You see the eye lids drooping. The tell tale signs of fatigue are creeping over her body: clumsiness, rubbing her eyes and nose, yawning. . . And yet, if you were to actually put her down or do any of the things you normally do to get your baby to sleep–she fights it. It’s as if her brain has turned a switch that says, “Must. . .stay. . .awake. . .” What is a parent to do?
There is no one reason why babies fight sleep and every family, every baby and every parent is different. However, when I have seen this behavior in my own children it has often been attributable to either a) some sort of discomfort or b) too much stimulus.
Too Much Stimulus
It is a wives’ tale, or at least an incorrect statement to say that a “baby is too tired to sleep” or is “over tired”. Babies are very smart and let’s face it: they know where the party is. Some babies are more sensitive to stimuli than others and for these more sensitive babies, chances are good that if you’re out, if something is going on, if there is anything in the world that seems more interesting than sleep, your baby will try to choose that option.
So What Do You Do?
I will say first that establishing a pattern of eating, sleep and playing will help avoid overly tired and cranky babies. They come to organize their thinking and their day around the times for eating, and sleeping and this can be a big help.
A stroll around the block is also not a bad idea. Sometimes, babies need help to simply stop moving long enough to fall asleep. However you can get them to stop moving. . .be it car seat, stroller or laying down in bed. . .will help them get the sleep they need when they need it.
For babies who are very sensitive to stimuli, you may also want to consider black out blinds for their bedroom and making the room as plain as possible.
In any case, just remember, it’s only for a short time that they’re babies.