How To Get Baby To Sleep In Crib (Tips & Tricks)
It can be hard to make the bassinet-to-crib transition, for both you and your baby — You’re not used to being so far apart during nap and sleep time! But it’s not just an emotional challenge.
If your baby has a restless night, you’ve got to get out of bed and tend to them in their nursery, which can be exhausting to say the least.
My daughter recently made the switch, and it was a struggle, but after consulting our postnatal health visitor for some pro tips and tricks, we managed to build our little one’s sense of comfort and security in her crib.
Today, I’ll be running through the advice she gave us that really, really worked, so you and your bundle of joy can enjoy peaceful rest at this transitional time in their development.
Read on to get that full night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming of during your 10-minute naps.
Tip 1 — Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the less a baby sleeps during the day, the more they’d sleep in the night, but, on the contrary, if they don’t get the rest they need during the day, the night is almost certainly going to be quite turbulent.
Combine this with the move to a new bed in a new room, and you’ve got yourself a seriously sad baby!
Ideally, you’ll be working to a fairly consistent nap and bedtime schedule to aid in the development of your child’s circadian rhythm, i.e. their innate sense of night and day, so they’ll sleep for short periods during daylight hours, and then enjoy one long sleep at night.
My partner and I had been trying to keep sleep regimented, but we were definitely guilty of letting things slide from time to time. We just didn’t realize how much each slip was inhibiting progress.
Once we started being more concrete with our daughter’s sleep schedule, things got a lot easier.
Side Note — Don’t forget to amend sleep schedules as your little ones become slightly bigger little ones.
Tip 2 — Introduce Them To Their Crib
Babies need to feel comfortable with their surroundings in order to fall asleep, and if they fall asleep in your arms initially, then wake up in an alien environment, naturally, they’re going to freak out, just as we would if we woke in an unfamiliar place.
So, rather than spring the move on them all of a sudden, give them plenty of time to hang out in their nursery and crib during awake hours.
Do all you can to establish it as a safe space. My partner and I would place our daughter in her crib, then read stories to her, sing to her (“Big Rock Candy Mountain” is her jam!), and play peekaboo.
Our health worker also instructed us to periodically leave the room for small amounts of time to slowly build her confidence being alone in this new space — It worked like a charm!
Perhaps the most essential part of this process was staying with her and shushing her to sleep while she was in her crib, so she got used to drifting off in the space.
I highly recommend encouraging little crib naps with you there in the room.
Tip 3 — Patience Is Everything!
Babies are veritable information sponges — It’s why they’re such great language learners! However, they don’t pick new tricks up immediately, and sleeping on their own in a new bed is a major trick.
Sadly, there is no quick fix for crib transitions. The only way to acclimate them to their new space is through practice and perseverance.
You may feel like they’re never going to warm to their crib, but don’t let the resistance defeat you.
We were just about at our wit’s end when things finally started clicking; it can happen in an all-of-a-sudden way.
Out of nowhere, our little one started sleeping through the night in her crib (excluding sleep regression stages), so stay strong!
Tip 4 — Work On Your Lowering Technique
If your baby falls asleep in your arms, and you’re working on getting them used to their crib, be mindful of how you lower them down onto the mattress.
It’s likely set to a much lower level than the mattress of their previous safe sleeping space, which can often throw your technique off.
The trick is to lower them without letting their head tip backwards, as this triggers their falling reflex, waking them up, head scratching, or at least disturbing their cozy sleep.
Attempt to touch their lower body to the mattress first, then steadily recline them until their head gently meets the surface.
My partner and I were having trouble with this because the mattress was set so deeply in the crib, so we adjusted the crib mattress to the next level, and it made things way easier.
We refined our technique and, whaddaya know… our daughter stirred far less when sleeping in her crib.
Tip 5 — Start Small
It’s unfair to expect your baby to sleep in their crib for long periods of time right off the bat, especially if they’re not all that used to the space just yet.
In light of this, keep expectations low to begin with. Start trying to get them to sleep for about 15 to 20 minutes in there, after which, you can scoop them back into your arms for a classic, cozy contact nap.
This is the perfect foundation from which to grow your baby’s crib sleeping prowess. From 15 to 20 minutes, you can move up to 20 to 25 minutes, 25 to 30 minutes, 30 to 35 minutes… and so on.
The first nap our daughter took in her crib only lasted 15 minutes, but after a couple of weeks, she was up to a robust 40 minutes!
Frequently Asked Questions
Nothing Is Working — Why Won’t My Baby Sleep In Their Crib?
If you’ve exhausted all resources and your baby still refuses to go down in their crib, it might be time to contact a doctor as there’s clearly an underlying issue that’s causing discomfort — Reflux is a common cause of restlessness, but it could be any number of things.
How Long Will It Take My Baby To Acclimate To Their Crib?
There’s no one answer to this question, but if your child is anything like mine, you can expect at least a couple of weeks at the grindstone trying to acclimate them.
That said, I know people with children that took to their cribs like ducks to water. In short… it depends.
The crib move is a big one and likely the first major practical change in the schedule you’ve been refining since your baby was born.
But by following the tips discussed here today, all of which were suggested by a professional healthcare worker, your baby will start to enjoy their lovely crib.
We have also had the question if a crib is necessary to use for your baby, read our thoughts here.
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