Being a parent requires a great deal of patience and if you are struggling to get your baby to sleep in a crib, just know you are not alone.
It is an inherent reflex for babies to resist as hard as they can whenever they are moved from the comforting arms of mommy or daddy to the stiff and somewhat unfamiliar crib, which is exactly why you will see your little one opening their eyes as soon as they land in a crib.
However, a research study proved that babies who sleep in a crib versus a bed (as well as a parent’s bed) sleep better and longer.1
So, what do you do? Well, don’t worry, I’ve been down this road six times… thankfully.
When I had my first baby, all my time was spent cradling from place to place because I couldn’t get them to sleep in a crib for more than a few minutes. Trust me, it was an exhausting period.
I’ll be sharing my opinions and advice on this matter through this comprehensive guide. It will help you establish healthy sleep habits2 for your baby by walking you through setting up sleep routines and drawing from my experience to assist with this transition.
Table of Contents
Transitioning a Baby to a Crib
I know it’s frustrating when all you want is for your little one to get some shut-eye in the crib while you rest or finish your work, but sadly, that’s not possible (at least for the first few months).
It’s common for newborns to cry when put in a crib for the first few times, often even more. For the past 9 months, they have been sleeping curled up in your womb’s warm and cozy surroundings. To expect them to sleep peacefully in a solid cold place, aka a crib, is unfair.
To get things started, you can “play with your baby in the crib for very short periods (like 10-20 minutes) or sing to them.” By doing so, your baby will learn that the crib can be a secure place. Make the crib a comfortable and interesting place to be by allowing your child to play and relax in the crib.
Sometimes, the cause of a baby crying is not a crib but some health issue; in that case, check if your baby has a fever or cold. It can also be something they ate. Newborn babies are unpredictable when it comes to sleep; they might be hungry or just too energetic sometimes.
How to Get Your Baby to Soundly Sleep in a Crib?
1. Setting a Comfy and Safe Crib
You want the baby to be secure in his crib, so safety is crucial. Make sure the mattress isn’t excessively firm and thin3, instead, choose one that’s made of breathable fabrics to prevent your baby from getting too warm. Also, check the screws periodically to make sure none are coming off or sticking out.
Use appropriately sized sheets that stay securely on the mattress to allow the baby to move and stretch. With just a bit of smart inspection and a few adjustments, the baby, and you, will be feeling good in no time. And then off to sleep at last!
2. A Bedtime Routine Is Everything
The benefits of having a bedtime routine aren’t just for the baby but for new moms as well. Let’s face it, we need it, too.
It’s not easy taking care of their tiny human — whose job is to sleep, cry, eat, and poop (a lot), and on a mission to discover every nook of the house during the day and then turn into a tiny adorable monster at night.
But, we need to remember that sleep is essential just as eating is to their growth.4
Crafting a bedtime routine for your little one is a fundamental step in ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep.
Here’s the scoop: you can kick things off with a touch of structure. Whether it’s immediately tucking your babe into the crib just before lights out or 10 to 15 little minutes of cuddles before smoothly transferring them, these first bedtime memories are about claiming the coziness. For the most part, it takes a newborn about 20 minutes before they’ll drift off to sleep in their crib. Sweet sleep!
3. Gradual Transitions, Mom
Indeed, the transition from sleeping in your arms to a crib is a challenging one. Can you develop a habit within 2-3 days? No, you can’t, right? So, how can you expect an infant to easily adapt to sleeping in a crib in just a few days?
Begin by allowing your baby to sleep in short stretches and let them gradually extend their sleep duration. Keep the crib safe and comfortable as your baby learns to sleep and move around. It’s important to consistently practice these strategies because regular practice will make this transition process smoother.
4. Day-Time Napping
Getting your little one to nap peacefully in their crib during the day can seem like trying to solve a puzzle. But don’t worry — we have the hacks to make it easy peasy!
First things first: a routine is crucial. Watch for those sweet sleepy cues like eye-rubbing or fussiness and that’s your cue. So create a calming pre-nap routine. Rock them gently to soothing music, sing a little lullaby, or read an adorably short story.
Next, set the mood. Make sure the room is super dark by pulling the curtains shut and that it’s not too hot, not too cold. You could be in store for a little genius nap hack: put the baby down when she’s just drowsy, not passed out. This helps her learn to self-soothe and be a strong, independent napper.
Hang in there and stay consistent. If they get up too soon, no problem! Just comfort them gently and try again. With a little time and effort, you’ll have a baby who’s a master of the day nap. And that’s going to lead to some cool, restful nights for you.
5. Sleep Training Tactics
Establishing a sleeping routine for your baby isn’t as simple as it may seem, as your baby might not readily embrace the idea of making the crib their new sleep sanctuary.
There are a couple of my favorite methods5 to consider: the Ferber and No-cry methods.
The Ferber method involves allowing babies to cry for a predetermined amount of time between parental visits. In contrast, the No-cry method encourages parents to respond promptly.
The challenge with the Ferber technique is that parents may not be able to see when their baby is in significant distress. On the other hand, the No-cry method may take a bit more time to successfully sleep-train the baby.6
I would not recommend using white noise machines or alternatives to create a calming environment for the baby. A recent study published by AAP found that using such machines over extended durations can cause damage to an infant’s hearing and auditory development.7
6. Dealing with Nighttime Wake-Ups
Babies are notorious for experiencing sudden wake-ups during the night. When they awaken at night, try not to rush to their rescue immediately, as this can disrupt their self-soothing process.8
Instead, aim to provide comfort from the crib so that they become accustomed to it. Maintain a calm ambiance in the room by using soft, dim lighting around your baby’s crib during the night, signaling that it’s time to sleep.
These practices will assist your baby in developing an independent sleep routine9, reducing the likelihood of nighttime wake-ups.
7. Addressing Common Challenges
When you try to put the baby in the crib, you might face another common challenge: they may start crying their eyes out immediately, or, even worse, for toddlers, they may stand up and sometimes even end up falling over.
In practical terms, separation anxiety means that a baby or toddler hates to be separated from Mom or Dad. “It’s a completely natural feeling for them to have some separation anxiety when they’re separated from their primary caregiver,” says Madelyn Swift, a pediatric sleep advisor.
In some cases, new parents have to accept that it will take time for their baby to become a more independent sleeper.
As for teething, babies may experience gum discomfort and overall discomfort. To soothe your little one, make the crib as comfortable as possible and provide teething toys and cold, damp washcloths.11
8. It’s All About Milestones
Helping your baby warm up to their crib is like riding the emotional rollercoaster of parenting as you and your little one practice the art of establishing a healthy sleep routine.
Your secret weapons? Consistency and acknowledging the little things.
Every time your baby takes a catnap or simply hangs out in the crib, cheer them on. Keep in mind that, just like with any new experience, every child approaches the crib-transitioning milestone at their own pace. It won’t be long until they’re rocking the art of crib parties.
FAQs on Getting a Baby to Sleep in the Crib
Why is it important for a baby to sleep in a crib?
Research says it promotes better and longer sleep, plus it’s a safe haven for those tiny tots.
How do I transition my baby to a crib from sleeping in my arms?
Start with short playtime in the crib and gradually increase crib time. Consistent practice will help your baby adapt.
What should I do if my baby experiences separation anxiety during sleep training?
Be patient, my friend, and give your baby time to become a pro sleeper. Consistency and reassuring cues will work their magic over time.
How can I address teething issues when my baby is in the crib?
Teething can be a pain, quite literally! Make the crib super cozy, and hand over some teething toys and cold washcloths to soothe discomfort.
How can I make the crib a fun and inviting place for my baby during the day?
Hey there, new parents! I totally get it – your mind might be stilll swirling with questions about getting your baby to sleep peacefully in their crib, right? Take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack – we’ve all been there!
Oh, and speaking of the crib, safety first, folks! You want your little bundle of joy to wake up in a cozy, secure environment, don’t you?
Now, when it comes to building a solid bedtime routine, consistency is your best bud. Trust me, your baby’s crib will become their little haven. They’ll grow to adore it, knowing it’s their safe spot for hours of play and, of course, some well-deserved shuteye.
With time, that crib will feel just like a second home to your baby – right after your loving arms, that is! 😊
References and Footnotes:
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945718305707 ↩︎
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/baby-sleep/art-20045014 ↩︎
- https://www.cpsc.gov/SafeSleep ↩︎
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440010/ ↩︎
- http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?pid=S0120-00112017000200203&script=sci_arttext ↩︎
- https://www.babycenter.com/baby/sleep/baby-sleep-training-no-tears-methods_1497581 ↩︎
- https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/133/4/677/32749/Infant-Sleep-Machines-and-Hazardous-Sound-Pressure ↩︎
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201415/ ↩︎
- https://doi.org/10.1111/jjns.12250 ↩︎
- https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01872.x ↩︎
- https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/how-to-soothe-a-teething-baby-at-night ↩︎