Why do kids fight sleep?

Is your baby ‘fighting’ sleep? It’s a common terminology used by many and let’s be honest, it can be super frustrating to feel our child is ‘fighting’ sleep. Often we speak to parents who are brave and vulnerable who share their real emotions about feeling immensely broken by this. There can nearly become a resentment and a sense of ‘just go to sleeeeeeep already!’.

What if we told you that our babies don’t fight sleep? What if we told you they are struggling ‘to find’ sleep? So it’s not so much that they’re fighting sleep. It’s more that they’re just trying to figure out how to get to sleep. This may initially seem like just a shift in words but it’s a significant shift in concept and can result in a significant shift in our approach and even our emotions.

At Baby of Mine we talk about the Sleep Train. We each have a way of getting to sleep and this is our ticket. Our babies need to also have this ticket and sometimes things go wrong.

To continue with this analogy:

1. They need a new Train Timetable – their awake time may need some changing. Sure they may resist sleep because they are not tired but they are not ‘fighting it’

2. They missed their Train – that can be frustrating and now they are over tired and struggling to work out getting to sleep

3. They are carrying some extra luggage that they are struggling to manage – they may be over stimulated from their day, missed a sleep or had a short nap, not feeling well or going through a developmental leap that’s making it really hard for them to get on that train

4. New type of ticket – they were previously relying on your ticket (feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, dummy) and things have now changed and they really need their own ticket to get on the train

We hope this provokes some thoughts for you if you are ever feeling like your child is ‘fighting sleep’. Time and time again we see that this shift in understanding enables parents to remain calm, consistent and confident in how they support their babies.

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