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Why Do Babies Fight their Sleep? Plus Helpful Solutions!

Why Do Babies Fight their Sleep? Plus Helpful Solutions!

As a parent or caregiver, you must have encountered times when the baby is fussy and yawning but fights sleep. These moments are characterized by agitation, crying, and outright resistance to sleep. So, why do babies fight their sleep even though it is way past their nap time?

Babies fight their sleep due to reasons like exhaustion, illnesses, hunger, overstimulation, and separation anxiety. Explore these reasons before losing sleep over being unable to put your baby to sleep.

It must be stressful to do everything right for your baby for them to protest sleep. Such fussiness takes away from the rather palliated bedtime routine, confusing parents.

If you are having trouble putting your baby to sleep even when they should be deep in dreamland, here are common reasons and solutions for them;

sleep baby dreaming

Reasons Why Babies Fight Their Sleep

It is common for children to be fussy when you put them down to sleep. However, when this fussiness heightens even after crossing out a diaper rash or hunger, it becomes a point of concern. Here are common reasons why your baby is fighting their sleep:


As counterintuitive as it sounds, an overtired baby is more likely to find trouble going to sleep. Most people expect you to fall asleep faster when you are tired. For babies, overtiredness reduces their sleep latency, disrupting their sleep cycle.

As a result, babies find trouble getting in line with their sleep patterns; missing their sleep window messes with their systems. They get fussy when you try to put them down to sleep.


Trying to put to sleep a baby who is not tired enough is equally as problematic. Its major causes include a preceding nap lasting longer than usual or your rush to put them to sleep. When this happens, the baby may fight sleep because they are not tired enough to sleep.


Excessive sensory stimulation before or during sleep may cause a baby to fight their sleep. It is similar to when adults crave a conducive environment to fall asleep. For instance, we avoid drinking coffee or staring at screens at least 60 minutes before bedtime.

Flashy lights and loud, clicking noises may cause a child's journey to sleep to be more difficult. Also, allowing a child to have a stimulating play activity just before sleep can pose a threat.

When babies realise too much activity around them, it deters them from focusing on their sleep. The distractions cause them to fight sleep since they are curious about their surroundings.

Growth And Developmental Milestones

When babies grow, their sleep patterns change, thanks to hitting milestones such as sitting, teething, crawling, and walking. Younger babies sleep for longer hours compared to older babies. The more they grow, the wider their sleep latency gets as well.

As they become more active, babies become interested in doing activities such as crawling at the expense of their sleep. By the time they hit two years, they get sneaky in fighting sleep. I once put my 2-year-old nephew to sleep only to come back to find him babying his toys.

Separation Anxiety

Babies get clingy when they are about 7 to 18 months old. At this point, they can identify you even across rooms and always want you around them.

When separation anxiety catches up with them, babies fight sleep since they avoid being left alone in their crib. It can make it harder for babies to fall asleep even when they are very sleepy.


Your baby could be fighting sleep due to an illness. Parents may overrule an illness if its symptoms are subtle. If the illness makes the child too uncomfortable to sleep, they get fussy and fight their sleep.

The Baby's Environment

If the room is either too hot or too cold for the baby's comfort, they may fight sleep. In addition, if you overdress them to the point where they are sweating, it can pose a problem.

Babies crave comfort in their sleep. A change in temperature, aeration, and quality of the fabric that they sleep in may make them fight their sleep. When this happens, they are trying to communicate their discomfort to you.

Helpful Solutions To Babies Fighting Their Sleep

Now that you know the potential reasons why your baby is fighting sleep, let us look at the solutions:

Master Your Baby's Wake Hours And Sleep Routine

Mastering your baby's wake window during every stage of their life will help you know when they should be asleep. As they grow, their wake windows change.

Master this pattern and purpose of putting them to bed when it is time. Also, remember to wake them up when their sleep hours elapse. By doing so, you are putting them in a sleep routine where they naturally fall into it.

The main benefit of putting your baby in a sleep routine is that it prevents them from being overtired. In addition, it prevents them from being not tired enough when it is time for them to sleep.

Identify Signs of Baby Sleepiness

Make sure that you can distinguish your baby's sleepiness from tiredness or boredom. Knowing these signs will help you know when your child ought to be put down to sleep.

Common signs to look out for include eye rubbing, constant yawning, drowsiness, and being drawn back.

Practice Separation

Separation anxiety happens to both the child and the parent. To reduce clinginess, be intentional about stepping away from your baby for a few hours. You can start by staying in a separate room for about an hour. It can progress to you stepping out to run errands for as long as possible.

Intentional separation makes the child accustomed to not seeing the parent or caregiver throughout. They realize that even though you are leaving, you will return. When it is time for them to sleep, they will be calm as they are already used to separation.

Distinguish Daytime Activities from Nighttime ones

Allow your child to have a lot of active sessions during the day. These may include playing with toys, video games, and exposure to sunshine. On the other hand, tone down on nighttime activities to avoid overstimulation right before bed.

For instance, you can make it a rule that the baby should not be allowed to play with toys 2 hours before bed. You can also prevent them from watching television or playing video games around this time. Replace this by reading them a soothing story or singing them lullabies to sleep.

By getting your baby used to certain routines around stimulation and play, you prevent them from being hyperactive during bedtime. Make sure that you avoid playing loud music or television shows when it is time for the baby to sleep.

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Create A Conducive Physical Environment

Just like adults, babies can be sensitive to the state of the place they sleep. Babies being sensitive to cold is not an excuse for you to choke them in layers of cloth.

Avoid layering your baby with winter clothes during summer. Doing this can make them sweat, causing discomfort in their sleep. You could avoid this by keeping them in warm but breathable outfits as you put them to sleep.

Keep the bed and its fabric airy, fresh, and comfortable. In addition, fix any creaking sounds on the bed or the baby's bedroom door.


Babies fighting their sleep can bring worry and confusion to parents and caregivers. However, analyzing the root cause of the fussiness will help you devise feasible solutions.

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