One problem that most parents face with babies and toddlers is that their baby tries to fight sleep whenever they could. Instead of getting drowsy and sleepy at night the baby shows signs of agitation by arching his back or by crying or by pulling away to avoid going to sleep.
While this is a difficult situation for parents to be in, there are certain things that parents can do to deal with this situation. The first is to understand a baby’s sleeping pattern and what is the normal duration of sleep for babies at different stages of growth. A parent must then identify reasons that may be making their baby stay awake at night or why the baby is fighting bedtime; is it because your baby is overtired, or is it because your baby is not exhausted enough to sleep or is it because of separation anxiety that he might be having trouble sleeping. All these reasons are worth exploring.
Baby sleeping duration from newborn to toddlerhood
1. 0-6 months
This is the earliest stage when the baby is a newborn and mostly spend his time sleeping. In this phase the baby should be sleeping between 16 to 18 hours a day. The baby spends 50 percent of his sleep in REM (rapid eye movement) state which is like dreaming and the other 50 percent in the non-REM state which is a deep sleep.
2. 6-12 months
When a baby reaches 6 months he does not need to be fed at night so typically a baby should sleep uninterruptedly for approximately 6 to 9 hours a day. Napping at least four to five times a day is also normal at this age.
3. 12 – 18 months
The baby in this stage is developing and sleeps on an average 7 to 8 hours at night. However, parents may notice sleep disturbance as the baby approaches later months as motor skills are developing and the baby is adjusting to his newly acquired skills. The baby may nap two to three times a day for short periods up to an hour during this stage.
4. 18 – 24 months and above
In this stage the baby is most likely to wake up at night as most babies are walking and mentally more active than before. They are also more aware of their surroundings and as they start sleeping separately in their rooms they might experience separation anxiety and wake up once or twice at night. The sleep cycle is 6 to 8 hours with one long nap in the day.
Baby fighting naps all day
Naps are an integral part of an infant’s growth and development. It is natural and necessary for babies and toddlers to nap in the day because at this age they are developing physically and mentally and naps help their system reboot and stay fresh throughout the day. However, many parents struggle to make their baby nap in the day. There are a few reasons why your baby might not want to nap:
1. Your baby is overtired
Babies are sensitive and it is important that they have set routines. When a baby is drowsy or sleepy it is an indication to the parents that he has to be put to sleep. However, this sleep window is small and many parents often ignore these sleep cues by babies which makes their baby overtired and he ends up skipping naps. Let us warn you that an overtired baby is usually the crankiest baby!
2. Baby is not sleepy
Sleep is a natural instinct of the body. The body exhibits signs of sleep when it is tired or exhausted. However, if your baby is not ready to nap and not showing signs of sleepiness or drowsiness then it is possible that he is not tired enough to sleep. Make sure that you engage your baby with activities and play time sufficiently so he is tired by his nap time and can fell asleep comfortably with little resistance.
3. Not having a set routine
It is all about routine and therefore it is essential that parents have a strict nap schedule for their baby. For this, parents must closely observe their baby for certain gestures and facial cues such as drowsiness or arching of the back which may indicate sleepiness. Whenever, the baby exhibits such signs it is important that he is put to nap or sleep. This will allow parents to develop a sound routine for their baby.
4. Having the right environment
Your baby’s surroundings play an important role when you are trying to make him sleep. Sleeping in the night is easier because there is less light and less noise therefore a parent must ensure that when their child is napping in the day, he is in a comfortable, dim room where he can sleep without interruptions. The temperature of the room and a baby’s clothing also play a part in how comfortably he naps.
5. Your baby is getting older
Sleep patterns and durations change as a baby phase into a toddler. Therefore, if your baby is not napping at a certain time or is napping at different times it might just be because he is ready to reduce the number of naps per day. In this scenario the duration of naps may also vary.
How to stop baby fighting sleep?
If your baby is fighting sleep then the first thing you must do is to identify the reason why your baby is having a hard time falling asleep. Once you have identified the reason for the lack of sleep you can tackle it accordingly. The first thing a parent can do is to adjust the nap schedule. Observe your child closely and see how and when does he shows signs of drowsiness and sleepiness. Change the schedule for napping for your child accordingly.
Below is a cute video of a baby fight sleep but trust me that it can get ugly for parents if this sticks around for too long.
The second thing a parent can do it to choose an earlier bedtime. Make your baby go to sleep a little early in the night and adjust his day naps. This is especially useful for baby’s that are growing out of their nap phase or for those whose sleep schedule is changing. If your child continues to fight sleep even after the schedule changes then there might be separation anxiety or sleep association issues. In this case you must try and train your baby to gradually sleep unassisted.
Is my baby overtired?
Following is a video that explains baby indicators to tell you that the baby is overtired. This might help in preventing the baby getting overtired.
Overtiredness is a sign of exhaustion and physical fatigue in babies which can affect the physical and cognitive development of a child and should not be left unaddressed. An overtired baby is a sleep deprived baby. When a baby misses its nap time, it throws him off his sleep schedule which can lead to overtiredness in babies. Your child may exhibit certain signs of overtiredness such as grumpiness, rubbing their eyes, yawning, losing interest in food or toys, difficulty in latching during breastfeeding, arching his back and stiffening of the body, and avoiding eye contact. If you notice two or more of these signs then your baby is overtired.
Tips on establishing a bedtime routine for better sleeps at night
Parents can adopt certain practices that make their baby feel relaxed at night before they sleep. These practices can become a bedtime routine and will stabilize your baby’s sleep schedule throughout the day.
Bathing and washing up before sleep is a great way to make your baby feel relaxed. Throw on a clean diaper and a fresh pair of comfortable night clothes to make the baby comfortable before sleep. A quick massage may also help your baby fall asleep faster.
Following is an example of a night time routine.
As babies grow, their motor muscles are developing and they tire easily. Massaging them with baby oil will help them calm down and ease their muscles. Make sure your baby is well fed before sleep. Singing a lullaby and lying down with your baby for a bit will also help him fall asleep.
Sleep is important for a baby’s development and therefore issues related to sleep should not be left unaddressed. Whether its nap schedules or nighttime sleep that need adjusting, parents must take extra care to observe and pay attention to their child’s sleeping patterns. The above rules and tips not only help you identify the issues that your baby might face falling asleep but it also provides you with quick, simple tips to help your baby sleep better. Having a set routine and a proper nap schedule is the key to good sleep. Remember, a well-rested baby is a healthy, happy baby.