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How To Deal with a Baby Who Fights Going to Sleep

Why do babies fight sleep?


If your baby is determined to never shut their eyes and is fighting sleep like a little Samurai warrior, don’t despair. There are several reasons why your baby might be fighting sleep, and many ways you can help fix it.

Why do babies fight sleep?

They’re get overtired

When your little one is really tired, you expect them to go right to sleep, but the truth is being overly tired is the main reason that babies won’t sleep well. If your little one is too tired they will be hyper and cranky. Because they seem hyper, many parents will delay bedtime even longer making the problem worse. 

The solution

Watch for their little signs of sleepiness, and act on them as soon as possible: take your baby away from the stimulation and put them down to sleep. The key things to look for include: red eyes, rubbing eyes, glazed expression, yawning, hiccups, sneezing, turning away from stimulation. Try moving their bedtime a bit earlier, and make sure they have a chance to wind down for about 30 minutes without stimulation, such as a TV. After the wind down time, start your bedtime routine.  Your routine should be quiet, laid back, and focused. It should last no longer then 30 minutes, and be done each night so your baby knows what to expect.

Are they worn out enough?

Especially in older babies and toddlers, it can be possible that they didn’t get out enough of their energy for the day. It’s important to give them plenty of face to face contact, have conversations with them (even though they don’t talk back), get some fresh air, and have plenty of playtime.  Make sure that they are not sleeping too much during the day. By the time your baby is nine months old, they should be down to two naps a day- totaling two to three hours. 

The solution

Look into adjusting your daytime schedule if needed: make more time for face to face playtimes with your baby, get outside as much as you can, and think about cutting out one of the naps - especially if they’re not yet mobile. Don’t let them nap after 4pm, or if you have to- keep it really short. 

Separation anxiety

For babies around 8-10 months old, separation anxiety is a common cause of a sleepless night.  They just don’t want to separate from you and that’ just what bedtime means.  Even babies who have been great sleepers before then, can have separation anxiety and will fight sleep as a result. 

The solution

Separation anxiety can be caused by a normal developmental phase babies go through, and there isn’t much you can do for it.  But if your baby has slept well previously, keep with your bedtime routine as normal and keep in mind it’s just a phase which will pass. Comfort your little one if he needs it, as it’s important to help your little one feel secure by meeting their needs. However, it’s important to try not to create a long-term sleep problem in the process! Resist the urge to pick them up, but pat your little one gently and kiss them goodnight before retreating. You might have to repeat this several times. Keep the atmosphere of the room quiet and calm, don’t turn on the lights.


Some babies can’t resist getting sleepy and falling asleep quickly- others have a drive to play that over takes the desire to sleep. Often those babies who would rather play, are the same ones who were active in the womb.  

The solution

You are not going to be able to change their personality, but that doesn’t mean what you do doesn’t matter. If your baby is needs more comfort, it’s best to keep their daily sleep routines consistent to provide reassurance. If your baby is really active, make sure they’re getting plenty of stimulation during the day and, when it’s time to go to sleep, make sure there isn’t too much noise in the house. Embrace their personality by working with it patiently and keep it in mind as you plan their sleep routine.

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