Why do some newborns fight sleep?

Newborns are essentially born to sleep. The average newborn baby will sleep a whopping 16 to 17 hours a day, a total that’s by far more than the average adult sleeps. So it’s sometimes puzzling to people who hear new parents talking about a newborn fighting sleep. I mean, how much could they be fighting sleep if they’re still sleeping 16 or 17 hours a day? And of course the new parent will roll their eyes at people who don’t understand baby basics. Newborns sleep a lot, but they are awake every 3-4 hours to feed, and they don’t sleep on a regular schedule like the adult population does. They’re on a different dimension of sleep, and it can be a war to get newborns to sleep sometimes.

Newborns fighting sleep has been a parental dilemma since newborns were created. Thankfully in this more modern age of information, we’ve got a lot of knowledge about what creates the problem and how to fix it. And if the problem can’t always be fixed, there’s a lot of good stories about how parents made it through the struggle without losing their minds. When a newborn routinely won’t sleep even when it feels like they should be sleeping, it’s time to take some action and get to the crux of the problem. Newborns can have sleep difficulties for many different reasons.

Why A Newborn Is Fighting Sleep

From birth to 3 months, your child will usually have a certain amount of time where they stay awake. This window ranges from 45-60 minutes from birth to 6 weeks and 1 to 1.5 hours for 2 and 3 month old babies. If your newborn is fighting sleep and staying awake a much noticeably longer time, there can be a few reasons for this.

  • Over-stimulation might be one reason your newborn is fighting sleep
  • Baby might be hungry
  • They may be sleeping too lighting and not getting into a deep sleep, causing sleep disruption
  • The temperature in the room can cause discomfort for a baby
  • Baby isn’t on a consistent sleep schedule

These are but a few of the reasons that a newborn is fighting sleep. Just like all problems that have a specific cause, the solution will depend on the problem. Your job is to figure out precisely why your newborn is fighting sleep and then solve the dilemma for them. If you know that your baby is staying awake far too long or not getting enough sleep, it’s time to kick into parenting gear and help your newborn get on a better sleep schedule. To help a newborn who is fighting sleep finally get into a peaceful slumber, it’s best to begin with a positive attitude and demeanor, thereby calming your newborn as well.

Parents understandably have difficulty maintaining calmness when it’s 3 AM, they have work at 6 AM, and baby is just not settling into a good sleep. It can be maddening. It’s good to know, then, that there are actually some techniques that might just help you avoid that “no sleep” work day. When a newborn fights sleep, they change your schedule around, too, and this can lead to even greater sleep problems for you and your newborn because a tired parent often forgets a feeding or a diaper change. If chaos has been the rule in your household since your newborn declared a war on sleep, it’s time to get to the heart of the problem and fix it.

How To Help A Newborn Fighting Sleep

Your job as a parent is to create a sleep schedule that works for your baby, but with newborns sleep schedules can be all but out the window because of the newborn’s lack of knowledge about life and sleep in general. They’re just starting out here, so it’s always so very important to make sure that you are gentle and kind with a newborn, even when they’re causing massive sleep deprivation and some very understandable anxiety in your life.

Your disposition will frequently rub off on your newborn. Even at this tender age, a baby can pick up on emotional cues from their parents and look to those same parents to guide their emotional states. Sure, they’re not consciously thinking in those thoughts or terms, but it’s a well-established principle among some experts. There’s always room for debate in this area, and it’s shocking how little we truly understand of the newborn’s emotional world, but suffice it to say that you’re a very big part of their world. They look to you for all their needs and especially for comfort. If your newborn is fighting sleep, you can try some of the following things to soothe them and make sleep more appealing.

  1. Limit sleep to just one part of the house. Newborns thrive on routine and predictability. As we get a bit more accustomed to them, we might switch up areas of the house they sleep in so that they can be near us while they’re sleeping. A good suggestion might be to go back to just sleep confined to the crib.
  2. Focus more on the sleep routine. Have a healthy sleep schedule in place and stick to it. Life certainly happens, and it can be easy to just wing it, but for the good of your newborn, let’s get them back on a truly dependable sleep schedule. They will very likely benefit from this, and you will, too.
  3. Make sure that your newborn is getting enough milk. Babies need to eat regularly, and even skipping one meal can make sleep time a nightmare later on. With all of your other responsibilities, it could be you’re accidentally missing those scheduled feeding times, paving the way for your baby to wake up because he or she is hungry. Focus on the meal time schedule, too.
  4. Get on a good diaper changing schedule. The fact is, when your baby is uncomfortable, it’s possible your newborn is fighting sleep because they need to be changed. If you stick are more diligent about changing diapers, it can really help. And of course, it’s understandable if this is one of the areas where you just wing it. A lot of parents do, and a newborn’s pooping habits don’t exactly stick to a set routine. A diaper change right before bedtime can really excite them and make it hard for them to sleep. Realize that babies don’t usually mind that wet diaper and can sleep right through it.
  5. Avoid eye contact with your newborn before sleep. This is so hard to do for many parents because a newborn is just so darn cute. Eye contact can make a baby very excited because they enjoy eye contact with you just as much as you do with them. At sleep time, this can present a real problem and make it harder for them to go to sleep. Avoid looking at those gorgeous peepers until waking time.

You Can Win Every Battle!

Go into every instance of a newborn fighting sleep with a positive attitude. This is really hard to do at times, especially if your newborn is fighting sleep so much that it’s causing sleep deprivation for you, but with a lot of love for your little one and the idea that they will eventually fall asleep, you can prevail in this overall war, making every battle a little easier for both you and your newborn. The newborn is really a creature of habit, so when you’re creating your strategy here, think of schedule as king. When you stick to the schedule, they’re going to be more apt to be comfortable with that, and comfort spells sleep for a newborn.

Conclusion

Any new parent of a newborn is going to struggle with the sleep issue sometimes. It’s one of the most common newborn problems for parents, and it’s a maddening one. Parents have a lot to do during the day, and a baby who is fighting sleep can cause so much frustration and exhaustion for parents. Parents who have a newborn who is fighting sleep will find much relief in the form of routine, non-stimulating only activity before putting the newborn to bed, and a little bit of positivity when you can muster it. A calm parent makes for a calmer newborn. With a little practice, you can master the art of patience even in the event of extremely haywire sleep habits from newborns.