Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Babies go through phases and fight their normal sleep patterns. Even the best sleepers can experience sleep regression. And mama, we KNOW you’re tired when your baby is fighting their sleep! There’s hope! According to Healthline, there are multiple reasons your baby may be fighting sleep, and parents weigh in on a few more reasons as well. Understanding these reasons will assist sleep patterns in returning to regular and assist both of you in getting back to bed!

babies fighting sleep

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Reasons Why Babies Fight Sleep

  1. Overtired
  2. Not tired enough
  3. Overstimulation
  4. Separation anxiety
  5. Circadian rhythm 
  6. Hunger
  7. Illness
  8. Teething
  9. Change of surroundings


Babies love schedules. Babies who are on a strict schedule REALLY love schedules. When your baby becomes dependent on their schedule and something interferes with the timing of bedtime, it’s really easy for your baby to become overtired. There’s a window of time when your baby is tired and primed for sleep. When that time passes, it becomes difficult for your baby to go through their normal motions for sleep. They may be unable to self soothe. They are simply just too tired to go to sleep.

*Mom tip: Allow your baby to do something that makes them happy for a few minutes. Try to “reset” the sleep routine and try again!

Not Tired Enough  

As desirable as it is for your baby to stay on their schedule, or maybe you’re just ready for your baby to go to bed after a hard day - sometimes your baby just isn’t tired. Their sleep schedule may be changing while they are growing. Maybe they took a nap that day that was longer than usual. It’s possible that your baby is just having fun playing or is entertained by what is going on around them. 


This is pretty obvious because we experience overstimulation as adults! Your house may be extra noisy from other children or visitors. Check for decorations or toys around your baby nursery that may grab your baby’s attention while they are trying to sleep. Maybe your baby had a really busy day and is having a hard time calming down. Watch your baby’s cues. They may act irritable or uncomfortable because their little mind is racing from all of their surrounding stimulation. 

Separation Anxiety

As your baby transitions from newborn to being a little older, they are more aware of your presence. Your baby is used to being around people all day. When your baby starts developing and getting older, they notice when you’re not there and may cry for your presence and attention. They become upset which keeps them from being able to sleep. We know that feeling of wanting your alone time, but a few extra minutes of cuddles may be good for both of you!  

Circadian Rhythm

Every baby and every human has a different circadian rhythm. While your baby’s circadian rhythm begins developing around six weeks old, it will go through multiple changes as your baby grows and their sleep needs change. This should even out in a bit!


You know your baby’s hunger cues better than anyone else! Like sleep schedules, your baby’s feeding schedule and feeding needs will change as your baby grows. If you’re noticing your baby is consistently having a hard time going to sleep because they are hungry, maybe it’s time to increase their formula, breast-milk, or solid food intake. Trust your instincts on this, mama! 


Your baby may be having a hard time falling asleep because they just don’t feel well, and I bet you can tell. The most common illnesses affecting baby’s sleep schedules are colds and congestion, constipation, and ear infections. If you’re worried about any of these, don’t hesitate to call your pediatric nurse line or schedule an appointment for your baby to be seen!


Just take one look in your baby’s mouth while a new tooth is popping up and you’ll understand why your baby may have a hard time going to sleep! OUCH!! Babies form little blisters on their gums before a new tooth pops out. And then it takes a while for your baby’s teeth to come all the way out. Take advantage of the extra soothing your baby needs right now!

Change of Surroundings

While traveling with your baby has advantages, if your baby is dependent on a strict sleep schedule, sleep while traveling may prove difficult! Your baby may fight to go to sleep in a new environment. They may feel uneasy and unable to self-soothe. Bring a few comfort items for your baby, and make sure to have a little extra patience with them while traveling! If you will often be traveling, create a new bedtime routine for travel. Bring the same portable crib with you. Over time, your baby will become familiar with their travel accessories. Then, travel will be more enjoyable for the whole family!

Do you have any questions about why your baby fights sleep? Do you have tips for other parents struggling with this? Reach out to share your experiences!

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