why do babies fight sleep

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep? Your Guide to Overcoming Baby Bedtime Battles

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Every parent wishes their baby to drift off to sleep without a fuss. Interestingly, that’s often far from reality. Which begs the question; why do babies fight sleep?


This is not a cause for alarm; babies often fight sleep for various congenital reasons. These include developmental milestones, separation anxiety, and physical discomfort.


If you’re curious about why your baby fights sleep, hoping to improve their sleep habits, this guide is for you. I’ll explain various factors for this and provide tips to overcome them.

Let’s proceed!

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep? Exploring the Causes of Babies’ Sleep Resistance

Babies fight sleep for numerous reasons, including separation anxiety, developmental changes, overstimulation, teething, hunger, and sleep regression. Also, illness could be a factor, inducing pain and general discomfort for the baby. While parents do not need to be alarmed, lack of sleep could lead to exhaustion in both parents and babies.

As we continue:

I’ll discuss what triggers these struggles and establish effective ways to manage them. If you’re ready, like me, let’s dive in.

Developmental Changes

First off:

According to MedlinePlus, developmental changes mark significant milestones in a baby’s growth journey. Some of these milestones are teething, crawling, and increased motor development. 


These developmental milestones could bring about considerable impacts on your baby’s sleep. 


Parents can rest assured that they are normal, as they are important markers for healthy growth and development.

So let’s take a look at some of these milestones and how they affect your child’s sleep:

1. Teething


Teething causes discomfort and pain due to increased gum sensitivity or irritability. This often leads to sleep deprivation in babies.


The discomfort from teething intensifies when lying down, making it challenging for babies to sleep peacefully. Also, your baby may become fussier as they experience disrupted sleep patterns.

In that case:

Parents must provide soothing measures like teething toys or gentle gum massages. These measures can help alleviate the discomfort, promoting more restful nights for you and your baby.

2. Crawling 

Crawling contributes to babies fighting sleep due to increased stimulation and newfound mobility. This important developmental milestone causes babies to explore their environment with greater curiosity and independence.


The excitement and physical exertion of crawling can overstimulate their senses, making it very difficult for them to sleep. 

Also, the desire to continue practicing their newfound skill makes it difficult for them to settle down during naps or at bedtime. 

Sounds familiar? So, what can you do?

The secret is: 

Establish consistent bedtime routines and create a calm and soothing environment before bedtime. This helps counteract overstimulation and improve sleep hygiene.

Simple right?

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Overstimulation can significantly impact your baby’s ability to relax and fall asleep. 


Sensory overload, caused by bright lights, loud noises, or excessive activity, can disrupt their natural sleep-wake cycle. 

Here’s why:

According to the Sleep Doctor, bright lights, especially in the evening or close to bedtime, can interfere with melatonin production, the hormone that regulates sleep. This can confuse your baby’s internal clock.

Similarly, an environment with loud noises can keep a baby alert and aroused, making it difficult for them to sleep.

Here are some strategies you can consider to restore a healthy sleep pattern for your baby:

1. Use Dim Lights


Using soft and dim lighting at bedtime helps to create a calming atmosphere for your baby. It stimulates the release of melatonin, promoting a sense of drowsiness and preparing the baby to sleep.

In addition:

Dim lights help create a darker environment, facilitating better sleep for your baby by minimizing the impact of external light sources. Dark curtains or shades can block out external light sources, especially during daytime naps.

Pro Tip:

Avoid exposing your baby to televisions, tablets, or smartphones before bedtime. The bright light and stimulating content can interfere with their ability to fall asleep.

2. Establish a Peaceful Sleep Environment

To begin with:

A peaceful sleep environment minimizes sensory distractions and overstimulation. The calm atmosphere helps babies shift from an alert state to a more relaxed state conducive to sleep.

Some factors that foster this are comfortable beds, white noises, and optimal room temperature


Being present during bedtime gives your child a sense of reassurance and comfort. You can cuddle or rock your baby as part of the soothing process. This assures them of security and promotes relaxation.

3. Follow a Consistent Bedtime Routine 

A consistent bedtime routine serves as a powerful cue for sleep. It helps regulate the baby’s internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences describes the circadian rhythm as various physical, mental, and behavioral changes occurring through a 24-hour cycle.


The circadian rhythm aligns with the desired sleep pattern by establishing a predictable schedule and consistently exposing your baby to the same cues each night. 

This makes it easier for your baby to fall asleep and wake up at appropriate times. 



A hungry baby is an angry baby!

When babies experience hunger, it can result in stomach discomfort, leading to fussiness and restlessness. 

Thus, they may exhibit signs of crankiness, such as squirming or kicking, as their hunger pangs disrupt their ability to sleep peacefully.

In that case:

Parents must address their baby’s hunger needs and adopt strategies to promote a better sleep routine. 

How? Let’s get into it!

1. Consistent Feeding Routine


While the benefits of regular feeding are well-known for growth and nutrition, it is equally crucial for promoting healthy sleep patterns in infants.

Let me explain.

A consistent feeding routine helps regulate a baby’s hunger cues. It ensures that they receive regular and appropriate nourishment throughout the day. 

This way, they are less likely to wake up frequently during the night due to hunger. 


Your baby’s feeding schedule changes as they age, and paying attention to it makes it easier to maintain a consistent feeding routine. 

2. Recognise Hunger Cues


Parents are expected to learn to recognize the hunger cues displayed by their babies. 


These cues include the rooting reflex, sucking on fingers, lips smacking, increased alertness, pouting, hand-to-mouth movements, and restlessness

In addition: 

Crying is a late hunger cue when you don’t feed your baby on time. But every child is unique. So, parents should observe their babies and learn what cues are particular to them.

3. Responsive Feeding 

Responsive feeding refers to parents or caregivers feeding their baby not only as a response to hunger cues but also to meet age-appropriate nutritional needs. Feeding on demand ensures that your baby receives adequate nourishment whenever hunger arises.

This also helps parents meet their child’s dietary and emotional needs, thus promoting healthy sleep patterns.

The best part?

This makes them less likely to fight sleep or wake up at night due to hunger.


It would be best to consider appropriate feeding techniques, such as paced bottle feeding or supporting breastfeeding positions. This helps to ensure the baby’s comfort and minimize the risk of overfeeding.

Separation Anxiety

For starters:

Separation anxiety is a common developmental milestone in babies, according to Unicef. They typically occur around 6 to 8 months of age.

Babies experiencing separation anxiety may fight sleep and resist being separated from their parents. They rely on their parents’ presence or soothing techniques to relax and sleep peacefully.


I have listed foolproof strategies below, which you can implement to alleviate separation anxiety. Some of them include:

  • Establish a consistent and self-soothing bedtime routine that includes reading, gentle music, and cuddling.
  • Introduce an object that carries your scent, such as a blanket or stuffed animal. It could serve as a source of familiarity and comfort during separations.
  • Gradually introduce short separations. Start with brief periods apart, such as leaving the room for a few minutes. Then gradually increase the duration over time. 
  • When the baby displays signs of anxiety, respond to their cues with patience and understanding. Offer verbal reassurance and comforting touch to let them feel safe.

Pro Tip:

If separation anxiety symptoms persist, you should visit a pediatrician for proper guidance and support.

Sleep Regression 

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Sleep regression refers to a sudden disruption in your baby’s sleep routine. Sleep regressions often coincide with developmental milestones like crawling, increased environmental awareness, and teething. 


It is a normal part of your baby’s development, although babies may become more alert and easily stimulated.


This can be challenging for both babies and parents, leading to sleep deprivation and exhaustion.


There are effective strategies you can adopt to help your baby navigate this phase smoothly. Let’s dive in!

  • Establish and maintain a consistent bedtime routine. It signals to the baby that it’s time for sleep, aiding their ability to relax and fall asleep more easily.
  • Ensure the baby’s sleep environment is conducive. Keep the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Also, consider using white noise or gentle lullabies to provide a soothing atmosphere.
  • Introduce self-soothing procedures like gentle massages, white noises, or pacifiers. This can help your baby fall asleep independently when they wake up at night.

Pro Tip:

Parents are expected to follow the Safe Sleep Guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Final Tip: Annie Baby Monitor – Your Baby Sleep Solution Helper

Tired of struggling to put your baby to sleep at night? Let Annie Baby Monitor help you create a peaceful bedtime routine.

This baby monitor has advanced features that can help you understand your baby’s sleep patterns and adjust accordingly.

With these insights, you can soothe your little one into a restful night, transforming bedtime battles into calming moments.

Say goodbye to sleepless nights and embrace the power of Annie Baby Monitor.


Let’s recap:

Babies fight sleep for many reasons, like developmental changes, overstimulation, hunger, separation anxiety, and sleep regression.


Understanding these factors can help parents and caregivers create a conducive sleep environment.

All in all:

Some of the effective strategies that you can adopt to ensure your baby sleeps peacefully include:

  • Providing a sleep-friendly environment.
  • Establishing a consistent and self-soothing bedtime routine.
  • Recognizing your baby’s hunger cues.
  • Offering comfort and verbal reassurance.


All children are different. Therefore, patience and understanding are key in ensuring your baby returns to a healthy sleep routine.


I trust this article has provided answers and insights on why babies fight sleep. Before you leave, feel free to share any recommendations or ideas you may have in the comments section below.  

FAQ: Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

What Causes Babies to Fight Sleep?

Babies resist sleep for various reasons. They often include developmental changes like teething or crawling and overstimulation from bright lights or loud noises. Some other factors include hunger, separation anxiety, and sleep regression.

How Can I Help My Baby Settle Down and Fall Asleep More Easily?

You can establish a consistent bedtime routine to help your baby settle down and fall asleep more easily. Additionally, create a safe-sleep environment by using dim lights and maintaining optimal temperature. You can also provide comfort and reassurance through gentle massages and soothing words. Lastly, make sure to meet their physical needs promptly.

Are There Any Sleep Training Techniques That Can Help With Babies Fighting Sleep?

Yes. Sleep training techniques like the gradual withdrawal method can be effective in helping babies who struggle with sleep. Consult a pediatrician or sleep specialist to guide you in choosing the most suitable approach for your baby.

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