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Is Your Baby Fighting Sleep? 8 Common Reasons And How To Cope

 baby fighting sleep

Is your baby fighting sleep? Parenting includes all sorts of joys and challenges, and sleep woes are one common challenge that nearly all parents run into at some point.

If your baby is having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone! (Of course, knowing you’re in good company doesn’t make the sleepless nights any easier.)

It can be difficult to figure out exactly why your baby refuses to sleep, especially if you're in the throes of sleep deprivation yourself! In this article, we’ll try to help you get to the bottom of it. We’ll discuss possible reasons your baby is fighting sleep as well as how to help your little one sleep better so you can all get the rest you need.

Why Your Baby Is Fighting Sleep

Here, we’ll go over several possible causes that could contribute to your baby fighting sleep or having trouble falling asleep (though it’s not an exhaustive list by any means).

Play detective to see if you can get to the bottom of what might be causing problems. You know your baby best.

Just keep in mind that sometimes you might not be able to put your finger on the exact reason for those napless days and sleepless nights, and that’s OK, too. This phase will pass!

1) Undertired

 up close of baby fighting sleep

If your baby is fighting sleep, it may simply be because they are undertired. That means they simply aren’t tired enough to doze off — as simple as that.

2) Overtired

There may be times when keeping your baby awake so that they’ll be tired enough to fall asleep later seems like a good idea. However, there is such a thing as being overtired, and this tactic often backfires.

In fact, babies who are too tired can sometimes have more difficulty calming down and falling asleep when it’s finally bedtime.

What does an overtired little one act like? Exhausted toddlers might act extra cranky, unreasonable, or clumsy, while littler babies can be unreasonable in their own way by losing interest, batting toys away, and crying.

3) Day-Night Confusion

 Mom holding baby fighting sleep

If your newborn seems to come alive at night when you and everyone else wants to be sleeping, they might have a bit of day-night confusion.

It takes time for newborns to adjust to this great big world, and part of that adjustment is getting their internal clock in tune with daytime and nighttime. After all, while they were in mom’s belly, day and night weren’t so different.

4) Sleep Regression

While this is important to consider, you can breathe a sigh of relief — your baby won’t necessarily go through every possible sleep regression.

But if your baby has had a consistent sleep schedule and all of a sudden is putting up a fight at bedtime (or naptime!) or has trouble staying asleep, sleep regression may be the culprit.

Sleep regressions typically happen around developmental milestones, and they may strike at four months, six months, eight to 10 months, one year, 18 months, and two years.

5) Change In Schedule

A change in schedule can throw your baby off enough to make it difficult for them at naptime or bedtime. (Think: Daylight Savings Time or traveling to a different time zone.)

6) Change In Location

While some little ones can fall asleep at the drop of a hat no matter where they are, plenty of babies will raise a fuss if you try to put them down somewhere different than usual.

7) Sickness

It’s important to remember that your baby might not sleep as well when they are feeling under the weather. On the other hand, some babies sleep more when they are sick, so each case is different.

If you have concerns about your baby’s health or the cause of their difficulty sleeping, call your pediatrician.

8) Separation Anxiety

 Mom nose to nose with baby

Separation anxiety usually kicks in around eight or 10 months and again around 18 months. During this time, sleep can be hard to come by because your little one is so busy missing you and makes it crystal clear that they don’t want you to leave.

How To Stop Your Baby Fighting Sleep

If you can get to the bottom of why your baby is fighting sleep, you’ll have a better idea of what steps to take to help them drift off.

Hopefully, the above list helped you think through some possibilities. If you’ve identified a couple of causes, keep reading to find out how to combat the problem.

Even if you aren’t quite sure why your little one won’t snooze, the tips we’ll share below are still baby-sleep basics that can help you help your baby drift off peacefully.

Watch For Sleep Cues

 baby fighting sleep while being held by mom

To avoid an overtired or undertired little one, watch for your baby’s sleep cues. These signs that they are getting tired will help you put them to bed at just the right time.

You’ll have to learn your baby’s particular sleep cues, but they often include:

  • Fussiness
  • Yawning
  • Moving slowly
  • Staring off into space
  • Losing interest
  • Rubbing eyes

In addition, crying can certainly be a sign that your baby is tired, but it’s probably more indicative that your baby is overtired. Ideally, you’ll want to get them to their crib before they start screaming.

Stay On Schedule

It’s important to learn your baby’s natural sleep patterns and stick to a schedule. Babies thrive on routine!

Remember that a baby’s sleep schedule usually has less to do with the time on the clock and more to do with how many hours it’s been since they last woke up. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adapt this schedule as your baby grows and requires less sleep.

Make Them Comfortable

 Baby laying on back in crib

It can be hard to settle in for some sleep if you aren’t comfy. The same goes for your baby. To prevent discomfort, it’s always best practice to make sure your baby has a clean diaper and is not going to bed hungry.

You’ll also want to create an environment that promotes good, safe sleep. Keep the temperature of the nursery somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, use blackout curtains to make the room dark, and turn on white noise to drown out street and house noise.

Last but certainly not least, put your baby to sleep on a mattress that is both comfortable and safe. Since it’s not safe for newborns to sleep on soft surfaces, a firm crib mattress is the way to go. However, a firm mattress doesn’t have to mean an uncomfortable mattress.

The Newton Baby Crib Mattress offers just the right level of comfort, support, and air circulation to keep your baby sleeping safe and sound every night.

 Newton baby crib mattress

This mattress is made without foam, glue, latex, or springs. Instead, we’ve outfitted it with a Wovenaire core, made of 90% air and 10% material that yogurt cartons are made of.

That makes this hypoallergenic mattress 100% breathable, providing comfort for your baby and peace of mind for you when your little one starts rolling over in the middle of the night.

Swaddle Your Newborn

Your newborn may find comfort in the coziness of being swaddled. Try swaddling to help them drift off and stay cozy while they snooze.

Wrap your baby in our Organic Swaddle Blankets, which are breathable to help regulate your baby’s temperature and reduce the risk of overheating.

When should you stop swaddling? Simply put, when it seems like your baby is going to start rolling over. At that point, it’s safer for your baby to snooze in a sleep sack (blankets are still a no-no).

 baby sleeping with pacifier

Create A Bedtime Routine

When you create and stick to bedtime and naptime routines, it will help your baby clue into the fact that it’s time to wind down and rest.

Choose a series of calming activities, like giving a baby massage, reading a book, rocking, singing, and a goodnight kiss.

Put Your Baby Down Sleepy

Part of helping your baby sleep well is showing them how to fall asleep on their own if they wake up during the middle of the night.

To do this, rather than rocking your baby until they’re sound asleep and then tip-toeing them to the crib, put them down when they are drowsy but not fast asleep. This can help them learn how to drift off without being in your arms.

Try Sleep Training

While sleep training isn’t the best fit for every family, keep in mind that there are several different techniques. You may find one that works well for you and your little one.

For more information on sleep training, read our guide here.

Maintain Day-Night Rhythms

To help your newborn combat day-night confusion, maintain normal rhythms for daytime and nighttime. This means sunshine and fun activities during the day and darkness and quiet in the evening.

If you think day-night confusion is part of why your baby is fighting sleep, learn more here.

Sweet Dreams, Little One

 Mom putting to bed baby that is fighting sleep

In this article, we’ve shared a few possible causes of your baby fighting sleep as well as some tips on how to help your sweet one get to sleep easier. With this information under your belt, hopefully, your little one (and you) will be having sweet dreams in no time.

No matter the underlying cause of your baby’s sleep woes, provide them with a comfy, safe place to sleep. For peace of mind for you and safe sleep for your baby, put them down on a Newton Baby Crib Mattress for every nap and at night.

Sweet dreams, little one!

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