When struggling through those sleepless nights, many moms wonder how to get newborn to sleep in crib.
First off, can a newborn sleep in a crib?
Whenever the parents are comfortable, you can transition baby and teach them how to sleep in a crib in their own room. Having a baby monitor is always a smart idea so you can hear what’s going on.
That being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby sleeping in a parent’s room for the first six months as it as been associated with a lower risk of SIDS.
Other studies have shown that room-sharing with your newborn have been linked to higher likelihood of unsafe sleep practices and shorter sleep stretches.
So where do you even start with transitioning how to get newborn to sleep in crib? We’ve got 12 proven methods to help!
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1 | Keep the Room Dark
Darkness is comforting for newborns. They just spent the majority of their life in darkness in the womb.
Lights can be overstimulating and keep baby awake so make the room as dark as possible for night sleep in the crib.
Also many newborns have their days and nights mixed up, so keeping it bright during the day and dark at night can help get them on the right schedule.
Read Expert Mom Advice: How to Deal with Sleep Deprivation
2 | Provide a Hug in the Crib
Your baby probably spends countless hours during the day being held or cuddled (either in someone’s arms or a swing/bouncy seat). No wonder they don’t like the empty, sparse feeling of a crib!
Continue the feeling of a warm embrace by investing in infant body support pillows or a Mattress Baby Pillow.
Many moms report their baby constantly moving while sleeping, causing them to startle themselves awake. Support pillows will prevent the excess movement and help them stay in dreamland.
3 | How to Get Newborn to Sleep in Crib – Be Nearby
Your presence nearby can help your baby feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
This is easy enough if you’re keeping the crib in your room. Having the crib next to your bed is a great place to start.
If you’ve been bedsharing, you could try setting up the crib next to your bed sidecar style. Here is a great tutorial on how to sidecar safely.
Even if you are putting baby in their own nursery, you can still use your presence to your advantage.
Pull up a chair and sit beside the crib while baby is falling asleep.
Or some parents opt to sleep in baby’s nursery for a few days to ease the transition. You can blow up a mattress or throw a sleeping bag on the floor.
4 | Warm the Crib
I have never tried this, but I’ve heard this advice many times from other moms. Your baby is all nice and warm snuggled next to you and the crib sheets are cold, making the transition from your arms more difficult.
Placing a heating pad or hot water bottle in the crib to warm it up first may help. BUT this method is not really recommended due to a couple important safety considerations.
If you choose to try, be extremely careful that you do not make the crib too hot. Babies are very sensitive to temperature and you could accidentally burn or overheat your little one.
Also, ALWAYS take the heating pad or water bottle out of the crib when you place your baby in it. Leaving these items in the crib with baby is incredibly dangerous.
Because of these safety issues, instead I recommend just using a jersey knit or flannel crib sheet in the winter which won’t feel as cool as other linens.
5 | Crank Up the Noise
Even if you’re already using white noise, you’re probably using it wrong (sorry!).
The womb is LOUD. Think vacuum cleaner volumes.
Chances are the machine or app you’re using isn’t turned up enough. Don’t be afraid to really turn up the sound to the max setting, even if you think it’s too loud. (Psst… Aurola makes a great white noise machine that we highly recommend)
Added bonus, when the white noise is turned up you don’t have to whisper and attempt to silently wash the dishes at night.
Read Why I didn’t let my baby Cry It Out… and you don’t have to either
Read Support for Sleep Training Mamas
6 | Lay Them Down Correctly
Placing your baby in the crib is in my opinion that biggest trick to how to get newborn to sleep without being held.
When placing baby in the crib, as they transfer from your arms try to keep them at an angle with their bottoms down and head slightly elevated. This is important if they’re awake, drowsy, or asleep.
Most parents angle the infants with their heads slightly down, making them feel unsettled and off-balance.
Additionally, try to lay them down as slowly as possible to avoid engaging their startle reflex.
7 | Swaddle
If you’ve asked anyone about getting your newborn to sleep, you’ve almost definitely been told to swaddle. This is common advice for good reason, most newborns love the cozy womb-like feel of being swaddled.
Swaddling is comforting for your baby and may help them feel secure in their big open crib. It also keeps their arms contained so they don’t constantly wake themselves with their startle reflex.
We love the SwaddleMe velcro swaddles because they make it so easy to get just tight enough and stay in place.
Many moms ask, “but is swaddling safe?” It’s important to note that babies should stop being swaddled when they consistently break free or start rolling over, usually around 3 – 4 months.
8 | Make the Crib Smell Like Mom
It is well documented that babies are able to recognize their mother’s smell. Your scent is comforting and soothing to your newborn.
Using your smell in baby’s crib to make the transition easier. Some moms suggested placing a t-shirt that I’d worn all day or my used pillow case in the crib. To avoid loose items in there though, I opt to use the crib sheets themselves.
Put the crib sheet in your bed for a night or two and sleep snuggled in it. When you put that sheet in babies crib, it will carry your scent and hopefully comfort your little one.
9 | List Up
Let’s face it, in the middle of the night you’re likely exhausted beyond belief. The last thing you can think about is all the different newborn soothing methods to settle them in their crib.
I highly recommend making a list of different soothing techniques in large print, printing it out, and hanging it beside the crib. On my list were things like:
– Jiggle mattress
– Pat bottom/belly
– Offer pacifier
When I was in those sleep-deprived states where my brain had stopped working, I could mindlessly turn to those list to give me ideas in the middle of the night. Without the list, I would have likely resolved to the ol’ reliable Rock n’ Play (which has now been recalled! Luckily we have articles on how to transition out of the Rock n’ Play and some comparable alternatives).
10 | Comfort Associations
It’s imperative that you create a comfortable atmosphere surrounding the crib. If they only think of it for sleeping/crying, they’re not going to be calm when you place them in it.
Place them in there to play, or even for an infant massage. Getting baby to nap in crib during the day is also a good idea to start with before you attempt overnight.
11 | Establish a Bedtime Routine
If you don’t have a bedtime routine yet, now is a good time to start one.
Life with a newborn can be crazy and a bedtime routine may not have even been on the radar especially if you’ve been dealing with fussy evening and sleepless nights.
Setting a solid and consistent routine to follow every night lets baby know that it is time to sleep. Plopping baby in a crib for the first time can be confusing for them. Having an established bedtime routine to perform first can help them figure out quickly that the crib is for sleep.
A routine does not have to be elaborate. You can keep is simple, like diaper, jammies, book, bed.
12 | For Older Babies – Use a Transitional Object
Let’s start by saying that newborns should not have any loose items in the crib with them so don’t try this until they are older.
A transitional object (also called a security or comfort object) is an item like a lovey, blanket, or stuffed animal that your baby finds comforting.
Pediatricians seem to vary on when to introduce a transitional object, but it appears to range from 6 – 12 months. Check with your pediatrician about introducing a transitional object to a baby under 1 year.
Also be cautious about object safety. Objects must not pose a risk or choking, strangulation, or asphyxiation.
Follow these tips and you’ll figure out how to get newborn to sleep in crib in no time! Also be sure to Follow The Moms At Odds on Facebook for funny mom stuff, debates, and access to the latest articles.