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As an adult, the behavior doesn’t make sense. We would be happy to sleep anytime, anywhere, if that were possible. But babies don’t always see eye-to-eye with adults on the subject. Sometimes, when your baby has a mind to, they will fight you at bedtime even if they should be drowsy and ready for sleep. So why do babies fight sleep?

What are the reasons your baby fights sleep? And what can do about it so both of you get a restful night? Let’s take a closer look.

Why Do Babies Fight Their Sleep?

When all you can think about is how wonderful several hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds to you, it can be easy to see how your baby’s behavior can be frustrating. But you know you can’t rationalize with a baby fighting sleep. But you can rationalize once you understand why it’s happening. Here are some of the most common reasons.

  • Your baby is overtired. We’ve all been there. We are so tired but our brain just can’t turn off, so we don’t sleep. But when they can’t understand what’s happening, your baby fights sleep. This is why you need to pay attention to the sleep window and put your baby down for bed or for a nap when they’re drowsy but not crying.
  • Your baby isn’t tired enough. Of course, the opposite can always be true, too. Time awake will increase as your baby grows, so maybe your baby has already had plenty of sleep and needs more wake time between naps and bed.
  • Your baby doesn’t want to be away from you. Separation anxiety can also cause a baby to fight their sleep. This is often notable in the sleep regression that can occur for some babies as their brain develops. They don’t want to be away from you, even though you need to establish bedtime rules.
  • It may be your baby’s personality. While you may not think about it this way, it is possible that your baby’s personality could be causing them to stay awake and fight sleep. You might have an extrovert on your hands. Perceptive and social babies may have equated awake with fun and are less likely to give in to sleep. They have already established a fear of missing out.


How to Stop Your Baby Fighting Sleep

So now that we’ve answered the questions “why do babies fight their sleep,” it’s time to take a closer look at what you might be able to do about it as a parent who surely doesn’t want to fight your own sleep. Here are some steps to consider.

  1. Move bedtime to an earlier or later time depending on the reason your baby fights sleep.
  2. Create a regular nap routine to include stories or quiet time.
  3. Adjust the feeding schedule to adapt for more awake or more sleep time.
  4. Give your toddler a break if they’re fighting sleep.
  5. Learn how to manage separation anxiety without creating other problems.

If you’re concerned about the ways your baby is fighting sleep, you can always seek the professional advice of your pediatrician. Don’t worry, they’ve seen and heard everything with their years of training and experience. There isn’t much you can say or do that will be new or that they can’t offer you advice. Know that you’re not alone and you’re not the first or only parent to experience your baby fighting sleep, so try some new things and rest easier.

Consult your doctor if you’re struggling with this experience to ensure that there aren’t any underlying causes or problems. Then, once that is ruled out, try some of these tips to answer the question why do babies fight sleep.

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