Why Do Babies Fight Sleep? [6 Signs Your Baby Is Doing It]

why do babies fight sleep

A baby’s sleep is very important for its development, but ironically the bedtime routine is where most babies create problems and constantly fight for sleep. This is why many mothers have this question,’ why do babies fight sleep’ and is there a way to stop fighting sleep? These will be answered here.

There are many reasons babies fight sleep. One major reason why babies fight sleep is that they are overtired, which causes trouble settling at baby bedtime. When babies have been up longer than their tiny bodies can handle, they are said to be overtired. The stress reaction that is triggered by this makes it more difficult for the infant to go to sleep by causing the production of chemicals like cortisol.

Another common reason is that many babies have separation anxiety, and they think that falling asleep at bedtime will make everyone around them leave, which is why they can be seen fighting sleep at bedtime.

One thing to remember is not to employ the cry-it-out method to get the baby to stop fighting sleep since it can cause sleep problems and even lead to sleep deprivation.

6 Signs Your Baby Is Fighting sleep

To meet the needs of their quickly developing bodies, babies sleep a great deal. Their sleep is divided between naps during the day and sleeps at night, both of which might be met with resistance by newborns who are overtired. These six indicators might indicate that your kid is resisting a nap if their sleeping patterns seem to require additional attention.

They Cry a Lot

One common sign that a baby is fighting sleep is that the baby starts crying. While it is common for newborn babies to cry, if you notice this happening again and again near bedtime, this could be a sign that the baby has been too tired for some time now and is now having a hard time going to sleep.

They Wake Up Immediately

Another sign that your baby fights sleep is how much sleep they get. A baby’s sleep is known to be really deep, but if you notice that your baby wakes up immediately after falling asleep or has a very light sleep and wakes up at the first hint of noise, know that your baby can be fighting sleep.

They Stop Moving

This usually points toward the fact that your baby is overtired. If you notice that during sleep time your baby goes as rigid as a block of wood, this may be because they are overtired.

They Arch Their Backs

This is also a common sign that shows that the baby is fighting sleep. It is very important that the baby’s sleep cues are kept in mind, and their sleep routines are maintained properly because older babies can tolerate more wake time, and this problem will keep on going if not stopped.

They’re Raising Fists

Your infant may be resisting sleep when they curl their fist and appear to be getting ready to enter a baby boxing match. Even though they are probably too exhausted to fight, if you observe this sleep-fighting symptom, you may need to consider changing bedtime or nap time.

Baby Takes A Long Time To Fall Asleep

Your baby may be resisting sleep if it takes them longer than usual to fall asleep after following your usual sleeping schedule. For instance, if you used to rock or hold your infant until they fell asleep in your arms, then put them in their crib, and they slept for a few minutes, but now it takes them over 30 minutes or more to do so. Take it as a cue to start training your baby to calm themselves to sleep when they start to resist the method you use.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Knowing the cause of your child’s sleep difficulties will be helpful in resolving the situation and ensuring that your child receives much-needed rest.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety often starts at approximately six months of age and is a natural stage of a child’s development. Your baby may begin to cry when someone else is holding them or when you lay them down and leave the area. This might prevent your child from falling asleep.

You may feel resentful or guilty if you see your child deal with separation anxiety, but this is a perfectly normal stage of growth. Your kid will eventually learn that they can be at ease without you around and that you will eventually come back.


Interestingly, one of the main causes of your baby’s sleep rebellion is overtiredness. Babies who don’t get enough sleep may actually become more irritable and grumpy, making it difficult for them to go to sleep.

Fighting sleep is probably brought on by a predictable phase. You can assist your baby in resolving the problem after you’ve discovered it. You might consider keeping an eye out for key predictors of tiredness to prevent this paradoxical scenario. For instance, it could be preferable to put your child to bed earlier rather than later if you observe their eye rubbing more frequently.


Overstimulation, which is on the other side of the spectrum from overtiredness, has a similar result: an anxious, fussy infant. This might happen when a baby experiences too many feelings at once. For instance, it could occur after a visit from many people or after a noisy event.

As you are aware, it may be difficult and time-consuming to calm an overstimulated infant; thus, wherever feasible, prevention is the best course of action. You may try to prevent this by keeping your child away from uncomfortable situations and loud noises, as well as by limiting the number of people they spend time with at once.


Even if you make every effort to keep your child healthy and cheerful, occasionally, something such as a cold or virus might creep in and make sleep more challenging. Watch out for any additional signs of diseases, including colds or ear infections.

These conditions often improve with some care and consideration, but since sleep is so important to healing, a newborn who struggles with sleep may require more time to heal. You should speak with your physician for expert help if your baby’s illness doesn’t get better and is affecting their sleep.

Not Tired Enough

Given that they are not properly tired, your baby might not be ready to sleep yet. This may be a one-time occurrence brought on by a nap that’s longer than normal, or it might be an indication that they’re growing and changing, resulting in altered sleep patterns and bedtime routines.


While teething typically begins at about six months of age in newborns, it is totally common for it to begin as early as four months or as late as one year. Sometimes while this may be completely painless, many newborns nonetheless feel stiffness, rashes, and a low fever—symptoms that make it difficult to fall asleep.

Too Much Noise

Some newborns can nap throughout a construction area, while others require perfect stillness. Although, as adults, we may well not immediately notice when the surroundings are loud, our newborns most definitely do.

Focus on the sounds in your child’s room if they frequently have trouble falling asleep. It may be a familiar sound, like the rumbling of cars on the local highway or the shutting and opening of doors by neighbors. Even if you don’t realize it, your baby will hear what you or your whole family are up to in the other room. Try your best to stop the sounds if you suspect they are why you notice your baby fighting sleep.

How Do I Get My Baby To Stop Fighting Sleep?

How Do I Get My Baby To Stop Fighting Sleep

Observe Sleep Cues

Keep an eye out for your baby’s sleep cues to prevent an exhausted or under-tired infant. You may put toddlers to bed at the perfect hour by using these cues indicating that they are getting very tired.

Your kid will have its own unique sleep cues, although they frequently include:

  1. Crankiness
  2. Yawning
  3. Moving gently
  4. Looking in the distance
  5. Becoming bored
  6. Eye rubbing

Additionally, crying is likely a symptom that your child is overtired. Take them to their bed as soon as possible before they start crying. Your parental instinct can help you here because every infant is different and may show completely different sleep signs.

Make Them Feel At Ease

It might be difficult to fall asleep if you aren’t comfortable. The same is true for your child. Always ensure your kid has a fresh diaper and doesn’t go to bed starving in order to avoid discomfort. The nursery should be kept between 67 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with blackout drapes to block out light and white noise to block out outside and inside sounds.

Lastly, make sure your kid is sleeping on a secure and comfy mattress. Considering soft surfaces are unsafe for babies to sleep on, a hard cot mattress is the best option.

Set Up A Bedtime Routine

Your baby will learn when it’s time to rest and relax when you establish and adhere to a bedtime and nap routine.

Choose a variety of relaxing activities, such as rocking the infant, reading a book, singing, and kissing the child goodnight. To assist a child in going to sleep, try giving them a bath, reading to them, or snuggling with them in their favorite seat. Be consistent by performing the same actions at the same time every night.

Put Your Sleepy Baby To Bed

Teaching your infant how to drift off to sleep by themselves if they get up at any time of the night is a crucial part of promoting healthy sleep.

To do this, place your baby inside the crib when they’re sleepy, but not asleep, instead of nursing them to sleep and moving them there. This can teach them how to fall asleep on their own, away from your arms.

Discover Your Baby’s Wake Cycle

Discover your baby’s waking windows and schedule naps and bedtimes properly to help prevent the baby from fighting sleep.

Doctors advise a newborn or toddler to stay up for a wake window of time before falling asleep. 

  1. Establish a routine for your child.
  2. Note the duration and intensity of their sleep.
  3. To narrow down the awake area, keep an eye out for sleep indicators.
  4. As per your child’s needs, modify the wake windows.

Adjust Nap Time

Moving the very last nap farther away from their normal bedtime is another technique to stop your baby from having trouble falling asleep at night.

Even if you make every effort to keep your baby busy during their waking periods, a nap that is taken too soon before sleep may leave them with only sufficient stamina that helps a baby fight sleep.

Try to reschedule their naps so that they roughly correspond with their times of daytime exhaustion, but do so in a way that still gives them plenty of opportunity to work off all of their adrenaline before bed.

You might even have to occasionally skip naps with your older baby in order to get them ready for better nighttime sleep.

Rock Your Child

Rocking armchairs have been used for a very long time since they not only provide pleasure for adults but also soothe and calm newborns.

Studies have shown that moving around rather than lying motionless makes it easier for children and adults to fall asleep. When your baby isn’t quite ready for bed, even a subtle movement might help them unwind and calm.

Bedtime Works Wonders

No one can deny the importance of good sleep, both for newborns and new moms. Not getting enough sleep can have negative impacts on the overall well-being of the baby, so it is essential to have your baby sleep on time. By creating a restful environment at bedtime and using the sleep tips given above, many sleep problems can be easily avoided by the parents, and both they and the baby can get a much-needed nap.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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