Infants can get stressed just like grown-ups. If your child resists sleep, take a minute to make sure her problem isn’t a sign of stress. She may be troubled by:

  • Yelling or fighting—in real life or on TV.
  • Scary situations, including barking dogs, loud noises, an unfamiliar bedroom or a new or unfriendly people (a new sitter or teacher, or even a grandma who hasn’t visited in a while).
  • Separations, such as having to stay with sitters or having a regular caregiver suddenly leave.

Many other factors can contribute to stress in babies. With all the new stimuli in the world, if you as parents are feeling stressed, imagine what the baby could be feeling!

The above list  can especially upset fragile, super cautious infants who tend to get scared, lonely and extra cranky when unexpected changes occur.

Signs of Stress in Your Baby

The science of stress is deeply correlated to cortisol levels, both in adults and babies. Cortisol is known as the “fight or flight” hormone. Stress can take many forms but there are some serious signs we should be aware of in babies that can definitely negatively impact their sleep.

  • hiccupping
  • yawning
  • sneezing
  • frowning
  • looking away
  • squirming
  • frantic, disorganized activity
  • arms and legs pushing away
  • arms and legs limp and floppy
  • skin color changes

Studies have shown that dealing with your baby in gentle ways—cuddling, caressing, sweet talk, etc—can all help lower cortisol levels and thus lower stress in babies.


If you think stress is part of the problem, do what you can to protect your honey from these upsets and start a great bedtime routine to get her back in balance.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.