A common question that often pops up during presentation is the question –
‘WHY does my baby fight sleep?’
OR a they will offer a statement such as;
‘My baby DOES NOT like to sleep’
‘My baby is AWAKE all day’
I think that there is a misconception that babies naturally will sleep a lot or sleep will just be a natural occurrence, for some – this may be true, but we know there is a whole plethora of parents who really struggle and for their babies, sleep does not come easily (or it may feel like, not at all!)
The reality of course is that babies will often get fussy and cry when they are tired resulting in parents assisting them to calm down via, rocking, bouncing, walking, soothers etc during these acts, babies will often cry up, before they cry down and then ultimately fall to sleep.
DID YOU KNOW – it’s considered normal for a baby to cry for up to 20 minutes before they fall to sleep, just to unwind?
It feels unnatural, but it’s true – as an adult, we have a variety of ways in which we can unwind; reading a book, watching tv, having a glass of wine, going to the gym.
Babies, don’t have any of these options, the only way in which they can fall to sleep, is too often cry down to destress themselves first – it’s like a catharsis for them. Once they have it all out of there system they can relax and then nod off.
It is however, unsettling to parents when a baby is crying, it feels unnatural to allow them to do it, you may feel as though something else is wrong, but often what is wrong, is that they are tired and they are just venting it all out.
There is a fine line between being overtired and undertired and often when babies are overtired or have not slept well in the day, they have a witching hour around 5pm, where they can cry for a long period of time and all they are doing is venting / destressing.
When babies’ get into this zone, they will often close their eyes to block out light, cry to block out other noise and go a little rigid in their body as they don’t want to be overly touched.
They are just like us, how do we feel when we are tired – we want to be left alone too.
So in a nutshell:
It’s not that babies neccessarily fight sleep, but when in an overtired state they cry to destress so that they can unwind and fall to sleep.
They do like to sleep, but often associations are created without parents realizing they are being created, if you allow them to settle themselves they will sleep better.
They shouldn’t be awake all day, they should be in a pattern where they are napping frequently every X amount of hours based on their age, but naps are difficult to establish and often fall into place ONCE nighttime sleep is consistent.
If you need some guidance or support in this area or even if you just have some questions – please comment below!