Sleep

5 Reasons Your Baby Is Fighting Naps (With Solutions)

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As a parent there aren’t many things as frustrating as a baby or toddler fighting their nap.

We all know how precious that time is during the day when your baby takes their nap, especially as it’s likely the only time during the day you’re able to tackle chores and, if you’re lucky, enjoy some rest of your own.

So to help you and your little one get back on track, let’s take a look at why your baby may be fighting their nap or sleep, and what the best solutions are that you can try right away.

5 Reasons Your Baby Is Fighting Naps (With Solutions)

1. Your Baby Is Over Tired

One of the most common reasons why a baby or toddler may be fighting sleep is because they are overtired and overstimulated.

It may sound strange, but too much stimulation can actually make it more difficult for a child to switch off and fall asleep, especially during a development leap.

Babies naturally love to play, explore and take everything and their surroundings in, and all this learning can be very tiring work for a little one.

While all this stimulation is great for their development, too much in one go can result in your baby becoming a little “wired”.

This overtiredness can really influences your baby’s ability to fall asleep (and stay asleep once down), and may lead them to cry before every nap.

Solution

  • Make sure you know how to tell if your baby is tried by looking out for signs including yawning, pulling at the ears, neediness, being fussy with food and a cry that is nasal, whiny and consistent.
  • Keep naptime and bedtime around the same time each day.
  • Don’t stretch awake windows: here are the maximum awake windows as recommended by sleep experts:
                                  • Newborn to 3 Months: 1 hour to 90 minutes
                                  • 4  to 6 Months: 2.5 to 2.75 hours
                                  • 7 to 9 Months: 3 to 3.5 hours
                                  • 10 to 12 Months: 4 hours
                                  • When On One Daily Nap: 6 hours

2. Your Baby Is Under Tired

Babies are extremely sensitive and finely tuned – too much stimulation can make it difficult to nap, but too little stimulation, movement and boredom can have the same effect.

Under-tiredness is therefore another possible reason why your little one may be fighting nap time and crying before a nap, especially if they fight their nap but not bedtime.

Experts recommend babies stay awake for a certain length of time (more on this below), and if you try and put your child to sleep while they are still in their awake window, you may be met with resistance.

Solution

  • Stick to the awake windows above instead of shortening the length of time your baby is awake for.
  • Ensure your baby has enough stimulated, activity and movement.

3. Their Room Isn’t Prepped For Sleep

Just as with adults, a baby will have the best chance of having a good sleep if their room is primed for sleep.

Lighting, temperature, distractions and noise all affect how easy it is for a baby to nap.

So consider the solutions below to ensure your child’s room when napping or sleeping has a different look and feel compared to awake time.

Solution

4. They Are In Discomfort

Unfortunately babies can’t tell us when something is wrong, and this can make it difficult to know if the reason your baby is fighting a nap is because they are in discomfort.

Teething, hunger, an illness or even being the wrong temperature can all make it more difficult for a child to settle down.

While these issues may be less of an issue at the end of the day, they can have a greater impact on daytime naps, so don’t rule these issues out when trying to determine exactly why your baby is fighting their nap (especially if the fighting has come on suddenly).

Solution

5. Their Routine Has Changed (Or Hasn’t Been Established Yet)

Babies and older children alike love (and need) a routine.

And one of the most important routines you can establish is a consistent pre-nap or pre-bed routine.

Once a routine has been established, it’s important not to change it unless necessary, because even something that may seem small – such as napping in a different location or at a slightly different time – can lead to your baby fighting their nap.

Solution

  • Go through the same routine before all daytime naps and before bed each night.
  • Dress your baby in the same type swaddle or sleep sack for both daytime naps as well as bedtime.
  • Try to use the same location for naps every day – ideally your child’s bassinet or crib.
  • Put your baby down to sleep at the same time each day.

Other Things To Consider

Sleep Regression

A “sleep regression” is when a baby or toddler experiences a shift in their sleeping pattern.

According to sleep specialists there are roughly six stages of sleep regression: when a baby is 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years old.

Typically, these regressions are associated with the various developmental milestones a baby experiences around those ages, such as learning to sit up, crawl, and walk. Other causes include separation anxiety, big life changes, and a desire for independence.

So if you find your baby fighting sleep or naps at 4 months for the first time, this could well be down to this natural regression.

There’s not much you can do about sleep regressions, but the good news is that they only last two to three weeks.

They Are Ready To Drop Their Nap

If you are reading this and you have a toddler, then the reason why your child is fighting their nap is because they no longer need it.

When a child reaches the age of three you may want to consider dropping their nap, because many preschoolers get enough sleep at night to enable them to give up their afternoon nap when they are three or four.

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