Unlike bigger children who want to stay up longer to catch one more episode of their favorite cartoon or a television sitcom, babies aren’t fighting sleep time for screen time. You may be at the end of your rope trying to figure out why your baby fights sleep, but don’t lose it just yet!
The good news is that your baby fights sleep for one of a number of reasons, but just about all of those reasons have easy accommodations to help your little one snooze out a bit more quickly and frequently.
Forget counting sheep or the tiles in your ceiling. Don’t sleep another wink before you read our article on the reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping!
Logistics: Why Your Baby Fights Sleep
Sometimes, it’s all about comfort.
Picture that you just arrived at a hotel room for the night.
You walk in and are blasted with the air conditioner. No way can you sleep in that ice box!
Or the reverse, it’s way too hot for a good night of sleep.
Your baby fights sleep too when he or she just cannot get comfortable, including for these reasons:
- Too hot or cold
- Swaddled too tightly or too loosely
- Too much noise coming from other parts of the house
- Lack of sound (if you usually have an ambient music machine, etc, and it is not playing at your baby’s usual sleep time)
- Hungry or overfed
Listen and Learn
Sometimes, signs are actually present about why your baby fights sleep. It just takes a little bit of effort to tune in and learn:
- Quick breathing
- Sweaty palms
These are all signs that your baby is tired/fatigued (YES!). But they’re actually signs of being OVER tired (BOO!)
You know how sometimes you’re so tired you can’t actually sleep?
Your baby can sometimes feel the same.
By the way, this one’s pretty obvious, but your baby fights sleep also when he’s NOT tired. You may want him to sleep but he just can’t. He can’t communicate this to you yet, so he’s just going to fight the good fight.
Don’t Walk Away, Renee!
OK, moms and dads named Renee or not, your baby fights sleep sometimes because he or she does not want you to go!
That’s right, little ones as young as eight to ten months can struggle with separation anxiety.
The idea of you putting them down to bed and then moving away from the crib can get them completely riled up and worried, even if they are years away from expressing that thought to you.
Babies know their parents’ faces and they can tell that your face is getting farther away as you back away from the crib. This gets them riled up and thus, they fight sleep. They can’t yet logic themselves into the idea that you are not disappearing from their lives forever. Babies live in the moment, and at this very moment, the person that they know, love, and depend on is going away.
Like many things with raising children, this is a phase.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia claims that separation anxiety ends around age three, but don’t panic.
We know that’s something you don’t really want to hear as it doesn’t solve the issue at the moment, but at least you can feel a bit of a light at the end of the separation anxiety tunnel.
After all, this baby will soon be a teenager who probably will feel the opposite about you hovering around!
Making Their (Teeth) Mark
Babies will experience sleep issues when they’re dealing with teething, as there is pain involved which results in trouble falling or maintaining good sleep.
During waking times, parents have mastered helping their babies go through teething with iced chew toys, topical pain relievers applied to the gums, and just distraction, but when everyone is trying to sleep, your baby may be going it alone.
There is also an issue called bruxism, which your older infant may experience after his or her teeth come in. Grinding or clenching their teeth and jaws can also contribute to sleep problems.
You can get a bit of the control back from your baby by learning the teething stages he or she is going through.
The first stage really isn’t a stage, and your baby begins to have stage two teething around age six months old. Every baby is on his own unique schedule, but you may see incisors and front teeth around ages six months to eight months, with primary molars emerging around ages ten months to 14 months.
This can be up to about three years’ total, with the last stages the most painful. (Though by ages two to three, your child should at least be able to alert you of some mouth pain or struggles.)
Think Outside the Store
Even if you feed your baby the most popular formula in the superstore, your child may still have issues with sleep and sleeping through the night.
It turns out that a baby fights sleep even with the so-called best formulas and sometimes, you need to think outside the box.
Think European and Think Organic
Our own “adult” grocery stores are filled with organic everything, from fruit to snacks to even meats.
So why not start your baby on an organic journey early, using organic European baby formula.
Tighter (healthier!) regulations on sugar and synthetic nutrients like lycopene and lutein (these substances are actually banned) means that your baby is getting healthier nourishment with no fillers or unneeded extras
- Milk from cows that are grass-fed and are free to graze freely rather than cooped up, plus no chemicals or pesticides
- Farms use sustainable (eco-conscious!) farming methods
- Some formulas are available for specialty fragile system situations, including babies who may have allergies or acid reflux
- Focus on essential vitamins and nutrients
Rice is Not Nice
Rice may be a staple of many adults’ diets, but you could be preventing your baby from a peaceful night’s sleep if you’re feeding him rice too early.
Like many rumors, this one just does not go away: Many people think they should put rice in a baby’s formula to help him sleep.
Please don’t do this!
Babies’ fragile systems are just evolving, and they cannot handle solids this soon.
You know how sometimes it’s hard to sleep after a huge, indulgent, rich meal?
Think about it from a baby’s tiny perspective!
The rumor is meant with good intentions, the feeding of the rice to ensure an infant’s tummy is full to promote good sleeping.
But babies below age six months or so do not need solid foods to feel solidly full.
If your baby fights sleep, he may sleep more peacefully if his or her stomach isn’t up all night trying to process food meant for older children and even adults.
Tips for a Sweet Sleep
Your baby may be tiny and brand new, but it seems like he or she really runs the show, right?
There actually are activities you can do to minimize the times when your baby fights sleep.
Just like we adults love our bedtime rituals, your baby probably will too! This can be anything from a nice warm bath with soothing scents to a singalong to a pre-sleep cuddle.
You can also incorporate some of the other senses when your baby fights sleep, including massage (touch) or womb-like music (sound) and even lavender oil mist (scent).
Cut Out the Coffee!
This one is definitely not going to be popular amongst the coffee-holics, but if your baby fights sleep on a regular basis, look in your cup.
Breastfeeding moms can pass caffeine into their babies. You know how YOU feel after a couple espressos? Now think of the impact on a tiny baby body!
It doesn’t get better, either. The Women’s Health Research Institute mentions other caffeine issues including chocolate and soda being potential risks of passing through to the baby which can leave him not just sleep-resistant, but irritable. Kind of like we adults are when we don’t get our regular cup of joe.
Wait, it DOES actually get better!
One way to avoid the coffee embargo is to switch to formula.
You can continue to consume your beverages and snacks of choice while eliminating one of the reasons why your baby fights sleep.
The Magic Formula
Ready to raise a full glass of European infant formula to toast the end of how your baby fights sleep?
We’re happy to help you celebrate or to aid in getting him or her onto the path of better sleep (which really benefits both baby and parents!).
Click here and drop us a note about your struggles.
We can help advise you about the best European infant formulas, talk sleep struggles, and share tips from other parents who have successfully helped their babies get on the right sleep track.