Many infants seem to think that sleeping in a crib is a really lousy idea. Mom’s arms are so much cozier. And, of course, they are. Sometimes. But not around the clock; because then mom tends to become veeeery exhausted.
There are things you can do to help your baby feel safe and comfortable while sleeping in a crib. Just remember that you can’t change a baby’s routines in just a day. Babies are routine lovers and they also need their parents’ warmth to feel safe. Give it a week at least, while implementing the tips below.
How To Get Baby To Accept The Crib
Make the bed smaller
A newborn baby, with poor eyesight and used to the very warm narrow environment of the womb, will find the crib a super scary place! Make newborn your infant’s huge (in his or her view) bed smaller. Put rolled blankets or sheets in a circle, to make the perceived sleeping place as small as possible. (Just make sure they are rolled and secured so they can’t fall over your baby!)
Especially newborn babies also often seem to want to have something soft close to their heads to feel safe. A rolled small blanket or towel close to the top of their head can make a huge difference for them. Again, just make sure you don’t put anything in the bed that can fall over his or her face.
Smell of Mom or Dad
Roll up a shirt that you have worn, and put it close to your baby’s head as part of the small bed you’re making.
If the bed smells like mom (or dad), your baby is likely to feel safer.
Before putting your baby in bed, make sure the bed is not too cold. You can either put a warm (not hot) water bottle (or something similar) in the bed for a while before putting your baby down or, even better, use a sleep bag for your baby. With a sleep bag, your baby will enjoy more or less the same temperature all the time, helping him or her to stay comfortable.
Sleep bags (basically wearble blankets) are excellent in many ways, especially during the first months. As you may have noticed, especially breastfed babies often poop every time they eat in the beginning. This means you will have to change diapers at night from time to time.
With a sleep bag that opens easily for diaper change, you might be able to change diapers without making your baby wide awake, since he or she won’t get cold. I used a sleep bag that could be opened at the bottom without opening the zipper all the way up. It was great. My baby slept through diaper change, never woke up for being warm or cold, and I could relax because I knew my baby was safe compared to under a blanket. The sleep bag I used is this one from from Woolino. It is great quality and above all, it opens two ways – both from top and bottom, which I loved!
If you use a water bottle or bean bag, make sure the bed doesn’t become too warm and take it out before putting your baby in the crib.
If your baby is between newborn and a few months old, you can also consider swaddling him or her.
In the beginning, you can swaddle the whole body, but at six weeks old or so, your baby’s arms (or at least one of them) should be free. At this time, the baby might start using his or her hands for self-soothing or to communicate hunger by sucking the hand.
Don’t know how to swaddle a baby? For more detailed instructions (and video) on how to swaddle your baby, click here.
Put your baby to bed awake
Especially young babies can often be put to bed while still awake if full, happy and tired. This actually works great for many babies at around three weeks of age.
Simply put your baby down for crib sleeping, say good night and leave the room. You might be up for a surprise! This is much harder with older babies that are more aware of what’s going on. But you can always try!
Consider placing a musical mobile over the crib, for the baby to have something to look at and listen to.
Personally, I’m not fond of the cry-it-out method, especially not for young babies, so my advice is to not force this. If your baby starts crying, cuddle him or her first in the crib, but if that doesn’t help, let your child fall asleep (or almost fall asleep) in your arms. Then put him or her down.
Make it a new routine
Rome wasn’t built in one day and the same goes for changing a baby’s sleep routines. If you really want your baby to start sleeping in his crib, be persistent.
Implement all the tips above and always put your baby in his crib at least after he or she has fallen asleep in your arms. Every time. This way your baby will learn – fast or slowly, that this is the place to sleep.
If nothing works
If your baby still considers crib sleeping a poor idea after trying for a while, you have two choices; one is to use the stroller or a cradle – both are smaller than a crib and are usually more accepted by babies younger than 5-6 months old. After that it is often the opposite – for older babies, cradles and bassinettes are too narrow to allow the baby to move around freely and safely while asleep.
The other option is to consider co-sleeping. Many babies sleep a lot better together with their mom during their first months of living.
However, if you or your husband smoke, if the bed is very soft or if any of you have consumed alcohol, co-sleeping can be very dangerous for the baby.
One thing to remember is that while many newborn babies really only want to sleep in mom’s or dad’s arms, things usually get easier over time. If your baby refuses crib sleeping now, try again in a few weeks.
Now how do you survive until your baby sleeps better? Follow this link for some tips that don’t really help your infant sleep better, but you!
DO you have additional tips to share on getting a baby to accept the crib? Please share by leaving a comment below! 🙂