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As a sleep-deprived parent of a newborn you’re probably ready to sleep just about anywhere, so it can be quite puzzling that it’s so dang difficult getting baby to sleep in crib. Chances are, your baby prefers to get most of her sleep nestled in your comforting arms. However, there’s a reason you spent so much time selecting the perfect crib for your baby’s room and you and your baby can both benefit from him getting a deeper, safer night’s sleep in it.
Many moms suffer from their baby doing more screaming than snoozing in their crib, but don’t give up. The sooner you can start creating good habits for your baby, the better. Studies have shown that babies get less sleep and wake up more often if they sleep anywhere but their crib. Whether you’re driving them around for 45 minutes in the car or pushing them in the stroller to lull them to sleep, they will always get a better rest in their own crib. In general, once your baby has hit the 6-month mark, their sleeping habits – both naptime and nighttime- become much harder to change. If your baby is older, rest assured it’s not too late to ease him into the crib. It just may take a little more time and patience. The following are a few scenarios and how to help your baby (and you!) get their healthy and safe rest.
The Only Place Your Baby Sleeps Is In Your Arms
While there’s nothing quite like having a sweet little baby sleep soundly in your arms, when it’s the only place your little one will sleep, it can be difficult to do anything else (i.e. get sleep yourself, eat, do housework, go to the bathroom, etc!). Research shows that a baby knows when they are being held by a parent or someone else. Your sweet pea knows your smell and the way you feel, and allowing your baby to fall asleep in your arms can be just too cozy to resist.
The solution to get your baby to sleep in the crib is to make the crib feel more like you. One of the reasons your baby screams when he transitions from your arms to the crib is the change of temperature. The move from the heat of your nice warm arms to the cool crib sheet, can be startling. And, as you know, you should never place a blanket in the crib because of the risk of suffocation, but you can keep her warm with a swaddle. If your baby is less than 3 months old, feed him in the swaddle and then transition slowly into the crib. The swaddle will be warm like your arms, have your smell, and will keep her contained as you gently place her in the crib. If your baby is beyond a swaddle, try a sleep slack. If that still doesn’t work, soothe your little one by keeping your hand on her tummy for a few minutes. Although it is tempting, avoid picking her up, gentle massage her tummy until she falls back asleep.
Baby Only Wants to Sleep in Swing or Car Seat
The calming motion of the car or swing can quickly lull a baby to sleep. The movement is quite similar to what he was feeling in your belly, so it’s no wonder if your baby only wants to sleep with gentle movement.
You can get your baby to sleep in his crib by slowly breaking this habit. You can start by eliminating motion. Try putting your baby in the stroller but don’t move it. Place him in the swing, but don’t swing it. When your baby gets used to that, place him in the crib when he’s pulling on his ears and rubbing his eyes. He will soon associate being sleepy with his crib and learn to soothe himself to sleep. Keep in mind, each step will take at least four or five days. This is a slow process, but staying consistent and keeping on a schedule will make the transition easier for both of you.
A bedtime routine is extremely important, and while it may seem like your baby will never sleep in his crib, once you establish a routine and stick to it, you will see a change. The key is to stick with it to avoid confusing your little one. You may also want to try a white noise machine and/or projector. Be sure to put your baby to bed at the same time each night and for naptime. Don’t give up, your baby will be used to her crib before you know it!