Newborn Fighting Sleep? Why & How To Get Your Baby To Bed

photo by: @haveakidtheysaid

Do you find yourself wondering “why won’t my baby fall asleep” every night? If so, you’re not alone. At some point, every newborn fights sleep, which can be both frustrating and exhausting as you’re trying to navigate the already demanding responsibilities of caring for a new baby.

Understanding why your baby is fighting sleep is crucial if you want to address the challenge and promote healthy sleep habits. There are so many reasons why your newborn won’t go to sleep: hunger, gas, teething pain, overstimulation, separation anxiety, or simply being unable to self soothe. But if you can pinpoint the underlying cause of their resistance, you can tailor your approach accordingly.

A bassinet can play a helpful role in creating a comforting bedtime routine for your newborn. Read on to learn about some potential reasons why your newborn is fighting sleep and discover some tips for how to get a baby to stop fighting sleep.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Your newborn is showing all the classic signs that they’re tired: yawning, fussiness, rubbing their ears or eyes, and becoming increasingly restless or irritable. But no matter what you do, they won’t (or can’t) drift off to sleep. Here are some of the common reasons why a baby fights sleep: 

  1. Overtiredness: You’ve probably been so tired you can’t fall asleep. Turns out, this can happen to infants, too. When your baby is fighting sleep and overtired, their body gets flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. 
  2. Overstimulation: Noisy toys, bright lights, and excessive activity can overstimulate your baby and make it hard for them to settle down for sleep.  
  3. Sleep Regression: Around four months, rapid developmental changes can disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns, causing them to wake more frequently at night. This is a normal phase that should pass quickly as your baby grows.  
  4. Separation Anxiety: Around 6 to 7 months, many babies hit another developmental milestone that can affect their sleep: separation anxiety. 
  5. Teething Pain and Other Discomfort: The pain from teething can be intense, resulting in a newborn who won't go to sleep. Offer them teething toys or chilled washcloths to give them temporary relief from the discomfort. Tummy troubles caused by gas can also interfere with sleep. 
  6. Age and Development: If your baby was a preemie, an underdeveloped neurological system is at the root of their irregular sleep patterns. Be patient and understanding—as their neurological system develops and circadian rhythms take root, this too shall pass.

How to Get a Baby to Stop Fighting Sleep

If your baby is fighting sleep, your best bet in the battle for better bedtimes is to consult your baby’s pediatrician for techniques and advice on how to help them sleep. While there are many strategies that can help stop your newborn from fighting sleep and ease into better rest, the expert advice of a doctor is the best resource.

Consistency and routine are key. Create a bedtime ritual, that eases them into restful sleep. Many parents who are struggling with a baby who won't sleep find that the MamaRoo Sleep® Bassinet, which provides soothing motions and sounds that mimic parental movements, helps with getting your baby to fall asleep without being held. 

Being alert to signs of drowsiness can also prevent an infant fighting sleep. As soon as you notice signs that your baby is getting sleepy, put them to bed before they cross into overtired territory.

Creating a calm environment is vital. Minimize overstimulation by dimming lights, reducing noise, and playing gentle white noise, like the sounds in the MamaRoo Sleep® Bassinet, to drown out household sounds.

Nurture your baby through separation anxiety by making sure you’re there for them as they’re drifting off to sleep. This can be a strain on you as you’re dealing with your own postpartum issues, so be sure to make time for your own self-care by eating healthy meals and getting as much sleep as you can.

Remember, too, that as your baby grows their sleep needs evolve. Be flexible and adjust bedtime routines and sleep schedules accordingly.

Supporting Parental Well-being and Mental Health

Sleeplessness is tough on babies, but a newborn who won't go to sleep is tough on caregivers, too. Chronic sleep deprivation can have a very real impact on your health, leading to everything from impaired cognitive function and a weakened immune style to depression and anxiety, and even health conditions like obesity and heart disease.

Signs of sleep deprivation include irritability, difficulty concentrating, and excessive tiredness. Self-care routines can help, so carve out activities that can fit into your parenting schedule, such as taking a walk, meditating, reading, or making time for a hobby that gives you a break from the demands of childcare. 

If you find yourself struggling with sadness, anxiety, or feelings of being overwhelmed, talk to your healthcare provider who can recommend appropriate ways to manage your mental health, such as counseling or therapy.

Newborn Fighting Sleep? You’ve Got This!

If you find yourself wondering “why is my baby not sleeping?” remind yourself that there are a number of reasons why your newborn is fighting sleep at night. The strategies we’ve outlined above, as well as the use of innovative products like the MamaRoo Sleep® Bassinet, can help you create a nurturing sleep environment so you all can get the rest you need.