If you’ve ever asked this question, you’re not alone!
There are lots of people struggling with the exact same thing as you do, and probably the reason a book simply titled Go the F**k to Sleep became an Amazon bestseller (It’s adult humor and you’ll be pleased to know that Samuel L. Jackson is the narrator of audio version)
Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?
Countless parents have shared this frustration, and while thousands post pics of their slumbering angels online, there are countless more – frazzled and exhausted “mombies” needing intervention.
There are a few reasons why your baby’s fighting sleep; that’s the bad news. The good news is we have a few tried and tested ways that could help you and your child counting sheep. There are usually four reasons that have babies fighting sleep like Rocky Balboa. These are:
- Not Tired Enough
- Separation Anxiety
Another two possible reasons, once the above mentioned have been ruled out, is that baby is ill and in discomfort, or it’s quite simply their personality or temperament. We suggest you always check numbers 1-4 before you rush off to the doctor.
Babies have a small gap where conditions are perfect to fall asleep: it’s that moment when he is tired enough to doze off on his own, and there are usually a few signs, including a glazed look, rubbing eyes, maybe a yawn, or a slight niggle.
Of course, these could signal hundred other things so it can be easily missed. Unfortunately, it’s a short window, and in the time you do a quick feed or nappy change, it may be over.
Don’t think keeping baby up longer will make her sleep better or later. It simply doesn’t. An overtired baby will wake more frequently and sleep for a shorter period.
2. Not Tired Enough
You will soon realize there is nothing that you can do to get babies to sleep if they’re not tired. As baby gets older, her sleep patterns might change, and you need to be aware of this.
If your baby or toddler is fighting sleep, there’s a chance he’s not tired, and you’ll want to change sleep times or extend the times between naps.
Your child may be getting hungry while asleep, which has him waking up earlier than he should. We often make the mistake of feeding babies just before a nap or bedtime, and we misinterpret them dozing off quickly as being full.
Unfortunately, when they’re tired, they might not get enough food and so they wake up with hunger pains.
4. Separation Anxiety
A lot of babies experience separation anxiety, which will affect their sleep pattern. It usually happens between eight and ten months, but peaks at around 18 months and then again at two years old.
As a new mom, you’ll soon become familiar with the non-verbal ways in which your baby communicates with you, from physical signs like rubbing eyes and yawning to a certain look or expression.
You will also start picking up on different cries and their meanings; you’ll be able to differentiate a hungry cry from a tired cry, and you might also identify a distressed wail that means something might be wrong.
3 Quick Tips to Help Your Baby Go to Sleep
We’ve presented the possible problems, let’s take a look at the solutions. They’re practical, doable and will help. However, if you sense it might be something else, trust your instinct and speak to your GP or pediatrician.
Of course, there’s a chance that you have one of those babies that don’t want to miss out on all the fun and prefer to be awake.
1. Move Bedtime or Nap Time
If you notice your baby is overtired around the time of her usual nap or at bedtime, then you might want to bring it forward. Alternatively, if your child isn’t tired enough, especially a toddler, then you ought to change it to a slightly later time.
Also, have a look at the nap or bedtime routine. Is bathing, feeding, rocking and reading actually too long, and getting baby overtired?
Or is your child being put down when he’s still overstimulated and not tired enough? Do you need to start winding down with baby a little earlier?
Although it sounds a little “hit-and-miss,” with babies, it’s often a case of trial and error to see what works best for the two of you. So it might take a few days of trying different things out, but it will be worth it once you have the perfect solution.
2. Establish a Bedtime Routine
The idea of a routine is a contested issue. With some parents, they prefer taking a more laissez-faire approach to parenting while others prefer routine, some more rigid than others.
The “anything goes” method works for some people, but for parents with more than one baby or with children across different age groups, a routine is often the best thing for everyone, especially at bedtime.
Establishing a bedtime routine can save you a lot of frustration in the long run. Once it’s in place, you can get baby to sleep mode from play mode with the least amount of fuss.
3. Adjust Day to Day Schedule
Are you noticing that baby isn’t tired when you put her down at her usual nap time?
There might be chances that she is ready to shorten or even drop it. On the other hand, have you added an extra activity to her day that might call for an earlier dinner and bedtime?
It’s worth relooking your baby’s schedule now and then and making the necessary adjustments.
If you find these suggestions don’t help and there are no obvious signs of discomfort (heat, reflux, fever), then it might be a case you have an inquisitive baby who doesn’t want to miss out on a thing.
Children are aware of socializing from early on, and you might just have a little socialite on your hands who wants to mingle and have fun with everybody else.
My suggestion is to try and get baby to sleep before everyone arrives or try and calm things down before you put your baby down. As frustrating as it may seem, it is common and will pass.
How about you? If you want to share any “secret techniques” that help your baby go to sleep easily, it would be my pleasure to hear from you.