pediatrician for specialist advice.
What to do when a baby is fighting sleep
No matter what the underlying issue is, getting your newborn to sleep can be tricky. Here are our best sleep expert tips on what to do when a baby is fighting sleep:
Follow baby's sleep cues
By keeping track of signs that your baby is ready to sleep - whether that's yawning, stretching, or shutting their eyes - you can keep to their body's natural rhythm.
Every baby is unique, so your baby's sleep cues might be totally different from another's - this is where your parental intuition can come in as you determine when exactly your little one is drifting off.
Use a Nested Bean Sleep Sack
Stick to a feeding schedule
This contributes to the consistency of your baby's sleep schedule and can help to reinforce sleep time. For instance, if a feed is followed by a nap, this helps the baby understand when to sleep.
Of course, this is up to your baby's age and your own personal schedule - newborn babies won't have the same routine as 12-month-olds.
Maintain a soothing sleep training plan
Bedtime can be a source of stress for parents, but by ensuring that this is a relaxing, peaceful experience for all involved, your baby is more likely to fall asleep.
Try introducing elements like soothing bedtime stories, lullabies, and gentle music into your bedtime routine. Not only can this help you calm your baby to sleep, but you might find yourself soothed too!
Keep a consistent sleep routine
Whatever sleep training method works best for you and your baby, you want to make sure that you're consistent with it every night. This is to avoid any confusion for baby, and to gently reinforce that certain actions mean it's time for sleep!
Keep the nursery conducive to sleep
By creating a peaceful atmosphere with dimmed lights, closed curtains, and no blaring screens, you can help your baby sleep by more clearly associating going to the nursery with going to sleep.
Livelier playtime should stay outside of the nursery this helps to reinforce the idea that going to bed means going to sleep.
Making use of these tips could be the first step to calmer evenings, a steadier schedule, and most importantly, a happier baby.
There is nothing more soothing for an overtired newborn than a warm bath. The heat helps to relax their little bodies, and the water can be very calming. This is a great way to help them get some much-needed sleep.
Baby fighting sleep: Key Takeaways
Babies fight sleep for a variety of reasons the seven most common being separation anxiety, overtiredness, overstimulation, teething, hitting a milestone, traveling and discomfort or illness.
To help a baby that seems to be fighting sleep you should keep the nursery conducive to sleep and maintain a soothing sleep training plan.
A weighted sleep sack like the Zen One helps babies sleep longer by mimicking the soothing effect of your touch. Click here to learn more about the Zen One sleep sack.
Common Questions About Baby Fighting Sleep:
Why do babies fight sleep?
There are a few reasons why babies might fight sleep, even when they're clearly exhausted. For one, they may be overtired from being up all day and not getting enough naps. This can make it hard for them to settle down at night. Additionally, babies are often more active at night, when they have more energy and are less likely to be distracted by daytime activities. This means that they may not be able to fall asleep as easily as they would during the day.
How to put a baby to sleep in 40 seconds?
To put a baby to sleep in 40 seconds, create a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. This will help signal to your baby that it is time to sleep. Make sure the environment is conducive to sleep, with a dark, quiet room and a comfortable temperature. Try to put your baby in a comfortable position for sleep, on their back in a firm mattress. And don't forget to soothe your baby with gentle touches and calming words
How to get an overtired newborn to sleep?
To help your overtired baby to sleep try rocking them or walking with them. This can help soothe them and make them feel more relaxed. You can also try singing to them or playing soft music. If your baby is still having trouble sleeping, you can try giving them a warm bath. This can help them relax their muscles and make them feel sleepy.