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Can a one month old fight their sleep?

Why do babies fight sleep?

It is very common for babies to fight sleep or resist naps, especially around 1 month old. There are a few main reasons babies this age may fight sleep:

  • Overstimulation – At this age, babies are becoming more alert and want to look around and interact. However, they can easily become overstimulated, making it harder for them to wind down and sleep.
  • Developmental changes – Major developmental changes are happening at 1 month. Babies are more aware of their surroundings and experiencing new skills and senses. This can make them want to stay awake longer.
  • Circadian rhythm development – A circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour clock that regulates sleep. At 1 month, this rhythm is just starting to develop as babies begin to recognize the difference between day and night.
  • Separation anxiety – Babies may start becoming anxious when parted from parents/caregivers. They may fight sleep to stay close.
  • Discomfort – Hunger, gas, or a wet diaper could prevent sleep. Or they may be too hot or cold.
  • Sleep associations – If babies are used to falling asleep a certain way, like rocking or nursing, they may resist sleeping otherwise.

While frustrating, fighting sleep is normal at this age as babies learn to self-soothe and settle into sleep cycles. With time and consistency, they will get better at falling asleep on their own.

When do babies start fighting sleep?

Babies often start resisting sleep around 4-8 weeks old. At this age, they are becoming more alert during daytime hours and their sleep cycles start maturing. The period between 6-8 weeks is a peak time for babies fighting sleep. However, some babies may start as early as 2-4 weeks old. Premature babies in particular may resist sleep from a very early age.

Here is a timeline of when babies commonly start fighting sleep:

  • 2-4 weeks old – More alertness leads to interest in surroundings. Earliest fighting sleep.
  • 4-6 weeks old – Normal peak of fussiness and crying. May fight sleep due to overstimulation.
  • 6-8 weeks old – Major mental development. Separation anxiety emerges. Main period of fighting sleep.
  • 8-12 weeks old – Sleep cycles mature. Can self-soothe better. Fighting sleep improves.

While each baby is different, parents can expect sleep struggles to peak around 6-8 weeks and then start improving after that point as babies adapt. However, sleep regressions and resistance can continue through 4-5 months and beyond.

How long does the fighting sleep stage last?

The stage when babies actively fight and resist sleep usually lasts 4-6 weeks, on average. It may start around 4 weeks old and often will improve significantly around 8-12 weeks old as babies get better at self-settling.

However, the total duration can vary:

  • 2-3 weeks – Some babies have a shorter period of resisting sleep.
  • 4-6 weeks – Average duration of active sleep fighting.
  • 8+ weeks – Colicky or high needs babies may fight sleep for a longer window.

While the peak fighting sleep stage is usually temporary, some babies may continue to struggle with short naps or bedtime resistance until 5-6 months or beyond. Regressions can occur due to developmental leaps, teething, or changes in routine.

Consistency, proper day/night sleep cues, developmentally appropriate wake times, and calming bedtime routines will help minimize fighting sleep as babies mature.

What are the signs of fighting sleep?

Here are some common signs that a 1 month old is fighting or resisting sleep:

  • Rubbing eyes, yawning, fussing – Baby is tired but fights signs of sleepiness.
  • Arching back, pulling away – Resists being rocked or cuddled to sleep.
  • Difficulty falling asleep – Takes longer to fall asleep at naps/bedtime.
  • Short naps – Catnaps frequently instead of longer sleep cycles.
  • Crying when sleep time approaches – Protests bedtime or resists the crib.
  • Needing motion to sleep – Only falls asleep while rocking, swinging, in stroller.
  • Waking soon after falling asleep – Can’t transition through sleep cycles.

These signs indicate an overtired baby who wants to stay awake to fight FOMO (fear of missing out). Paying attention helps identify times of day when baby struggles with sleep transitions.

What are the consequences of fighting sleep?

When babies fight sleep for extended periods, it can negatively impact their mood, development, and behavior. Some consequences include:

  • Crankiness and fussiness – Overtired babies tend to cry and be upset more often.
  • Difficulty soothing – Exhausted babies have a harder time calming down.
  • Disrupted night sleep – Fighting naps can lead to shorter stretches at night.
  • Delayed development – Lack of sleep may impact milestone progression.
  • Increased risk of SIDS – Extreme sleep deprivation raises SIDS risk.
  • Poor feeding – Too tired to eat well or nurse effectively.
  • Greater parental stress/fatigue – Constant battle for sleep is exhausting for parents.

Sleep is crucial for healing, growth, and brain development in infants. While some resistance is normal, prolonged bouts can negatively impact babies and families. Supporting healthy sleep habits early is beneficial.

Tips for dealing with a 1 month old fighting sleep

Here are some tips to help a 1 month old get the sleep they need:

Watch wake windows

At 1 month, babies should only stay awake for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours before naps. Watch for tired signs like yawning.

Age Time Awake Between Naps
Newborn 30-45 minutes
1 month 45-60 minutes
2 months 60-90 minutes

Establish bedtime routines

Solid bedtime routines like swaddling, white noise, and lullabies signal sleep time.

Manage stimulation

Keep activities calm with muted lighting when sleep is approaching.

Address discomfort

Check for signs of reflux, gas, hunger issues that may interfere with sleep.

Try motion

Gentle rocking, car rides, or swings can help induce sleep when fighting it.

Don’t rush to intervene

Give fussy babies a chance to self-settle before responding immediately.

Recognize tired signs

Yawning, rubbing eyes, distended eyebrows all say “sleepy” before crying starts.

Develop self-soothing skills

Put baby down drowsy but awake to drift off independently without props.

Rule out medical issues

Consult your pediatrician if resistance persists for an underlying condition.

Emphasize day/night difference

Make days busy and stimulating. Keep nights quiet, dim and boring.

Accept some fussing

Letting babies fuss briefly before intervening prevents short naps from bad habits.

Try a wind-down routine

Bath, massage, feeding, singing a consistent pre-sleep routine.

Don’t overhelp

If asleep, don’t rush to assist at every sound to allow self-settling.

Improve daytime feedings

Ensure baby eats enough during the day to minimize hunger disrupting night sleep.

Common mistakes parents make

It’s easy for sleep deprived parents to reinforce poor sleep habits without realizing it. Here are some common mistakes:

  • Overtired baby – Missing sleep signals and keeping baby awake too long between naps.
  • Inconsistent routine – Naps, bedtime, and routines vary day to day confusing baby’s clock.
  • Feeding to sleep – Nursing or bottle feeding to sleep becomes the only way baby naps.
  • Too much daytime sleep – Long or too frequent naps lead to night waking.
  • Stimulation before bed – Playtime too close to bed makes winding down hard.
  • Bad sleep associations – Rocking, swinging, or props like pacifiers become sleep crutches.
  • Not addressing needs – Allowing babies to become too hungry, wet, or uncomfortable before sleep.
  • Intervening too soon – Not giving babies a chance to self settle when fussy.
  • Negative sleep cues – Stress, harshness, anxiety around sleep time.
  • Unrealistic expectations – Assuming babies will sleep through the night or take long naps too early.

Identifying counterproductive sleep practices and making gentle adjustments can often significantly improve babies’ sleep.

When to call the doctor about sleep struggles

While some resistance is normal, contact baby’s pediatrician if:

  • Fighting sleep persists over 6-8 weeks with no improvement
  • Sleeping less than 10 hours total in 24 hours
  • Frequent waking all night long
  • Difficulty soothing or calming baby
  • Signs of medical issues like reflux or allergies
  • Developmental delays or plateau
  • No interest in interacting or feeding
  • Parental exhaustion, depression, or frustration

Never hesitate to mention sleep problems at medical checkups. The doctor can help rule out underlying conditions or provide guidance.

Does the sleep fighting end?

The good news is that this period does end! Most babies come through the 4-8 week peak of fighting sleep and begin sleeping more peacefully by 3-4 months old. Making sure baby feels secure, addressing needs promptly, and being consistent with loving routines will help minimize fighting sleep. By trusting the process and soldiering through the tough early weeks, parents and babies come out the other side stronger and more settled. Those restful, babbling crib days await!


It’s normal for 1 month old babies to start resisting sleep more as they become more aware and want to take in the world around them. While this fighting sleep phase can be exhausting for parents, it is temporary and manageable. Laying a solid sleep foundation with developmental best practices will help babies settle in their own time. Consistency, patience and self-care for parents helps rode out these early challenges. With the right support and care, babies learn to become great little sleepers in time.