Why Do Toddlers Fight Sleep: 4 Reasons and Solutions

As a parent of a toddler, I can say that there are few things more enjoyable than seeing my little one calmly drift off for a peaceful night’s sleep.

On the flip-side, I can also say that there are few things more frustrating than seeing my little one fight against falling asleep any which way he can.

I’m sure every parent has had to deal with this issue. But why do toddlers fight sleep, and what can we do to help them get off to sleep as smoothly and as quickly as possible?

Read on for everything I’ve discovered over the years. Some tips and advice that helped me set a bedtime routine for my toddler, and ways I found for sleep to win the fight and allow me to enjoy a peaceful evening!

It May Be Separation Anxiety

There is a lot of different information about separation anxiety, along with when and how toddlers grow out of it. You can never rule it out as a reason if your toddler fights sleep every night however.

In most cases, it’s fairly easy to appease this anxiety. Reassurance is the key for most children, they need to know you’re not far away and they can feel safe.

There is a balance between giving in to their demands and reassurance however. Spend some time reading stories and talking to your toddler, but don’t make a rod for your own back by staying with them for hours each night.

There are a couple of things you can try, such as leaving their bedroom door open a little, or using a night light. I know the night light worked wonders for my little one so I always recommend trying this.

It May Just Be Their Personality

This can be a tough reason to take as it means there might be little you can do to change their attitude towards fighting off sleep, but it’s nice to know there is nothing else bothering them.

As toddlers develop more of their personality I’m sure you’ve been noticing all kinds of interesting little personality traits.

While fighting off sleep and causing a stir when it’s time to go to bed might just be one of those personality traits.

Toddlers that are more socially aware and keen learners will often be less likely to sleep without a little battle. There is just too much going on and too many things to see and do to simply sleep!

It May Be Because of Sleep Regression

Often referred to as the 8, 9, or 10 months sleep regression period because it affects these ages, a lot of toddlers will also experience a period of sleep regression at 18 months, and around the 2 year mark.

This is a result of your little one going through a developmental leap. It can be due to them having too much going round their brain, or just a desire to practice their new skills instead of sleeping.

There isn’t much more you can do than be patient though this period. As well as of course giving them plenty of reassurance and emotional support.

Although it can be trying on your patience when your little one will not sleep, keep in mind it’s not going to last for long.

It May Be Because Your Toddler Isn’t Tired Enough

Even if you’re shattered after a long day running around after your little one, they might not be quite so tired if they’ve had a couple of long naps.

You probably know what it feels like to try and go to bed when you’re not tired enough to sleep. For a toddler, crying and shouting to get back up is usually their first response.

Think about how long they napped for during the day and what time you’re putting them to bed. Tweak the times a little to ensure they’ve been awake a little longer in the day and see if that makes a difference.

It May Be Because Your Toddler Is Too Tired

This always sounds intuitive but is a very common reason for toddlers shouting down the house instead of going to sleep.

I’m sure you’ve noticed your child has a ‘window’ of opportunity when it comes to getting them off to sleep.

If you miss this window they can end up getting themselves too worked up to get off to sleep. It usually results in bad behavior during the day and being disruptive at bedtime.

With some patients and reassurance you should be able to get them off to sleep without too long of a disturbance.

Setting good bedtime habits and routines is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen too often. Consistent nap and bedtimes is important for toddlers.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article helps to answer, ‘why do toddlers fight sleep’?

A lot of this information also applies to babies. So, if you’re looking for help with a 2-month-old fighting sleep, or a 6 months old fighting sleep, the try some of the advice listed above too.

Good luck, I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of the reasons for your toddler resisting bedtime, and you’ll all be having harmonious sweet dreams in no time.

Check out the best pillows for toddlers if you’re looking for a new pillow or thinking of trying one to see if it helps them sleep better.