If you’re having trouble getting baby to sleep in their bassinet or crib, look no further. There are a few reasons this happens, and it can be overcome.
I’ve known women who brought their car seat into the house and had baby sleep in it. For weeks.
*insert pain grimace emoji*
Others who were past the newborn phase and needed baby to sleep in their own sleeping space, but baby wasn’t having it.
Some babies are stronger willed than others, and some babies want more cuddles. Both can start to sleep in their own bassinet without a lot of drama, when you know the reason for their resistance.
Fast, simple, and free strategies to implement if baby can’t get to sleep, won’t *stay* asleep, or is unsettled in general.
Why won’t baby sleep in the bassinet?
I’m going to dive into the most common reason babies won’t sleep in their own bassinet or sleeping space, and then we’ll tackle them all individually throughout the post.
- Wants to nap on mom (contact napping)
- Always falls asleep in car or stroller (motion causes lighter sleep) so won’t go to sleep when put down in sleeping space
- Has a feed to sleep association then wakes up when put down into the crib because baby knows that’s not your arms
- Is used to co-sleeping and protest cries at being put down separately
- Loves social interaction and doesn’t want to miss out on what’s happening elsewhere
Now, let’s address each of these reasons on their own.
Baby won’t sleep in bassinet because they are used to contact napping
This essentially means that your baby won’t nap in the crib because they want touch to get to sleep. For some moms this is fine, they go with it, and eventually are ready to address it at some point down the road.
Other moms, for a variety of reasons, need baby to sleep in their crib.
You can wean from contact naps in a variety of ways:
- Create wind down and bedtime routines
- Make sure baby’s sleep environment is conducive to sleep (no bright lights, etc.)
- Wean from the association with sleeping touching you by choosing a settling method that jives with your (and baby’s) personality
- Prevent baby from falling asleep in your arms by putting the feeding at the beginning of the wind down routines, so they’re still awake when you put them in their crib
Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!Learn More
Baby won’t sleep in their crib because they need motion to fall asleep
Motion really is an easy way to get little ones to sleep.
And it works until it doesn’t.
To be fair, it doesn’t really help baby get into a deep sleep so it prevents the restorative sleep, but it does comfort them. And lull them into sleep. It is also not safe for napping or night sleep.
- Decide on a wean or cold turkey approach.
- If weaning, allow your baby to swing in the early awake phases, like right after a nap, so they can have some relaxing time without falling asleep.
- If going cold turkey, get rid of the swing completely (or put in the attic, garage, etc.) and comfort baby with another settling method of your choosing to get them to sleep. (I go into this in great detail in Sleep Little Lamb, linked below)
- After feeding, do tummy time or play with your baby, and then when it’s time to nap or go to bed, settle, then put in their own sleep space.
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Baby has a feed to sleep association and wakes up when I try to transfer to the crib
This is one of the most common sleep associations out there. And it can, if you’re not careful, lead to the dreaded overtired cycle.
Baby won’t sleep well and then you feed baby. Baby falls asleep at the breast so doesn’t nurse well. Then wakes up early from nap because of hunger. And on and on.
One of the main reasons that nursing prevents baby from sleeping well in the bassinet is because you are essentially “tricking” baby.
Baby is loving going to sleep in your arms. Then baby falls asleep. Then you put them down into your crib. And, then baby wakes up and is like THIS ISN’T WHERE I WENT TO SLEEP!
This type of bait and switch won’t work long term for baby.
- Wean from the feed to sleep association.
- Feed at the beginning of the cycle (eat, play, sleep) as opposed to reversing it.
- Keep baby awake during feeds.
- Put baby to sleep in the bassinet drowsy but still awake.
- Choose a settling method of your choice (I link Sleep Little Lamb and the Newborn Settling Guide above) and settle baby down to sleep in their bassinet, instead.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
Baby won’t sleep in the bassinet because he wants to co-sleep
This is similar to the other tips honestly. It’s all mostly the same. Wean from what you are doing and shift into the new thing you want. Aka, baby going to sleep in the bassinet.
Co-sleeping will likely require a gradual sleep training approach. Both for you and your baby. So to recap, let’s hit the high points again.
- Do not trick baby by allowing them to fall asleep in your bed and then move them while asleep. They’ll just wake right back up and cry when they realize they’re in a different room.
- You can put baby in a crib in your room so you can settle with voice.
- Get a side sleeping bassinet so you can make sure baby is in their own space, but still in your room.
- Don’t put baby for naps and night sleep in separate places which will cause confusion.
- Choose a settling method and use that to help baby settle into their bassinet for both naps and night sleep.
Baby doesn’t want to miss out on the fun
Some babies are super social.
This means that at a young age they are not interested in sleeping if someone nearby is there. Often moms think their baby has a sleep issue, but the issue is that you are there all up in baby’s space and then expect them to fall asleep.
- Create a super engaging wind down routine with lots of books and cuddles and fun to get that sociability need in.
- Put baby to sleep in their own space and give them some room.
- When baby protests the change, don’t do an approach that has you in and out of the room every few minutes or this can actually make a social baby MORE agitated.
- Give social babies quite a long time to wind down as any interaction can tend to wake them up.
- Choose a settling method that you go with nap and nighttime for baby.
Use my simple 4 step routine to help your little ones start sleeping better LIKE TODAY.
It doesn’t take weeks, mama.
Frequently asked questions…
Move your feeding up to the beginning of the routine and then put baby in their crib drowsy but awake. You can wean from contact napping and choose a settling method that will help you settle baby in a bassinet.
Often, we are tempted to make safe sleep shortcuts if baby won’t sleep well. This is one of those to not give up on. You can swaddle baby, settle them in their sleeping space on their back with a particular settling method, and then allow them to move around as they see fit.
- Wean from any feed to sleep association
- Feed at the beginning of the cycle (eat, play, sleep)
- Create a good sleep environment
- Start a wind down or sleep routine
- Choose a settling method
- Put your baby to sleep in their bassinet using the settling method of choice