Bedtime battles most often result from 1) problems in your child's schedule 2) problems setting limits as a parent and/or 3) sleep associations problems.
Listed below are some possible causes:
Listed below are some possible causes:
- May be going to bed too early. There are several things that often result in the occurrence of an earlier than needed bedtime: *Your child may be in his "forbidden zone for sleep" (see Biological Rhythms and Sleep) or not sleeping during his Nightly Sleep Phase. *He may be waking up too late in the morning. This results in a child needing a bedtime that is a bit later than he would normally need with an earlier morning wake up time. (see Nightly Sleep Phase). *Morning nap continues for too long or lasts too long This results in too much daytime sleep so while a child is tired in the afternoon and possibly cranky, he is not quite tired enough to fall asleep. This may also result in a later afternoon nap which might mean your child needs a later bedtime since he is not tired enough by his normal bedtime. To fix this drop the morning nap or shorten it. *Morning nap is too late. This makes the afternoon and possible other naps occur too late so your child is not tired enough by his bedtime since he has not had a waketime long enough. To fix this, move the morning nap and other naps slowly earlier each day.If this is not possible because you child won't fall to sleep at an earlier time, you may have to either shorten the morning nap significantly, drop it, or get your child up earlier in the morning.*Evening nap continues for too long or lasts too long. This may also result in your child getting too much sleep so he is unable to fall asleep at night even though he is somewhat tired (but not tired enough), or it may make it very difficult for your child to fall asleep at night simply because he has not had a long enough waketime following his evening nap before bedtime. To fix this eliminate the evening nap or make it shorter. *Evening nap is too late resulting in a need for a longer waketime before bedtime. To fix this either shorten the evening nap, drop it or slowly make it occur earlier each day(likely only possible if you are able to move the other naps earlier or if your child already has a longer than needed waketime before this nap).
- May be going to bed too late and is overtired. Have you recently dropped a nap and not made bedtime earlier? If so, incorporate a super early bedtime for a short time until your child gets used to not having this nap. Is your child staying up because he wants something, like television, mom/dad, toys etc. Is your child napping too late or too long into the evening and going to bed late? Even if waketime is appropriate before bedtime, a late nap can result in a fussy child when going to sleep.
- There is too much distracting, evening noise and/or fun activities going on that the child can hear.
- Your child may still be hungry. This is especially important to consider with babies under 8 weeks old since it is more common at this time. If baby isn't settling to sleep after 5-10 minutes when you put her to bed, try offering another feed to see if it helps. I generally suggest not feeding to sleep, but this is up to you.
- Your child's daily routine is inconsistent or inappropriate (naps, meals at the wrong times or at inconsistent times)
- Your child, not you, is running the show. Are you setting limits and being consistent? Do you let your child get out of bed once you have put him there? Are giving into your child because you are actually getting some secondary gains like getting to snuggle more before bed? Does your child go to bed more easily for other people?
- Your child may simply be wanting attention, even if it is negative attention. Is he getting enough attention during the day?
- Your child may be anxious. Leaving can make things worse. Still set limits, but don't leave your child alone in his room scared. Do try to not create too many bad habits while trying to deal with this anxiety.