Help! My Baby Fights Sleep

shutterstock_253258810It’s a struggle faced by many new parents: you lay your baby down in her crib for the night, only to have her fuss and fight until you reluctantly pick her back up again.

Many babies fight sleep, but why? And what can you do about it to help her get to sleep more easily?

Understanding the problem

The first and most common reason babies fight sleep is over-tiredness.

Have you ever stayed up past your regular bedtime and been hit with a so-called “second wind?” It’s the same for babies.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to place your baby in her crib is when she’s getting sleepy, but not yet fully asleep. If she’s stayed awake too long, she may become hyper and cranky, making it more difficult for her to calm down for sleep.

You can help combat over-tiredness by watching for the telltale signs your baby is getting sleepy: rubbing her eyes, pulling on her ears, fluttering eyelids and sucking on her fingers. When you start to tune into these signs, you’ll begin to pick up right away on your baby’s patterns of sleepiness.

Try laying her down in the crib when you first notice she’s getting sleepy. You can pat her gently or talk to her quietly, but try to avoid any unnecessary stimulation. This will help her learn to fall asleep on her own, before she passes that “point of no return” of over-tiredness.

baby fights sleep

Separation anxiety

Another reason your baby may be fighting sleep is separation anxiety. This typically develops between six and eight months of age as your baby begins to become more aware of her surroundings and learn that she enjoys your company.

If your baby cries every time you leave the room, you may be dealing with a case of separation anxiety.

You can combat this and help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own by practicing a simple routine. Place her in her crib and leave the room.

If she begins to cry, let her cry for just a few minutes before returning to her side. Comfort her, but try not to pick her up or hold her. When she has calmed down, leave the room again.

Repeat this process several times, for several days or weeks in a row. This will help your baby understand that even though she can’t see you, it doesn’t mean you’ve left her. You’re simply in another room, just a few steps away.

Once she begins to understand this, she’ll be more comfortable falling asleep without you right by her side. It’s important not to pick your baby up or rock her when you return to her crib, because this will only teach her that crying brings a reward.

Have you dealt with your baby fighting sleep? What techniques worked for you? Join the conversation and share tips with other parents by joining our Facebook community.

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