Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?


Every parent has experienced this at some point, you’ve got a very tired little baby who has been up for hours, and despite all the fussing, crying, yawning, and rubbing their eyes, they’re still fighting against their eyelids. 

Now, we all know how essential sleep is, not just for your little one, but for you as parents too.

And while all babies will fight sleep occasionally, if your child is doing it often, you may want to figure out exactly why, so you can help them, and yourself, find peaceful slumber. 

In this article, we will go over reasons why your infant may be battling against falling asleep, and how you as parents can help them lose that fight, and ensure they get the sleep that you know they need. 

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep

Reasons Your Baby Might Fight Sleep

If you can figure out why your baby is struggling to fall asleep, it makes combating these issues simpler and will ensure that they are taking a trip to dreamland in no time at all.

So what exactly are the reasons that your baby is resisting going to bed? 

Too Tired

When you and I are exhausted, sleep will find us easily once we stop moving and relax.

We all know the feeling only too well, you settle down to relax and watch a film and drift away halfway through, never managing to get to the end.

But for babies, it’s not quite the same. Your little one actually has a small window of time where sleep is likely, miss it and you’ll have one cranky baby.

This is because once they become overtired they will often become quite fussy, and irritable and will struggle to actually fall asleep. 

Not Tired Enough

Just like when they're too tired, if your baby isn’t tired enough, then you’re going to struggle to get them down.

If you’ve disrupted your baby's sleep schedule or routine, perhaps they’ve snoozed for longer than normal, or had an extra nap throughout the day, then they may just not be tired enough to sleep.

In this case, sorry Mom or Dad but it looks like you’ll be up playing with your little one a little longer before you can settle them down. 

If your child is constantly not tired enough, it may be time to think about managing your sleep schedule or changing it.

This may be happening simply because your little one is developing and growing up (I know, I’m sorry.) 

If you think your little one is about to drop a nap, read our post on How to Deal With Nap Transitions.


Babies can be a lot like us adults really.

And just as we should be coming off our phones and staying away from phone and computer screens just before bedtime to help us sleep, you need to limit distractions for them too. 

The last thing you’ll want to do is excite your little one just before bedtime, or they are not going to be calm enough for sleep.

Try to limit loud music, very interactive toys, and hyper playtime in the last hour before sleep.

After all, I know I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep straight after a super exciting day. 

Separation Anxiety

It’s quite common, especially in young infants, for your child to have separation anxiety.

Children with separation anxiety don’t take fondly to being away from Mom or Dad and this can affect their sleep too. 

Your little one may be fighting sleep because they don’t want to be put down, or for you to leave. 

Circadian Rhythm

Once your baby is around 6 weeks old, they will start to develop their circadian rhythm.

This is a 24-hour cycle that regulates their body.

Once your baby is anywhere between three to six months old, these rhythms can help create a true sleep schedule. 

You may find that while your baby is finding this rhythm their sleep schedule is a little all over the place, which can cause the fussiness that keeps them awake. 

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep (1)


Your little one is going to do a lot of growing in their first year of life. In fact, it’s likely they will triple their first weigh-in by the time they turn one.

All that growing means one hungry little baby needing nutrients and nourishment. 

Now, checking if your baby is hungry and their diaper is clean is usually the first go-to’s in a parent's checklist for when they’re fussing, so you’ve probably already tried a bottle.

But if it’s a recurring issue and nothing seems to be working, check that your baby is getting enough food throughout the entire day and see if this makes a difference. 

Find out How to Introduce Solid Foods to Your Baby


If your baby is under the weather and feeling ill, this is going to disrupt their sleeping patterns.

If your baby is feeling ill, always keep an eye on symptoms and call a doctor immediately if you are concerned. 

Tips To Help Your Little One Fall Asleep

Of course, these tips depend on why exactly why your baby is fighting sleep, and they won't work all of the time.

But they should help you better understand your little ones sleeping schedules and help them with their overall routine. 

Learning Sleep Cues

You have a small opportunity to take the window of sleep your child has so keep an eye out for cues that they’re approaching this window. Signs such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, losing interest in play, and crying are all cues that need action within a matter of minutes if you want your baby to fall asleep. 

Create A Soothing Bedtime Routine

Infants like routine, creating a soothing and relaxing routine that is consistent will help them drift off. Routines such as bath-time, book-time, bed-time can help your baby fall asleep at the same time most nights. 

Download our Bedtime Routine printable and find out about our Newborn Sleep Schedule by Week.

We also have a sleep schedule for each month from a 2-month-old through to 12-months. You can find these in our Start Here Section under Sleep

Daytime/Nightime Behaviours

Help your baby learn the behaviors of daytime and nighttime by keeping them active and playful throughout the day and then relaxed and calm in the evenings. 

Consistent Feeds

As a general rule, you want to make sure that your newborn baby is getting fed every 2-3 hours. This will become less frequent as they get older. 

Good Sleeping Environment

Just as you or I probably couldn’t fall asleep in a bright noisy room, neither will your baby.

Final Thoughts

Your baby fighting sleep is a fairly common natural thing so it isn’t a cause for panic.

There are several reasons why your baby may not want to fall asleep and we’ve gone through these and how to try and combat them. 

If you find though, that you’re still struggling, you can always speak to your doctor.

Sleep is super important for your baby’s development and growth, so you want to ensure that they always get enough sleep. 

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