Understanding Why Babies Fight Sleep and How to Help

Signs of baby fighting sleep

The baby's resistance to sleep usually has the following common manifestations.
Crying: Your baby may cry loudly and show an unwillingness to fall asleep.

Nervous and anxious: Your baby may become nervous or fidgety, moving around constantly and having difficulty relaxing to sleep.

Tossing and turning: Your baby may be wriggling and struggling in bed, unable to maintain a stable sleeping position.

Avoid eye contact: The baby may try to avoid eye contact with the mother, showing resistance to falling asleep.

Refusing to feed or eating very little: Babies may be reluctant to eat because they prefer to stay awake.

Reasons of fighting sleep

Lack of security 

If baby has been crying and refusing to sleep at night, it is likely that baby is scared and leads to a lack of security. When the baby is frightened, it will produce more serious mental tension, and it will also be deeply impressed by the frightened event for a period of time. At night, the surrounding area is relatively quiet and the light is relatively dark, which may exacerbate the baby's tension and remind baby of the frightened event, resulting in the baby being afraid to sleep.


If a mother tries various methods but the baby still refuses to sleep, it is very likely because the mother missed baby’s best sleep window. When we miss the baby's sleep signals (staring, rubbing the eyes, yawning, pulling the ears, etc.), baby will not obtain needed sleep in time. This will lead to the baby's overexcited brain nerves , which ,in turn, prevents the baby from sleeping.

Baby's physical discomfort

Baby's physical discomfort, including physiological, psychological, pathological and other discomfort. Physiologically, the growth pain caused by the baby's development or the oral discomfort caused by the baby's teething will cause certain sleep disturbances to the baby. Consequently, the baby is unable to fall asleep quietly, resulting in the situation that baby is obviously very sleepy but unable to sleep.

Psychologically, the baby's low mood, high mood, nervous fear, excitement, etc., may make the baby in a state of excitement, so as to be unable to sleep.

In terms of pathology, if the baby suffers from certain diseases, it will also seriously affect its sleep. For example, the baby's stomach discomfort, colic, distension, cough and runny nose, fever and cold, etc., will make the baby feel very uncomfortable, so that it can not sleep comfortably.

In addition, if the temperature and humidity in the baby's sleeping environment are not suitable, if the bedding is scratchy, if the lighting is too bright, if there is excessive noise, or if there is an odor in the air, the baby may refuse to sleep.

Separation anxiety

Between the ages of 7 and 12 months, your baby will wake up frequently at night due to separation anxiety. At this stage, they may cry for mom and dad in the middle of the night, and older babies will try to climb out of the crib, desperately clinging to mom and dad to sleep together. Separation anxiety will subside around the age of 2. Until then, parents need to be patient to calm the baby and reduce the baby's separation anxiety.


Excessive night feeding

If mother frequently feeds the baby at night, the baby may develop the habit of relying on night food to fall asleep. This can cause them to wake up at night asking for feeding and have trouble falling asleep on their own.

Over-reliance on external reassurance

If the baby relies too heavily on external comforts, like rocking in the cradle, the crib's vibration, or being held by the mother, to fall asleep, they might wake up during the night and need these soothing methods to get back to sleep. This can make it tough for the baby to fall asleep on their own or self-soothe.

Impacts of baby fighting sleep

Affect the growth and development of baby's body

Babies mostly release the growth hormone they need for growing taller while they're asleep.If a baby doesn't sleep well, it can mess with their growth hormones, which might lead to them not growing as tall. Sleep for the baby, in fact, is a kind of "charging" behavior. Baby consumes energy and physical strength during the day, and need to be supplemented by sleep.
Your baby's body tissues also adjust at night when they are asleep. If baby does not sleep well, then the working pressure of the baby's organs will become larger, affecting the health of the organs. At the same time, the baby's immune system will also be weakened, resulting in the baby's susceptibility to disease.
Affect the baby's cognitive and intellectual development
When babies are just born, in fact, they have no awareness of the outside world. Your baby's knowledge of the world comes from daily contact with the outside world, and the brain's processing of daytime information after sleep. Therefore, the strength of the baby's cognitive ability lies not only in what the baby can access during the day, but also in whether the baby can sleep well at night. If the quality of baby's sleep at night is very bad, then the brain's processing of information will be affected, and the baby's cognitive ability will be influenced accordingly.
Moreover, when a baby doesn't sleep well at night, it can mess with their brain functions, like memory and thinking abilities, which, in turn, can mess with their intellectual growth.

Solutions of baby fighting sleep

The quality of infant sleep is directly related to their healthy growth and development. Therefore, parents should create a good sleeping environment for babies so that they can sleep comfortably and sweetly. So what should parents do with babies who resist sleep?

Read a story or a book before bed

In the familiar voice of the mother, the baby can not only get a lot of security, but also feel the warmth of the story. In this way, baby’s body and mind can relax, and soon can enter the state of sleep.

Avoid stimulating games and excessive exercise before bed

When the baby is in a quiet and relaxed state, it can fall asleep more smoothly. If the baby is too excited before going to bed, its body will be in a state of tension and agitation, which is difficult to fall asleep. Even if baby is already asleep, the baby is likely to have problems such as restless sleep and sweating. So if the baby is very excited before going to bed, then parents can relieve the baby's excited mood by bathing the baby, soaking feet, telling stories, etc. This will gradually calm the baby down and guide the baby to fall asleep slowly.

Create comfortable sleeping environment

If the sleeping environment is not comfortable, it is difficult for baby to fall asleep. Even if baby falls asleep, it is difficult to sleep soundly. In order to create a suitable sleep environment, parents should pay attention to the following points.

Temperature and humidity: The temperature and humidity of the sleep environment need to be kept within a comfortable range. Unusually cold or hot environments, as well as excessively dry or overly humid conditions, aren't ideal for a baby's sleep and might result in some health problems for them. For example, improper dry humidity may cause respiratory diseases and eczema, etc., and improper temperature can lead to cold or heat stroke.

Air quality: The air in the baby's sleeping room must be fresh. Keep indoor air circulation to avoid cloudy air and odors. Poor quality air will not only make the baby feel uncomfortable, and even cause some diseases for baby.

Noise: Your baby's sleeping environment should be quiet, but there can be some white noise. The sound of appliances such as hair dryers and electric fans can help your baby fall asleep.

Light: When setting up your baby's sleeping space, make it as dark as possible – avoid using nightlights if you can.

Bedding: Baby's bedding, such as quilts, pillows, sheets, etc., must be skin-friendly and breathable, so that the baby can sleep comfortably. If the side that touches your baby's skin is too rough or not breathable, your baby will not be able to sleep well.

Preemptive soothing

Usually your baby's sleep cycle is 45 minutes, beginning with light sleep and then entering deep sleep. 30 minutes after falling asleep, babies begin to move out of deep sleep and into light sleep. So 30 minutes after falling asleep is the baby's easy to wake up point. This stage is called light sleep. If babies can pass through this light sleep without any disturbances, they are less likely to wake up in the middle of the night, allowing them to smoothly transition into a deeper sleep. However, because the baby's sleep ability and sleep habits are different, the time of waking up will also be various.

You can keep track of your baby's routine, calculate the average duration of each nap before they wake up, and know precisely when your baby is about to wake up. Then, enter their room to soothe them within approximately the first five minutes of stirring. This is called 'preemptive soothing' and has been personally tested as a highly effective method.


Relieve separation anxiety 

No matter how small your baby is, every time you leave, make sure they know you're going but will be right back. Even if you're just going to the next room, tell her, "I'll be right back." Keep doing this, and one day you'll be amazed to see that when you leave for a moment, they know exactly what "right back" means. When you leave, you can have other caregivers distract them with some activities, like playing with new toys, giving them a bath, or showing them themselves in the mirror. Then, say goodbye and leave quickly. Usually, babies can more easily accept this expected pattern of separation.

Use a sleeping sack 

A sleeping sack can help keep your baby warm, reduce the risk of choking at night, and also help your baby stay in a relatively fixed sleeping position.



yujia shi

Yujia Shi, an expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Angel's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.

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