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Why is my baby fighting sleep? Experts explain why and what to do | My Baby My Star

Parenting is magical, blissful, life-changing and stressful. When you have a baby, you can expect to get very little sleep for the first few days. You have recently left the womb, which was warm, calm and rhythmically soothing, and must learn to sleep in the chaotic world. Babies usually lengthen their sleep cycles as they grow, but sometimes they struggle to form good sleep habits. You may be wondering why is my baby fighting sleep? It often feels like once you establish a good sleep phase, your baby will enter a new phase and leave you at the beginning.

Every baby is their own unique little person, and each reaches sleep milestones at different ages. If your neighbor brags that her baby started sleeping through the night at two weeks, she’s probably lying. Even if they aren’t, it can be frustrating when your baby is struggling to sleep and you’re not sure why. While there is no guaranteed way to get a baby to sleep, there are some things you can do to increase the chances that everyone in your house will get a little better sleep.

If you’re tired and wondering why your baby is struggling to sleep, read on for some expert tips so you can get some more zzzs.

Reasons why your baby is fighting sleep

“Often the environment is too exciting, interesting, erratic, or chaotic for the baby’s brain to settle down and follow normal sleep patterns,” says Elizabeth Gurnee, a registered nurse and board-certified lactation consultant who specializes in postpartum care Has. “Even making eye contact with a baby is like a shot of espresso for the brain.”

Another reason babies struggle to sleep is because their parents are trying to change the way they sleep. dr Sarah Mitchell, chiropractor and infant sleep consultant for Parent Lab, says, “If you have a baby who usually falls asleep while being fed, and then you try to put him down without him, he will cry and have trouble calming down because you are doing it ‘ have changed the way they fall asleep. The urge to sleep is biological, the way we sleep is a learned habit. If you break the known habit, your baby will fight sleep.”

Babies who are overtired or simply need more comfort than usual also struggle with sleep. Just like adults, Gurnee says, sometimes babies just need a little extra love and reassurance. You could be sick or in pain or just picking up your energy. All parents want those quiet moments after bed to watch a little TV, but if your baby senses you’re rushed at bedtime, she may struggle against sleep.

This is how you can tell when your baby is struggling to sleep

Is the time it takes your baby to fall asleep normal or is your baby struggling to sleep? dr Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of The happiest baby on the blocksays Romper that babies who take 30 to 60 minutes to fall asleep are outside the normal range and are considered “sleep-fighting.”

However, waking up in the night does not necessarily have to fight against sleep. Many parents have unrealistic expectations of how long a baby can sleep. Gurnee shared the most common baby sleep patterns, and they’re shorter than you might expect. Newborns should eat every two to four hours, including overnight. The night’s rest is five hours for a breastfed newborn and six hours for a formula-fed baby. “A secure bond with your caregiver is more important than a ‘good night’s sleep’ at this stage,” she adds.

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Tips to get your baby to stop fighting sleep

dr Karp says timing sleep is key. When bedtime is early or late, you are either struggling with a baby who is not yet tired or one who is overly tired. His recommendation is to adjust bedtime in 15-minute increments until your baby seems more ready to drift off to sleep.

The time is key, repeats Dr. mitchell It is the main thing that will help your baby stop the fight against sleep. “One simple thing you can do to help your baby fight sleep is to choose the right waking time based on age. Wake times are based on a child’s metabolism and observation, which are helpful guidelines for when to nap. For example, a 5-month-old can normally stay awake for about 2 hours. If you significantly exceed this time, he/she may be overtired and struggling to sleep.”

It’s also important that the scene feels like the womb. “Offer your baby the sleep cues he’s used to. White noise will encourage you to calm down and sleep better. Start the sound quietly in the background during your bedtime routine to prepare your baby to slip off into dreamland. However, if your baby is upset, turn up the white noise so it’s a harsh, rumbling hiss that’s as loud as his crying. This will activate her innate calming reflex, which is her natural ‘off switch’ for excitement.” Swaddling is also crucial to restoring the feeling of a tight uterus.

swings, says Dr. Karp, feels like the “shaky” life in the womb. Slow rocking is best for a calm baby, while a short, quick rocking motion is more likely to calm an agitated baby. Make sure you use a well-supported hold and don’t rock back and forth more than an inch when swinging fast. Do not let your baby sleep in a swing as it is unsafe.

A consistent evening routine will also benefit your baby, says Gurnee. This is how you signal your baby that it is time to sleep. Turning screens and lights down will trigger your body to produce melatonin, the hormone that causes drowsiness. Soothing music, quiet playtime, or a warm bath are great options. “Avoid making plans in the evening, things like grocery shopping or visiting friends are very stimulating to a baby.”

As your baby grows, they will need less and less support to sleep. By six months, their brains have doubled in size and they are mature enough to regulate themselves better. Maintain these well-developed routines and sleep associations, especially during periods of sleep regression, and hopefully you won’t wonder, “Why is my baby fighting sleep?” in the future.


Elizabeth Gurnee, RN and Certified Lactation Consultant

dr Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block

dr Sarah Mitchell, a chiropractor at Parent Lab specializing in infant sleep.

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