a baby sleeping under a blanket sucking on a bottle full of milk

As a parent, you might be puzzled why your baby fights sleep, even when they’re showing signs of exhaustion. So a question lingers in your mind, “Why do babies fight sleep?” 

This is common among infants, and there can be various reasons behind it. Recognizing the underlying causes of your baby’s sleep-fighting behavior will help you address the issue more effectively and create a more conducive sleep environment for them.

This article aims to help you gain some insights into why babies fight sleep and, in turn, provide you with some strategies for addressing this issue. So, keep reading; this could just be the help you are looking for!

Reason #1: Missed Bedtime and Overstimulation

If you delay putting your baby to bed when they show signs of tiredness, they may have a harder time settling down and falling asleep.

Long hours of screen time, especially a few hours before bedtime, can also contribute to an overstimulated baby. Engaging your baby in too many activities without allowing them time to cool down may also prevent them from feeling tired or sleepy. 


Know your baby’s sleep cues to prevent overstimulation and eventually promote a healthy sleep routine. When they begin yawning, eye rubbing, and getting fuzzy, it may be time to bring them to the bedroom. 

Maintain a consistent nap routine for your baby and pay attention to their wake windows (the time between naps). Babies need naps during the day, and ensuring they do not stay awake for too long will prevent them from becoming overtired and fighting sleep.

Try to limit the use of electronic devices around your baby and create a calming environment that promotes sleep. Make sure to balance their day with some quiet, relaxed activities to help them unwind and prepare for sleep.

Reason #2: Under Tiredness

Why do babies fight their sleep? Sometimes it is due to under tiredness. This might occur if your baby had a long nap during the day, making them less tired at bedtime. 

It’s also possible that the activities of the day were not enough to tire your baby out and help them feel ready for sleep. When they still have the energy to play, bedtime will really seem far away.


Keeping your baby engaged in age-appropriate activities throughout the day can promote a good sleep pattern. Just make sure not to overdo it that they feel overstimulated.

If you find that your baby is not tired enough at bedtime, consider adjusting their naps and daily activities. Shortening the duration of naps or introducing more tiring activities during the day may help your little one be ready for sleep at night.

Reason #3: Hunger

During the first few months, newborns feed as often as every 2-3 hours. As they grow and start consuming more milk or solid foods, their feeding schedule will gradually adjust, and they’ll be able to go longer periods between meals. 

Just like adults, when babies are hungry, it can be challenging for them to settle down and drift off to sleep.


Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues, especially around naptime and bedtime. If your little one seems fussy or irritable and is showing signs of hunger, like rooting or smacking their lips, make sure to feed them before trying to put them down to sleep.

Keep in mind that every baby has different nutritional needs and feeding schedules. In general, babies need more frequent feedings during growth spurts, which can occur at various points during their first year of life. 


Reason #4: Separation Anxiety

Another reason your little one is fighting sleep could be separation anxiety. At around nine months, babies often go through a stage when they are more clingy, wanting to be constantly close to their caregiver to feel secure. During this stage, your baby might experience separation anxiety not just during the day but also at bedtime. 

As a result, they might resist sleep to ensure you remain nearby. When it’s time for bed, your little one might show signs of distress as they part from your warm presence. Don’t worry—this is a sign of a healthy attachment, and there are a few strategies for you to help them overcome this hump.


Remember that patience is key during this phase. Gradually increasing the time you spend away from your baby during the day can help them adjust to being physically separated from you, easing their anxiety come bedtime. 

You may also practice co-sleeping, if possible, as you transition to letting your baby doze off independently. Rest assured, as your little one grows and develops, their sleep patterns will change, and this challenging period will pass.

mom and baby playing with colorful donut hoops in bed

Reason #5: Illness and Discomfort

When your baby is experiencing an illness, such as a cold or cough, it can cause discomfort which may disrupt their sleep during naps and bedtime. 

For instance, colds and coughs can make your baby congested, making it harder to breathe and thus uncomfortable to lie down. This can be especially challenging during naps, as the daytime might be filled with stimuli that further prevent them from falling asleep.

Reflux is another common issue for infants and can lead to difficulty settling when it’s time to sleep. Reflux can cause unpleasant sensations in their tummy, leading to fussiness and a strong resistance to sleep. 


It’s essential for you to pay close attention to your baby’s cues and consider any potential physical discomfort they might be experiencing.

If you notice your baby is unwell or showing signs of discomfort that are affecting their sleep, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider for advice on managing their symptoms. Following their guidance, you can help soothe your little one and encourage more restful sleep during naps and bedtime.

Reason #6: Undeveloped Circadian Rhythm Recognition

As a new parent, you may notice that your baby’s wake schedule is erratic and quite unpredictable. Newborns not following the circadian rhythm is normal as they only knew darkness inside mommy’s tummy. Newborns often require up to 18 hours of sleep a day, typically broken into multiple short periods or naps every two to three hours.

Gradually, your baby will start to develop their circadian rhythm and begin to follow a more consistent sleep schedule. However, some babies may develop this rhythm later than others, which can lead to difficulties in sleeping. 


It’s essential to be patient and support your little ones as they navigate through this developmental phase. To help your baby establish a healthy circadian rhythm, expose them to natural light during the day and maintain a dark, quiet environment during nighttime sleep. 

This will send clear signals to their developing brain when it’s waking or sleeping time.

Reason #7: Developmental Milestones

As your baby grows and experiences exciting milestones and growth spurts, they will develop new skills and abilities. These can make it more challenging for your baby to fall asleep. Babies are often eager to practice rolling over, crawling, or babbling, which leads to them delaying sleep time.

These developmental milestones are a crucial part of their growth. As your baby grows, they will naturally start to reduce their nap times. This is because their sleep needs change with time, and they start to consolidate their sleep during the night.


A consistent bedtime routine and ensuring their sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep are key to overcoming this challenge. 

A dimmed or turned off light can signal your baby that activity time is done. Use white noise and offer a comfort object like a favorite blanket or toy to help your baby relax.

Reason #8: Change in Sleep Schedule and Location

Sometimes, a sudden change in your baby’s daily schedule or even slight tweaks to their established routine can affect their sleep. Babies are sensitive to changes in their environment, which can impact their ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, especially when you’re traveling or moving to a new place. 

The excitement of being in a different setting can cause them to prolong their wake time. It’s normal for babies to take some time to adjust to a new environment; even if it’s just a temporary vacation spot.


Make sure your baby has a familiar sleep space, and that you stick to their usual bedtime. Creating a calm and soothing atmosphere can also encourage your baby to relax and drift off to sleep more easily no matter where they are.

Let Your Baby Fall Asleep Faster With Ashtonbee’s Supplies

Understanding the reasons for your baby’s sleep-fighting behavior is crucial in addressing the issue effectively and creating a more conducive sleep environment for them. We hope that we provided solutions to help you address these issues.

By being mindful of your baby’s sleep cues, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, and creating a calm and soothing environment, you can help your little one establish a healthy sleep pattern. Remember that each baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another, so be patient, try different strategies, and find what works best for your baby.

Need any sleeping supplies? Check out what we have here at Ashtonbee. From pillows, bed rails, or night lights, we got you! Get yours now to give your little one a calm and sound sleep.

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