How to Get My Baby to Sleep in the Crib
Painting the walls in pastel colours. Setting up the crib. Hanging up the mobile. Isn’t this the scene playing in every mother’s mind when they first became mothers. Wouldn’t it be nice if baby would fall asleep in his bed every night? Alas! After the whole she-bang, baby ends up preferring mummy’s arm, the stroller, the carrier and the car seat. Anything but that dreaded crib.
If you are one of the many parents facing this issue, what can you do?
Why Won’t My Baby Sleep in the Crib?
Even before we begin to solve the issue, we first need to unravel the mystery behind your baby’s lack of love for his crib.
If Baby Has Previously Slept Well in a Crib
If your baby has previously slept well in a cot but has suddenly started resisting, the following may be something to explore:
- growth spurt
The sudden bouts of illness or pain, may have thrown his routine out of the window and now your child doesn't want to leave your side anymore. If that is the case, the rejection may be temporary and many of the tips below will work in this kind of situation too.
If Baby Has Never Slept in a Crib
However, if your baby has never learnt to sleep in the crib, then one of the following might be at play:
- Sudden change in Temperature
- Lack of motion
- Lack of sound
How to Help Baby Sleep in his Crib
Sudden Change in Temperature
Imagine yourself lying in your mother’s arms. Her arms are wrapped securely around you and you are shrouded by her warmth and smell. As you finally close your eyes, ready to drift off into a blissful sleep, you are yanked from the comforting cocoon and placed on a cold sheet. Wouldn’t your eyes snap right open too?
If this is your baby’s issue, you may want to ease your baby with this transition. There are a number of things you can do. The first one involves minimising the change in temperature your child experiences. You may want to warm up the sheets with either a warm water bottle or a warmable plush like SnuggleTike, so that when you place your baby in his crib, the temperature wouldn’t be so great that he would wake right up. Another thing you can do it to let your child hold his gently-warmed SnuggleTike throughout the transition. Its warmth and weighted body is very reassuring and can help your child sleep through the transition.
Lack of Motion
Babies love motion. Even babies who fight sleep like a cornered cat would fall asleep the moment they are in a carrier or car seat. In your womb, your baby is in a state of constant motion, bouncing around as you go about your day. This has been the de facto way in which he has fallen asleep all this while. Now you want him to sleep without this movement? How dare you? No wonder your baby is not silent about his displeasure.
This sleep association is a little harder to manage. If your baby has been napping in the carrier, carseat or your arms, you will have to take baby steps to wean your baby off the stillness. On the first night, place your baby in his preferred place of sleep (i.e. car seat, carrier, stroller, your arms) and staying still. Repeat this several times more until your baby has gotten used to falling asleep without movement. The next step would be placing him in his crib sleepy but awake. But we shall get to that in a bit.
Lack of sound
In your womb, your baby is surrounded by a cacophony of noise. And if your baby has been used to sleeping in your arms, chances are, she is also hearing your heartbeat (white noise!). Even if your baby has been sleeping like a champ in the carrier, stroller or car seat, she too is surrounded by the monotonous hum of the car engine, traffic or background noise.
White noise helps your baby to sleep. It provides a monotonous sound that drowns out any sudden noise that may wake your baby up. So if your baby, whom has been used to all that noise, is to suddenly be placed in a crib, and especially in a silent room, she may have a hard time falling asleep.
If this is the case, you can try getting a white noise machine to help to recreate the noisy environment that he is used to. Over time, gradually lower the volume so your baby does not have to rely on the white noise to fall asleep.
Other Critical Tips to Get Baby To Sleep in the Crib
Always Start with Night Sleep
When making all these transition, always start at night. That way, your baby’s circadian rhythm can weigh in to help your baby fall asleep. In addition, night time also provides you with a longer run-way to work on the sleep transition.
Give Him Plenty of Activities and Sunlight in the Day
Help make it easier for your baby to fall asleep at night by making him suitably tired by nightfall. This means giving him lots of chances to move about in the day. In addition, exposing him to plenty of sunlight and darkness at night helps his system to differentiate between night and day. This differentiation will then cue his body to turn down for the night.
Stick to a Routine
Babies love routine. Try to maintain the same sequence of events leading right up to his sleep: dinner time, quiet play, bath time, changing into pyjamas, a bed time story and finally sleep. This helps to get your baby ready for sleep come bed time.
One Other Thing: Sleepy but Awake
Last but not least is to place your baby down sleepy, but awake. This way, your baby will have time to get used to the feel of the crib as she falls asleep. Over time, she will form the sleep association that this too, can be a place of rest. This wouldn’t go without a protest of course, so you will have to steel your heart and slowly increase the amount of time you wait before you go in and check on your baby.
Sleeping in a crib is a skill. And like any other skill, it takes time and practice. Many times when you start making the transition, it can lead to plenty of tears. But do take heed. Your baby is a survivor. That’s how our human ancestor have survived over millennials after all. If you stay the course, this too shall get better.