The Top 3 Reasons your Baby is Fighting Sleep

By Amanda Archibald

October 16, 2019

My name is Amanda and I am The Mama Coach in Vancouver, BC. I am a mom to one beautiful little girl, a Perinatal Registered Nurse, an IBCLC Lactation Consultant, a Sleep Consultant and a Prenatal Instructor. I can’t wait to help you reach your goals as a family.

I am sure every Mama has had a time (or two or three or four..) where your baby has resisted falling asleep at bedtime or for a nap. This is such a common question we get, “why is my baby fighting me to go to sleep.” As a mom, it can be really frustrating and disheartening when you know your little one is tired but they won’t seem to settle into sleep and we just want to find the answer….

So here are my top 3 reasons why your baby is resisting sleep:

1. Timing is off

This can come in two forms, overtired and under tired. Being overtired is usually the most common reason a child will resist falling asleep. When a baby has stayed awake way too long for their age we miss the sleepy window. At this point their bodies enter a fight or flight mode producing adrenaline and cortisol, this results in their bodies being on “high alert.” They feel like they need to stay awake because of the hormonal control which leads to resisting sleep and once your baby does fall asleep they often stay in a lighter phase of sleep resulting in more waking. Under tired can also lead to sleep resistance and this makes a lot of sense, if your baby is no longer tired at the same time they will struggle to fall asleep. It may be that they require 15-30 minutes more of awake time in order to be tired enough to fall asleep smoothly. 

2. Temperament 

I usually refer to these types of babies as having FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Sometimes very perceptive and social babies will resist sleep because the just don’t want to miss a minute of having fun and spending time with you. Being awake is way more fun and in general babies with this temperament can have a harder time falling asleep.  Try to embrace this characteristic if this is your child, you may require more wind downtime before sleep and if there is lots of stimulation or visitors I would suggest moving somewhere quiet for 15 minutes before bedtime or night to have someone on one cuddle and calm time. 

3. Separation Anxiety

This is the least common cause of a child resisting sleep but can definitely occur in surges. Most of the time you have a child who would normally fall asleep well but then you may have a week or two where falling asleep seems harder in general. This is usually the separation anxiety issue. This is often presented around 9-10-month-olds and can peak around 18 months as well. Check-in and provide comfort but try to avoid adding in new things or reactions at this point. 

Resistance to sleep is a really common issue and as your baby grows older it’s very typical for a toddler to say “no, no, no, I am not tired” and then proceed to fall asleep shortly after. Some babies are more inclined to sleep and some temperaments can be a little trickier than others. If you have a baby struggling with this don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Mama Coach for some support and a sleep plan. 

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