Three reasons your baby won't sleep in their crib and what to do about it

You've been rocking your baby for the last 30 minutes, and she is finally dozing you set her in the crib, only for her to wake up immediately upon the transfer! Sound familiar?

Maybe you've read everywhere that setting your baby in her crib "drowsy but awake" is important to establish a healthy association, but try as you might, your baby just won't sleep in the crib/bassinet!

We understand how frustrating this is, and we want to break down why this happens and how you can help your baby love her crib!

Here are the top 3 reasons your baby rejects the crib/bassinet:

  1. Your baby isn’t used to it

Here's the thing...before your baby was born, she spent nine months in your warm belly, snuggled up tight, surrounded by noise and fluid. So it's no wonder that she doesn't want to be set down on a firm mattress in a box-shaped sleep area.

This is why it is so important to help replicate those womb feelings with swaddling, white noise, and a dark environment. 

This is also why it is important to help your baby get used to the crib/bassinet by setting her there at the start of every nap and at the end of your bedtime routine. That repetition will help her become more familiar with this space for sleep, and once she learns there isn't another option, she WILL adapt in time.

2. The timing of when your baby is placed in her crib/bassinet is off

When you put your baby in the crib makes a huge difference in how she will respond. If she's over-tired and fussy, for example, she might cry or even scream when placed in the crib, causing you to believe she actually "hates" her crib.. It is important to follow your baby’s age-appropriate awake windows so you know you’re not putting them down too early or too late.

If your baby is a newborn, don't worry about placing her in the crib awake. You can practice this once she hits the 2.5/3 month mark, but until then, place your baby in her crib fully asleep if that helps. Although she won’t have practice falling asleep in it, she is still getting used to it as a sleep space.

If your baby is not a newborn, and she has been sleeping in a different space up until now, use this same practice (place her in the crib asleep as opposed to awake) as you ease her into the crib transition.

You can also stay in the room a bit longer than you normally would to soothe, or take a seat in a chair nearby, as opposed to simply removing her from her crib and giving her the option of another space for sleep. The key is to be consistent. If you want to make this change, make sure your baby knows that there isn’t another option. If you move her to your bed after 5 minutes of crying, she will learn that if she cries for 5 minutes, that’s where she will end up.

3. The environment isn't set up for sleep

If the space where your crib/bassinet is set up isn't promoting of sleep, then your baby isn't being given the opportunity to get the rest that she really needs!

This might include your room. Although the AAP recommends room-sharing (not bed-sharing) for up to 12 months, we know that babies sleep lighter when they are in their parents’ room. Whether or not you follow that recommendation, you want to make sure the room (either your room or the nursery) is free of distraction, is completely dark (this includes naps), doesn't let a lot of outside noise in (other than a white noise machine), and is set to the recommended temperature of between 68-72 degrees F.

Remember that even if your baby is capable of falling asleep in a stroller in the middle of the grocery store, that doesn't mean that is where her best sleep happens, and it is up to us to create the best possible sleep environment for her! 

*If you've tried all of these things (for at least 3 weeks consistently) and your baby is still rejecting their crib/bassinet, reach out to us here and we will be happy to help!

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Rachel GortonComment