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You Can Convince Your Baby To Sleep In Their Own Crib


Help! My Baby Won’t Sleep In Their Crib

Getting a baby to sleep is one thing, having them sleep in their own bed after getting used to sleeping in your arms or bed is a whole other spectacle. It’s like living in the most beautiful, cozy home, then being forced to move out into, well, a not so cozy one.

It is a big transition that takes time and patience to get used to, but you eventually do. Transitioning a baby from the comfort of your arms to a crib that is not only different in temperature, but in texture too can be challenging but it’s possible. Consider the following tips on how to get baby to sleep in a crib.

Bed and bedding

Every baby needs a crib eventually and in keeping with crib safety standards that no longer allow for drop-side rail cribs, the product and material you choose must be safety certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association.

You may be tempted to buy a soft quilted mattress because of their comfort, but they pose a suffocation risk for an infant. A crib mattress should be firm and be made without vinyl or chemical flame retardants. It must also fit the dimensions of the crib perfectly, have no gaps or budging and carry a Greenguard accreditation to certify that it emits low emissions of volatile organic chemicals into the air.

As far as baby beddings are concerned, knit cotton, flannel, and high-count woven cotton are good options for fabric provided they are machine washable. Vertical crib liners offer protection for baby’s limbs from their flailing arms as well as padding whenever baby moves around their crib.

A soft, tightly fitted bottom sheet is highly recommended as it reduces the risks of entanglement or suffocation. You may also need to get about two or three machine-washable, waterproof mattress protectors or pads to protect the mattress from any diaper fails.

Temperature

Baby Oliver napping inside my shirt in the NICU

Babies are creatures of comfort and routine. They need warmth to cozy-up and feel safe, and what better place than in mom and dad’s arms?

I can understand totally if you have a situation like mine, where your baby spent a considerable amount of time in the NICU nursery after birth and it was actually detrimental to be skin to skin and holding baby 24/7. I kept my son inside my shirt for long periods of time so he would heal quicker. He stayed in the NICU until he was two months old.

Changing a baby’s routine will take time and patience and in order to help him or her feel safe and comfortable while sleeping in a crib, it’s important to ensure that the bed is not too cold before putting the baby down – enter The Magic Sleepsuit®  It’s not only warm and cozy, but you can also nurse and cuddle the baby while they are in a sleep suit and eventually put them to bed in it. The idea is to eliminate any loose cover such as a heavy blanket or quilt that can increase a baby’s risk of infant death syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation.

Use your good judgement either when swaddling or using a sleep suit on baby. If it is during the summer and nights are hot and humid don’t swaddle your baby. If using a baby sleep suit or a sleep sack doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can consider swaddling him or her during the first few weeks, however, after six weeks, ensure that you leave at least one of your baby’s arm free because often times they will use it to either for self-soothing or communicate hunger by sucking their hand.

Put baby down sleepy, yet awake

This method works like a charm, especially when you want the baby to acclimatize with his or her new surroundings. This can be achieved either by increasing a baby’s awake so that they are tired enough to fall asleep, or establishing a sleep routine, which can be anything from a bath, massage, soft music, swaddle, dimming the room, turning on white noise, etc. These routines prepare your baby to anticipate sleep, which in turn, helps them fall asleep faster and longer.

Putting your baby down sleepy but awake is also a great way to allow him or her to settle themselves and if they cry or fuss, it’s important to offer reassurance with a few kisses, cuddles, and pats on the back to resettle them, then step out of the room quietly.

It’s recommended to start putting your baby down sleepy or drowsy but awake in the first 3-4 months so that he or she can begin to develop sleep associations that do not rely on mom and dad for comfort and settling at night.

Additionally, this method also helps a child associate the crib with bedtime, and he or she will no longer need help getting back to sleep or require constant feeding or soothing during the night.

So like I said, when my son was first born he spent the first month and a half in the NICU nursery due to complications. So since the very beginning he had nurses and myself tending to him 24/7. Because he needed me to breastfeed him as well as constant love & attention, the hospital housed me there with my son as “guest” and not a patient. I would stay in the NICU all day and night holding my son next to my body.

Oliver napping in my shirt

After I had brought him home, I made the mistake of letting him sleep right next to me for two months straight AND THEN attempting to put him in his own bed for the very first time when he was around 4 months old – you know what that was like? It was like pulling a tooth!

I attempted to place him in his bed drowsy but awake and every single time he would cry ever so loudly, and since he was too young to sleep train ( ie: allow him to cry it out ) I would have to pick him up, rock him, and he would fall asleep in my arms. Then I would place him in his bed, which ultimately made it much harder for me to sleep train him when he turned 6 months old.

Old habits die hard: here goes Oliver several months later napping on mommy’s chest

 

Putting your baby into bed drowsy but awake from the get-go is also a great way to teach him or her to self-soothe, where your baby can calm down, relax and go to sleep again on their own. This, again teaches a child very early on to associate their crib with sleep. Some babies however, will suddenly jerk awake as soon as their head touches the pillow and in that case, you have to pick them up and rock them again.

It can become very tiring, I understand, after relentlessly rocking and then ever so slowly placing your baby down into their bed only to have them suddenly wake up again.

You might give up and just rock them to sleep until they are completely out, and that is when you place them in their bed – THAT is OKAY! You want to at least try as soon as you can to get your baby to learn better sleep habits, but you can only do your best and you cannot let your baby cry it out or sleep train them until they are at least 6 months old.

Set the stage for sleep

For some babies, the putting your baby to sleep drowsy but awake method may take some time, especially during the first few days of crib transition but if you give it a honest shot and keep trying, your baby can become used to sleeping in their crib faster and easier.

Dimmer light or darkness activates your body’s sleep hormone known as melatonin, therefore, working with your baby’s sleep at this point is key.

Once you determine your child’s exact naptime, you can begin setting the stage for sleep in the baby’s room, for instance by drawing the curtains, swaddling and sitting with your baby for a few minutes as you singing a lullaby to help relax and settle him or her.

It is ok to be flexible about feeding and sleep times when it comes to a newborn, but it still helps to start early and establish a routine that follows a particular order to help your baby settle into a regular sleep pattern.

For starters, try to avoid letting your baby sleep for more than four hours at a time during the day unless they really need to. The last thing you need is to limit your baby’s sleep too much enough to tire him or her out and make it harder to get to sleep at night.

Generally, newborns need to be fed every 2-4 hours and sleep better after a feed. Figuring out how to get your baby to sleep in a crib should be a good experience that will create a positive bedtime routine that both parties can enjoy in the long run.

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Hi Sophia, where I come from, we use spring hangers to rock babies to sleep. I am not keen with the idea because it’s labor intensive and I don’t want my baby to rely on motions all the time. I learned how to make the transition from the crib to the bed without upsetting his ( and mine ) sleep cycle. Thank you!

Your article is wonderful and very helpful to parents and even grandparents who are struggling. I thnkfully am past the stage (he is 24) .Yet I still remember it like yesterday,we got him the best mickey mouse disney themed everything crib too and he WOULD NOT sleep in it. So frustrating back than. Great suggestions,especially about using a glove I filled mine with beans and it worked pretty well.

Hi Sophia, your article brought back memories of how I got my son to sleep when he was 14 months old.  

I didn’t know that what I did was called sleep training!  I would play with him til he was tired, then carry him to his cot where he would promptly wake up and bawl his head off when he realised he was alone.  I had to steel myself to let him cry it out.

I would check him after 15 minutes and would always find him fast asleep in the same position, kneeling forward with his little behind in the air…maybe he was praying I return quick?  He did this every night. I think we all go through a very steep learning curve when we have our first baby…

But looking at Oliver – I’m feeling broody for another one!

Hi Sophia, what a beautiful son you have!!

My first grandson slept wonderfully. My daughter wasn’t able to nurse him, so we all had the blessing of bottle feeding him, and he transferred from basinette to crib beautifully.

Her second son was a totally different experience. She was able to nurse this time, and he slept beside her for a long time. He’s in a small crib next to her bed now, but still wakes up for comfort two or three times a night. It’s been a lot harder to get rest this time around.

She found that if she took a big glove, and filled it with something, then laid it on his back and backside, he thought it was her hand and settled down. As they say, necessity breeds invention, LOL.

Cheers,
Suzanne

AH YES! I have heard of that parlor trick! The way that I learned how it was done, was to fill a glove with a bunch of beans and then sew up the bottom. So then you have a big bean filled glove which you can place on your baby’s back like your daughter does. Pretty ingenious!

And all children are born with different temperaments. Some are just naturally better sleepers than others. Some children need a little more assistance and help going to sleep.

In regard to getting your baby to sleep in their own crib, it all comes down to being consistent. Switching baby from the sharing the family bed to the crib is bound to be difficult.

Babies will sleep in their own crib if they are put in their crib night after night.

Awesome tips! I didn’t struggle with getting my oldest to sleep in a crib (getting him to sleep…yes…but the crib wasn’t the problem. Hah!) but my youngest was another story entirely. I was not really a pro-bedsharing parent, but I found it was the only way I could get my baby to sleep for the LONGEST time. We did finally work through it, following many of these same tips. He is a great sleeper now. We used that magic sleep suit, too–worked well for my oldest, not so much for my youngest. But we figured it out. To all parents out there with terrible sleepers, you got this! These suggestions really do help, just stick with it.

Thank you Holly! All children are different; sometimes you get a good sleeper who won’t sleep in their crib but will sleep well next to you. If you are willing to have your baby next to you, then there are no laws or rules that say you can’t. Essentially you are the boss, and you can determine where your baby sleeps, but you just have to remain consistent and not confuse your baby with one night in their crib, the next night next to you. You are right, you will figure it out though. 

Hi Sophia, I remember when we used to swaddle my son and he would instantly communicate that he’s unhappy but then I would leave one of his hands free for comfort and it worked like a charm. I also realized with all my kids that having a sleep routine is extremely important. With my 9 month old daughter, I’m still having a hard time. She still wakes up 2-4 times a night and I would need to comfort her. sometimes she’s hungry, cold or hot but other times she just can’t sleep and expects me to hold her for hours which is very difficult to do at night. Any suggestion on that?

Hi Sierra, yeah some babies need to have one of their arms free in order to have access to their fingers ( for sucking )In regard of your daughter waking up several times in the night calling for you, it’s up to you if you want to continue to comfort her if she expects you to hold her hours, do you actually do it? If so you are sending a message to her that you will be there every time she wakes up then she will wake up at night time the same time every night, calling for you. In order to stop this habit, you might have to let her cry for a bit so she gets the message that its time to sleep.

Great article Sophia for parents having difficulties putting their babies to sleep in the cribs. I have gone through this as well and had to learn through repeated experimentation on the kind of bedding and the ambient lighting. I am now past that phase but I am sure your post will give new parents insights into this art.

Hi Sophia,

Its a tough one when they won’t sleep on their own. Took my little boy some getting use to alright. This is where sudders come into play and that was good for my son to sleep with. Barring winding, changing and constantly rocking babies to sleep in their crib, it can be a daunting challenge to get any sleep at all.

This post on how to get my baby to sleep in a crib is going to be a terrific post, especially for new parents, who are currently struggling with this issue. Thanks you Sophia for your amazing insight and research on this issue.

Hi Philip, how I got my baby to sleep in his crib was consistency; I made sure every night, at the same time I placed him in his bed, which is right next to mine anyway, and tell him “shhh its time for sleep” turn off the light and wait for him to settle down. You see, after a asleep regression phase or if I let him sleep next to me for a few nights, it might be really difficult for my son to adjust sleeping in his own crib. I just don’t have the patience to deal with him crying so I stretch out periods of him sleeping next to me – not fair, so it becomes more harder to get him to sleep in his own bed, granted the quicker you do it – the better

Sophia,
First Oliver is beautiful! Second this is a wonderful article! I have a 9 month old and can honestly say the best thing we have done to help her sleep in her own bed is putting her down drowsy. She just yawns, rolls over and sleeps through the night…well until 3am! We are still trying to figure out how to extend her sleep time but I am grateful for the sleeping mostly through the night!
KARA

Thank you Kara! Are you able to get your little one sleeping in a crib or does your baby co sleep with you? At nine months old my son slept beautifully next to me, he didn’t wake up at all! However it was how to get my baby to sleep in a crib that was the most challenging because he was used to sleeping next to mommy. The hard part is the first few nights of crying while your baby gets acclimated to their new bed. It is really up to you when you want to decide to move baby to their own crib.

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