How To Get Your Baby To Sleep In A Crib
Learning how to get your baby to sleep in their crib is a tough transition for most parents. You and your little one may be used to sleeping together. Or your newborn may prefer sleeping in a swing or a car seat.
When they’re in those familiar environments, they fall asleep quickly and without fuss. But these are not long-term solutions for a safe, successful newborn sleep schedule. Eventually, it’s best for everyone involved if your baby sleeps in their crib.
In this article, we give you six tips about how to get your baby to sleep in a crib so you and your family can rest easy again.
Why Your Baby Doesn’t Want To Sleep In A Crib
When they’re born, your little one has already spent nine months in a warm, cozy environment. They’re used to the pressure, the warmth, and the motion that mommy’s body provided.
That’s why most newborns prefer to sleep in your arms, a rock n’ play, a car seat, or a stroller — those “places” mimic the conditions of the womb.
Your baby’s crib is, in many ways, the complete opposite of what they’re used to.
They spend most of their time being held, enjoying the warmth of your body, inhaling your smell, feeling you breathe, hearing your heartbeat, and being gently rocked back and forth. When you put them in a crib to sleep, you remove all of the sensory stimulation they rely on to feel secure.
Additionally, most crib mattresses are wrapped in non-breathable plastic that makes them hot and uncomfortable to sleep on.
Newton Baby’s mattresses are different. They’re designed to be comfortable and supportive while keeping your baby cool all night long. That means they’ll sleep soundly and wake up well-rested!
The Importance Of Sleeping In A Crib
When you think about it from your newborn’s perspective — the warmth, the movement, the comfort, the familiarity — you may start to wonder why it’s so important for them to eventually sleep on their own in a crib.
The reason for transitioning your little one to a crib is very simple: Co-sleeping, motion sleep, and semi-reclined sleep — the type provided by swings, strollers, and car seats — is not safe!
With these other sleeping options, there’s always the risk of accidents happening that can cause your baby to stop breathing.
But in a crib with the right mattress, there’s no risk that your newborn will roll themselves over and accidentally restrict their airflow. (You can rest easy knowing there’s nothing to worry about when you lay your baby down to sleep on a Newton Baby mattress!)
Sleeping in a crib also provides your little one with the deepest, highest quality sleep possible.
On a very deep level, your baby’s brain may register that they’re not completely stable and “safe” (in terms of falling) in other sleeping arrangements, so they won’t experience the deep, stage-three sleep their body needs to function properly.
This automatic, unconscious safety feature of the human body is best illustrated by thinking about how well you, as an adult, sleep when you’re semi-reclined (like in an airplane seat).
You may be able to doze or even slide into a fitful sleep for twenty minutes, but you’re not going to reach the later stages of sleep to feel refreshed when you wake. Your baby experiences the same thing.
The best sleep comes from lying in a horizontal position on a stable, supportive mattress. It’s this basic human need to sleep horizontally on a stable surface that makes transitioning to a crib so important for your baby.
When To Start Transitioning To The Crib
It’s best to start thinking about how to get your baby to sleep in a crib — and then taking steps to get there — during the first six months of their life. After six months, your little one will be set in their ways and it may be difficult to get them to change.
Once you’ve decided to make the switch from your baby’s current sleep environment to a crib, the question then becomes how to make the transition easier.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep In A Crib
1) Furnish Your Nursery With The Right Crib Set
A crib set is a bundle of items that provides everything your little one needs to sleep well right from day one. Most crib sets come with extras like blankets, top sheets, pillows, bumpers, and dust ruffles.
For your little one’s safety, do not put extra bedding in their crib until they are much older (usually around 18 months).
The best crib furnishings — like those from Newton Baby — include a correctly sized, hypoallergenic, breathable mattress and an organic muslin cotton fitted crib sheet.
Newton Baby’s mattresses are made with Wovenaire® and Breathe-Thru technologies for 100 percent breathability, comfort, washability, and safety. That’s peace of mind you can’t get anywhere else.
2) Create A Consistent Bedtime Routine
When you begin transitioning your baby into a crib, set up a bedtime routine that works for you and your baby.
Your routine may include:
- Bath time
- Read a story
The important part of this routine is not what you include but, rather, that you’re consistent. Consistency means that, for example, you bathe your little one, read them a story, and cuddle for a few minutes in that order every night.
Once you’ve established the routine and run through it for several days, your baby will expect you to put them down in their crib during the final step.
3) Make Your Baby Feel Safe In The Crib
Baby’s like to be held and kept warm throughout the night. But, as we mentioned above, you should never include extra items in your newborn’s crib. Just a correctly sized, breathable mattress and a fitted sheet.
So how can you mimic the feeling of safety your baby gets when you hold them? Wrap them in a swaddle or a sleep sack!
Newton Baby offers an organic swaddle blanket that will keep your newborn warm, cozy, and comfy throughout the night and help them sleep in an empty crib.
For more information about swaddling your baby, check out this article: How To Swaddle A Baby: The Complete Guide For Parents.
4) Wake Your Baby As You Put Them In The Crib
This may seem counterintuitive since you just worked so hard to get your little one to sleep in the first place! But waking your baby slightly as you put them down can actually make it easier for them to switch to sleeping in a crib.
The natural action of jostling and placing your baby in the crib may be enough to do this. Over several nights, this will teach your newborn an important lesson: when they find themselves half-awake in their crib, it’s safe to go back to sleep!
At first, they may whimper or cry. If they do, pat them or pick them up and generally reassure them that they’re safe.
In time, your baby will learn to close their eyes and go back to sleep when you put them down in their crib. That’s a victory for you and your baby!
5) Break The Connection Between Feeding And Sleep
In step two of this list — Set Up A Consistent Bedtime Routine — we put feeding first. That wasn’t an accident. When transitioning your baby to sleeping in a crib, you want to break the connection between feeding and sleep.
Feed them first, run through the rest of your sleepy-time routine, then put them down for a good night’s sleep in their crib.
Putting your baby to bed in this way will eventually mean that no one needs to be in the room for your little one to fall asleep — and stay asleep!
6) Help Your Little One Accept Stillness
By the time you’re ready for your baby to sleep in a crib, they’ll probably be used to falling asleep while rocking. That’s OK! You’ll just need to help your little one accept stillness as a prelude to sleep.
The easiest way to do this is to:
- Begin rocking them to sleep
- Before they fall asleep, stop rocking
- If they wake up and protest, start rocking again
- Repeat as necessary
With practice and repetition, your newborn will eventually fall asleep even when you — or they — aren’t moving. This prepares them for the stability and stillness of the crib mattress.
7) Transition To Touching Instead Of Holding
When you first begin laying your baby down in their crib, they’ll protest. They may wake up. They may cry.
Your instinct will be to pick them up and rock them back to sleep. That’s completely fine! But continue to add in a period of stillness just before they fall asleep.
Then, when you put them down and they begin to protest, rest your hand gently on their chest or belly to provide reassurance that you’re still there.
Eventually, your baby will accept this touch as the new routine — instead of being rocked — and will learn to sleep without the other familiar feelings.
Once you’ve gotten your little one used to falling asleep like this, you can begin to decrease the pressure of your hand and remove it from their body sooner. This will further train them to fall asleep — and stay that way — without you or your partner being present.
A Good Night’s Sleep For All
When you successfully transition your baby to sleeping in a crib — complete with a Newton Baby breathable mattress, organic muslin cotton fitted sheet, and organic swaddle — you and your family will get a deep, restful night’s sleep and be ready to enjoy the new day!
For more information on helping your baby sleep through the night and to check out our crib mattresses, sheets, pads, and swaddles, visit NewtonBaby.com today!