3 Reasons Why Babies Might Be Fighting Sleep

Do you find that your little one starts crying as soon as you try to put him/her to sleep? This could be because he/she is actually fighting sleep. Babies sleep in 45-minute sleep cycles and can take up to 20 minutes to reach deep sleep. So, if your baby starts crying after 5 or 20 minutes after you lay him/her down there is definitely a problem. 

What makes your baby fight sleep? Here are a few common reasons why babies tend to fight sleep.  

  1. Your Baby Might Be Hungry

Hunger is probably an obvious reason why babies tend to fight sleep, which we can sometimes easily pick up on. It might, however, be harder to notice with babies who are transitioning to solid food. Sometimes your baby might not be getting enough solid food to satisfy their growing pains, and this makes them quite miserable. 

Although babies are small, they eat a lot more often than adults. However, you should pay attention to how much you give them during feeding time. They will typically eat what they need, so you should never limit the amount you give them or overfeed them. How will you know? Simply pay attention to your child and you will know when he/she has had enough. 

  1. Your Baby Might Be Overtired or Not Tired Enough

Contrary to popular belief, being overtired does not help babies to fall asleep easier. In this case, they become more uncomfortable and end up fighting sleep. This results in the twisting and turning, waking up frequently during the night or sleeping for shorter periods. When babies miss their sleep window, that moment when they are drowsy enough to drift off into dreamland, they miss out on sleep. And, the more sleep they miss, the more tired they become. 

On the other hand, if your baby is not tired enough it will also be difficult to get him/her to go to sleep. Like us adults, it will be hard for your baby to fall asleep if he/she is already well-rested.

In order to prevent under-tiredness and over-tiredness, you will need to know the best wake times for your baby - that time in between sleep that your baby is active and responsive.  And, as your baby gets older, make adjustments to his/her sleep schedule. 

Here are a few wake time recommendations, according to The Baby Sleep Site.

 0 to 1 month   – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 40 minutes max.

1 to 2 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 40-60 minutes max.

2 to 3 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 60-80 minutes max.

3 to 4 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 60-90 minutes max.

4 to 6 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 1 hour 15 minutes-1 hour and 45 minutes.

6-8 months: Look for wakeful periods to begin to stretch to 2.5 hours without becoming overtired, provided that the naps are not too short. Nap duration is less of a factor now. The first nap of the day will still need to occur a bit earlier(within 2 hours).

8-10 months – Wake time = 2 to 3.5 hours  

  1. Your Baby Might Be Experiencing Separation Anxiety

As babies get older, they become familiar with your routines. This includes getting accustomed to spending time with you, being swaddled, cuddled, etc. Any break in this norm can cause your baby to become anxious. This anxiety can manifest in the form of clinginess, crying when you leave the room, increased nighttime wakes, and of course, fighting or resisting sleep. This type of behavior typically tends to affect babies between 6 and 10 months of age.

If you find that your baby cries as soon as you place him/her in their crib after being cuddled to sleep, this can be a sign of separation anxiety. Most parents pick up on this whenever they try to leave a room because the crying would stop as soon as they pick up the baby. So, by the time they take the child to daycare, it is no surprise that they also display this behavior. This anxiety cripples your baby’s ability to fall asleep, and to get to a state of deep sleep. 

While there is nothing you can truly do to prevent this, you can cause a smoother transition with your child. Instead of leaving them alone immediately, you can remain in the room with them for a few moments or reverse their anxiety by making them laugh. However you choose to deal with this, just know that you are not the only one that has this experience and your child’s anxiety will ease as soon as they get a hang of the new routine. 

Each child is different, and each situation is also unique. But, no matter what causes your baby to fight sleep at night, always pay attention to the solutions that work and those that don't. And, of course, make the relevant adjustments.