Most parents would agree that dealing with a baby fighting sleep is their least fun activity. It's extremely challenging to cope with a situation where it's time for your baby to sleep, yet they’re not having it. They may cry, kick and scream, or they may just refuse to sleep for seemingly no good reason at all. Overtiredness is one of the main reasons that may cause difficulty in sleeping.
If you're having a hard time as a parent, we got you! In this article, we’ll explore the signs of overtiredness which may cause your baby fighting sleep, plus some tips on what you can do to remedy them.
5 Signs of a Baby Fighting Sleep
1. They Are Taking Longer Than Usual To Sleep
One of the most common signs that your baby is fighting sleep is if they are deviating from their typical sleep routine and takes longer to fall asleep. For example, if you hold your baby and they fall asleep within minutes of putting down, and then all of a sudden it's taking them more than half an hour to sleep—it could be a sign that they are fighting the process.
You can solve this challenge by teaching the baby to soothe themselves to sleep. You could apply the previous routine, but put them down in the crib when they are awake instead of when they are asleep instead, allowing them to fall asleep independently.
2. They Quickly Wake Up When You Put Them Down
If your baby repeatedly wakes up as soon as you put them down, you’re probably dealing with a toddler fighting sleep. In such scenarios, any efforts to tiptoe away from the baby are futile, even when they are seemingly asleep.
3. Your Baby is Constantly Crying
It is not often easy to determine why your baby is crying. However, if your baby cries repeatedly when attempting to sleep, it could signal that they are fighting sleep and have been awake for too long. Whether they are in their own sleep space or in your arms, they might not be receptive to the idea of sleeping and find difficulty settling in bed.
4. They Become Rigid and Arch Their Back
It can be exasperating trying to comfort a baby who is trying their very best to be rigid. This behavior is often a sign that your baby is overtired and fighting sleep. To prevent this, put them down for sleep after holding them for about 45 minutes.
Similar to exhibiting signs of rigidity, babies may also arch their back when they’re fighting sleep. So, it's essential to put them down for sleep before they get to this point. Older children can tolerate more awake time because they have more stamina. However, you should still pay attention to time and sleep cues to avoid getting to a point of your child is fighting sleep.
5. They Are Making Fists
Is your baby making fists every time you attempt to put them to sleep? This is a common sign of a child fighting sleep. While they might probably be overtired to step into a boxing ring, it's a good idea to move their sleeping time a bit earlier if you observe this sign.
What Are The Signs of an Overtired Baby?
When a baby stays awake for longer than their body can handle or doesn’t get enough sleep, they may develop a stress response. A stress response is an increase in cortisol and adrenaline—making it harder for them to sleep.
It is easier to tell when your baby is overtired in some cases more than others. Common signs of an overtired baby include:
- Being fussy or cranky
- Low tolerance to pain and frustration
- Taking short naps instead of full-blown naps
- Falling asleep randomly during the day
- They are highly susceptible to meltdowns and are hard to calm down
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Fighting Sleep?
You'll know you have your baby fighting sleep if they are taking longer than usual to fall asleep, quickly wake up when you put them down to sleep, cry a lot, become rigid and arch their back, or if they are making fists when attempting to sleep. These are the most common signs of a baby fighting sleep.
What Should I Do When My Baby is Fighting Sleep?
When your child is accustomed to falling asleep in your arms, they might get distressed by waking up in the new environment of a crib, causing them to fight sleep. An excellent way to remedy having your baby fighting sleep is to give them a chance to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.
Reduce the stimulation in your child’s sleep environment to help them sleep better. Engage your kid by talking to him, but don’t overdo it. Turn off any loud sounds or blinking lights in the room, and keep out the sunlight by hanging darkening curtains over the window.
Learn your baby’s sleeping cues and observe them when nursing them to sleep. Doing so will ensure that your child does not get overtired and find difficulty sleeping.
It's also important that you establish a nap routine so that your baby can be fully energetic when awake and fall asleep more comfortably. Some babies may find it difficult to transition between play and sleep. Singing your baby a lullaby or reading them a story before they sleep can relax them and reduce their energy levels.
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It's essential to observe your child’s sleeping cues to ensure that they sleep when they are supposed to and do not get overtired from being awake for too long. Watch out for some signs of your baby fighting sleep such as if they are taking too long to doze off, keeps on crying, becomes rigid, arches their back, or makes fists when it's time to sleep. Oftentimes, they are likely overtired.
If you find yourself in a situation where you find your child fighting sleep, teach them to soothe themselves, eliminate any overstimulation in their sleep environment, and establish a good sleep routine. This will ensure they transition to sleep smoothly and reduce the chances of your baby fighting sleep.