Ten Reasons Why Do Babies Fight Sleep

It’s bedtime, and you’re trying to help your baby fall asleep. You know they’re tired, but no matter what you do, your little one insists on keeping their eyes open. The question you’re asking is, “why?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help your little one fall asleep, especially if you understand some of the reasons that your baby fights to stay awake.

Is My Baby Fighting Sleep?

Babies fight sleep for many reasons. Most people will explain this problem by saying your little one is overtired, not tired enough, or teething, but there are many more possible explanations for your little one’s refusal to sleep.

The first thing that you need to figure out is if your baby is fighting sleep. Sometimes, it might seem like it takes forever for your little one to fall asleep, but it may not be as bad as you think. You might just need to find a better way to help your little one learn to sleep on their own.

It’s normal for babies to take a little while before they fall asleep. After all, adults usually can’t fall asleep immediately after they lie down. However, when your baby is fighting sleep, it will take much longer. Instead of a few sleepy coos, you might hear the sounds of playing or fussing.

It should take less than 30 minutes for your infant to fall asleep. However, a baby fighting sleep can take 30 minutes to one hour before they go to sleep. 

Is It Normal for Babies to Wake Up at Night?

Babies sleep a lot. When they’re first born, they have a lot of growing to do, so they mainly eat and sleep. As they get older, babies still eat a lot during the day, but they take fewer naps. However, they get better at sleeping through the night.

Most babies are able to sleep through the night by the time they’re between four and six months. If your little one is feeling well and their stomach is full when you put them to bed, they should be able to sleep all night. 

On the other hand, newborns have small stomachs, and they process their food pretty quickly, which means they need more to eat. So your newborn will need to wake up every two to three hours for a feeding.

Depending on your little one’s age, it’s perfectly normal for them to wake up in the middle of the night. 

Why Is My Little One Fighting Sleep?

If your little one is fighting sleep, putting them to bed can be an ordeal. However, it can sometimes help to figure out why your little one is fighting sleep. Take a look at these reasons why a baby may fight sleep.

1. They’re Overtired

Good sleep hygiene is important for every age. Babies can’t tell time, but they can learn routines. They have windows of time where it’s easier for them to fall asleep. A good routine helps them learn what happens next.

If a baby is sleepy but they miss this window, then your baby can become fussy and irritated. It may become harder for an infant to sleep. 

2. They’re Undertired

Sometimes, babies have the opposite problem. Your little one might be fighting sleep because they don’t need to sleep yet. Usually, babies have this problem as a result of something else. It might be because they took a longer nap than usual, or they took a nap too close to bedtime.

3. They’re Overstimulated

If you haven’t already noticed, babies are easily distracted, even when they’re sleepy. Sometimes, a baby’s environment can have so much going on that they have difficulty falling asleep. There can be a number of reasons why your baby is overstimulated. 

If there’s a lot to see, loud noises, or playtime occurs too close to bedtime, then a little one can have difficulty winding down. It might also be because they’re uncomfortable. If the room is too hot or cold, your little one might find it difficult to fall asleep.

4. There’s a Change in Routine

Just like adults, babies form expectations of how their days will go. If something messes up that routine, your little one might find it more difficult to fall asleep, especially if they’re in a new environment or miss their sleep window. 

Babies might also fight sleep if you try to put them down in a way that’s different than how you’ve done it before. For example, if your little one is used to nursing themself to sleep, they will be more likely to fight sleep if you try to put them down without nursing (after they’re full, of course). 

5. They Have an Active Personality

Sometimes your baby might have trouble falling asleep just because it’s a part of their personality. Some babies are more active than others, and active babies are more likely to fight sleep.

If your baby needs more activity to sleep well at night, then ensure you provide ample opportunities for play and exploration each day.

6. They Aren’t Feeling Well

If your little one isn’t feeling well, they might have trouble falling asleep. A cold or allergies can make it tough for your baby to settle down.

Teething is one of the more common causes of sleeping problems for babies. Since teething causes sore gums, your little one might be too uncomfortable to sleep, especially if the tooth is about to erupt.

7. They Have Separation Anxiety

When your little one is around nine months, they start to understand object permanence. They’re beginning to realize that you exist even when they can’t see you, so when they can’t see you, they start to get worried, which makes it difficult for them to sleep.

8. They’ve Reached a New Milestone

If you’ve been talking to parents or reading about care for babies to prepare yourself, you’ve probably come across the term “sleep regression.” When babies hit a growth spurt or learn how to do something new, like walking, they can’t focus on sleep and the new thing.

That’s why babies may go through a sleep regression. After they’ve mastered their new skill or finished growing, they should be able to sleep normally again. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out.

9. They Drop a Nap

As your little one grows, they won’t need to nap as often, so your baby will drop a nap every few months or so. Their other naps might grow a little bit longer, but dropping a nap means that your little one is adjusting to a new sleep schedule, so it may be more difficult for them to fall asleep.

10. They Haven’t Developed a Circadian Rhythm Yet

A circadian rhythm is a cycle that regulates the body during a 24-hour period. When babies are first born, they don’t have one. They eat, sleep, and wake up as needed. Circadian rhythms start to develop when babies are close to six weeks old.

However, these rhythms take time to mature, so your baby’s circadian rhythm probably won’t be established until they are between three to six months old. Every baby is different, though, so it may be sooner or later.


How To Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

We know that being a mother can be difficult. Parents can find it hard to find the time to sleep, especially if their baby struggles to fall asleep. Sleep deprivation isn’t fun for anyone. 

Here are several ways to help your baby sleep.


A bedtime routine is a great way to help your little one fall asleep, especially if they’re more active. You can help your little one wind down for the night with a solid bedtime routine.

Some good activities to implement into your bedtime routine are:

  • Storytime
  • Quiet play
  • Soft singing
  • Bathtime
  • Cuddling

Adjust Bedtimes

Sometimes, the best way to help your little one fall asleep when you want them to is to start slow. You should adjust their bedtime and naps depending on how much sleep your baby needs. If it's too early or too late, your baby might not sleep as well.

Remove Stimulants From the Room

To help your baby wind down for the night, you may need to adjust things in their room to help them sleep better. Add blackout curtains to block light and white noise by using a white noise machine.

Make Sure Your Baby Is Comfortable

When putting your little one to sleep, you should make sure that they're full, their diaper is clean, and the room temperature is cool.

Know When Your Little One Is Tired

One of the best ways to make sure your baby doesn’t fight sleep is to know when they’re tired. 

Every baby will have their own combination of signals, but here are a few common sleepy signs:

  • Pulling on their ears or hair)
  • Glassy stare
  • Rubbing eyes and face
  • Adorably tiny yawns
  • Fussing
  • Lull in activity
  • Arching their back
  • Losing interest


Part of helping your little one fall asleep is making sure they take enough naps during the day too. It’s important to have a napping schedule that allows for wide enough wake windows. You don’t want to put a nap too close to bedtime.

Play During the Day

Just like being active helps adults fall asleep, older babies need stimulation and activity too. Playtime is important for your little one’s development and helps them get rid of some of their energy.

Help Your Baby Know You’re There

Since separation anxiety can be another reason your little one is fighting sleep, it’s important to help your little one understand that you're there for them, but it’s time to go to sleep.

Singing a lullaby or placing a hand on your baby’s chest can also help to reassure them if they’re having trouble sleeping.


Cuddling is bonding time for you and your baby. Help your baby wind down with a little cuddling before bed. Set your baby down in their bed before they fall asleep, so they can learn how to sleep on their own. 

Make Sure Your Baby Is Feeling Well

Although you can’t control everything affecting your baby’s ability to fall asleep, you should check to ensure your baby is feeling okay. If they’re teething or have a cold, your baby will need some extra coddling to help them fall asleep, which is okay.

Helping Your Little One Sleep Better

Every baby is different, but sometimes getting your little one to fall asleep can be tricky. They may be going through a tough stage developmentally, like teething, or they might need a change in routine or environment to help them wind down for the night.

There are many reasons your little one could be fighting sleep, but there are also ways to help your baby fall asleep easily. Depending on the cause of the problem, you can tailor a routine, a bedroom, and a schedule to what your little one needs to be a happy and well-rested baby.



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