Dealing with a tired baby who won’t sleep is possibly the single most frustrating, exhausting aspect of parenthood.
Chrissy Teigen, mom to 3-month-old Luna, knows this.
My biggest parenting conundrum: why it is so hard to put someone who is already sleepy to sleep— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 5, 2016
Why oh why do babies fight sleep? They can hardly keep their little eyes open, yet they do everything they can to stay awake. Which generally involves lots of back-arching, wriggling and screaming.
Babies are predictable in many ways, but when it comes to fighting sleep, there’s simply no definitive answer. It’s a case of eliminating all possibilities until you (hopefully) stumble upon the reason and can try to find a solution.
Often, babies fight sleep simply because they are overtired. If you miss their "sleep window" — the moment when they're drowsy enough to drift off without a fuss but not so tired that the wriggling and crying starts — all hell can break loose.
Another possible reason for fighting sleep is the opposite: Your tot isn’t tired enough. Yes, babies need a lot of sleep, but it might be worth thinking back over the course of the day and working out exactly how much sleep they have already had. Many toddlers are capable of longer wake times during the day (and some don’t need daytime naps at all).
Older babies and toddlers may also refuse to sleep because they don’t want to be apart from you. Separation anxiety typically starts at 8 months and peaks around 18 months, but all babies are different. This would explain why you lay a sleeping baby down in their cot and at the very moment their back touches the mattress, their eyes fly open and all of a sudden they're apparently wide awake again.
Of course, some babies are simply more sociable than others — just like adults. Why sleep when there is so much fun to be had? There's little you can do if your child's refusal to sleep is down to their personality.
But there are steps you can take to try to encourage your infant to go to sleep. You may want to move their bedtime earlier or later, depending on how much they have slept during the day. If fighting sleep comes at nap time, bring things down a notch beforehand with a dark, peaceful room and a lullaby.
If all else fails, just go with the flow. You'll be able to catch up with your sleep in around 10 years.
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