Why does a baby struggle to sleep?

Por que o bebe reluta para dormir

One of the main problems faced by many mothers is when their babies have difficulty sleeping , whether they are newborns, second or even third born. When night comes and when everyone expects them to sleep, the exact opposite happens, and, as much as the parents try, they resist going to sleep with all their strength.

This struggle is comes with a lot of crying, irritation, eyes wide open, agitation and, of course, mixes together with tired mothers, fathers and even grandparents, stressed out, desperate and almost without hope.

To try to manage this situation, the strategy recommended by the laypersons and so-called specialists is to make all efforts for the baby not to sleep during the day, justifying that the baby needs a lot of activity during the day in order to become tired and sleep more easily at night.

What many don’t know is that babies, especially the newborns, need to sleep 16 to 20 hours daily, which should be divided between daytime naps and nighttime sleep, a period stipulated by the Brazilian Pediatric Society as vital and essential to the baby’s physical and mental health.

 Babies and children that do not sleep the recommended number of hours might have problems, such as:





-learning difficulty

-weakening of the immune system

Importance of naps


This is a subject that pediatricians and sleep specialists agree on: daytime naps are as important as nighttime sleep and other necessities of the baby.

Researchers of the Pediatric Department of the Semmleweis University in Hungary and from the Experimental Psychology Department at Oxford University in United Kingdom published a study stating that daytime naps significantly contribute to the total sleep time and are related to cognitive functions, emotional processing and self-regulation. (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5851571/). This study also shows the association of the daytime naps as a preventive measure of harmful effects of the lack of sleep and of factors of the immune system’s health, neuroendocrine and cardiovascular systems.


Vulcano Effect

The Vulcano Effect is the name given to the crisis the baby undergoes by not sleeping the total hours needed. It is marked by irritability and reluctance at sleep time.

It gets its name exactly because it is like the eruption of a volcano, when vapors and gases accumulate and are released with high pressure in a violent manner.

When the pressure of sleep increases in babies, homeostatic pressure occurs, leaving the baby annoyed and crying. The baby is exhausted but can’t sleep. This effect occurs because the lack of sleep releases a hormone called cortisol, related to stress.

Recognizing sleep signs

The best way to avoid your baby from getting nervous and not to going to sleep (or if he is not getting enough sleep) and struggles sleeping, even if he is very tired, is to pay attention to small but apparent signs.

– He has dark circles under his eyes or his face seems tired;

– He rubs his eyes, ears or face;

– He yawns, has hick ups or sneezes;


– He cannot concentrate on simple activities, like playing;

– He has no strength to breastfeed or eat properly;

– He sleep only a little during the day, disrupting the daytime naps;

– He easily sleeps inside the car;

– He is always irritated and sleepy;


How to teach your baby to sleep

Creating a routine for sleep time is a great start for your baby to learn how to do it. If you haven’t adapted the family habits to the baby’s routine, this is the time.

Schedule a ritual with a relaxing bath, massages, comfortable clothing, music or a soothing noise, stories and less stimulating games, dimmed lighting or preferably completely turned off.

It is interesting to initiate this program systematically from the baby’s first days of life. Gradually, he will understand when and how he should sleep, and, in less time than you expect, he will do it alone, in the crib, in his room, without any struggle, crying or any anger. Do not forget to schedule the daytime nap routine, as well.

Do you want to know more about how to teach your baby from the first days of life to sleep tranquilly all night long without irritation or fight under the direction of a baby sleep consultant? Click here and get to know Bebê Dorminhoco (Sleepy Baby), which has helped many mothers to have calmer babies, who sleep all night.