Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

baby crying on the bed

Why do babies fight sleep? This question is one that baffles parents and those with kids around them. As an adult, you go to sleep when you feel tired. It is a simple process that we have become used to over the years.

However, babies do the opposite, causing new parents everywhere to wonder why babies fight sleep at some point, especially when it is clear they are overtired. This article will detail why babies fight sleep and provide tips that can help counteract this behavior, so your little one can develop a better sleep pattern.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep: The Window Before

The answer to this question has to do with the fact that every baby has a sleep window. This sleep window is the timeframe just before they begin to fight sleep. At this time, they become drowsy, however, not sleepy to the point where they start crying.

Some new parents make the mistake of either ignoring or not recognizing this window as the best time to put their infant to bed. When you don’t put your baby to bed during this sleep time window, they begin fussing and crying, which is a manifestation of them fighting sleep. The baby will become overtired with the sleep cues missed, fighting sleep even harder.

Other Factors to Consider

Apart from babies being overly tired, there are other reasons to consider when considering why babies fight sleep.

Sleep Patterns

This is one of the first factors that parents consider when trying to answer why do babies fight sleep. It takes about 10 minutes for most babies to fall into a light sleep. During that time, attempting to put the baby in their crib could cause them to wake up and begin crying.

And while each baby has its own unique sleep pattern, that 10 minute period of light sleep before falling asleep into a deep slumber can prove crucial in preventing the baby from fighting sleep.

Temperament and Personality

It is essential to consider temperament and personality when asking why babies fight sleep. It isn’t uncommon for an infant to fight sleep simply because they don’t want to miss anything. This is particularly true when the baby is engaged throughout the day, and they might believe they will miss out on the fun by falling asleep.

Separation Anxiety

Another reason your baby might fight sleep is that they could be going through separation anxiety. This is prevalent with infants that are 9 to 10 months old. At this point, the child wants to be close to their parent and be constantly held, causing them to fight sleep. The separation anxiety phase typically peaks at 18 months before reappearing at two years old.

Baby asleep while being held

Source: Pexels

Not Being Sufficiently Tired

Babies fight sleep because they might not be sufficiently tired to fall asleep. Younger babies typically require shorter wake times; however, as they develop into toddlerhood, the amount of time they stay awake lengthens. One way to recognize this is to consider how many hours they sleep during the day.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep: Solutions?

The moment you figure out why babies fight sleep, you can utilize solutions to avoid this. To that end, here are a few solutions to use.

Adding Background Noise

While this solution might seem counterintuitive, it can help your infant fall asleep. Like some adults, some infants struggle to fall asleep in a quiet room. Adding a white noise machine or singing a soothing lullaby can often help the baby fall asleep.

Darken the Room

Several babies are unable to sleep restfully if their nursery is too bright. Closing the curtains or turning the lights down can help create a calming atmosphere for your infant.

Develop a Bedtime Routine

Developing a soothing bedtime routine can help your baby relax to the point where they fall asleep easier. The routine could include reading to your baby, rocking them, giving them a warm bath, or simply singing a lullaby to them. Whatever it is you do, the atmosphere should be relaxing, which will help the infant fall asleep easier.

When creating bedtime routines for your little one, you need to ensure they are always simultaneously. Doing this ensures the bedtime routine is effective.

Shorten or Eliminate Naps

If your baby tends to stay up or fight nighttime sleep, you can shorten the duration of daytime naps. For instance, if your child has two naps a day, you might want to stick to just one nap to ensure they are tired enough to fall asleep at bedtime.

Change Their Bedtime

Changing your baby’s bedtime to an earlier time, mainly if they are fighting sleep due to being too tired, can help. Nevertheless, the opposite is true if your baby isn’t sufficiently tired to fall asleep. Providing your baby with more wake time can prove helpful. Remember, no amount of sleep training will work if your child is overtired and has a sleep routine that doesn’t meet their needs.

toddler crying while trying to sleep

Source: Pexels


There isn’t just one answer to the question, “why do babies fight sleep?” As the article states, there are many reasons for this, and every child’s sleeping pattern and circumstance are different. As a parent, you need to be aware of your baby’s unique situation and encourage healthy sleep habits. Some babies can be put down in their crib while still awake but tired, while others require nursing or rocking to sleep.

The reason for this is that while some adults can simply dive into a deep sleep state, infants, particularly in the early months, only enter sleep after a brief period of light sleep. After this light sleep period, they are not easily woken up.

Finding a solution to why your baby fights sleep might be a case of trial and error. So it is crucial to find out if your baby has a late bedtime, or is energetic and engaging throughout the day, so much so that they are having too much fun to sleep.

You also need to consider if your baby sleeps too much during the day as that could cause them to not be tired around bedtime.