Q&A: How do I get my baby to sleep in her crib?
My baby will not sleep in her crib at all. She wakes up and cries until I pick her up. How do I get her to sleep in her crib? She is almost 3 months and I don't know what to do. The funny thing is she will sleep fine in her bassinet.
It’s not uncommon for a baby to cry in protest at the thought of being laid down to sleep in her own crib, especially if this is not where she’s accustomed to sleeping. That said, I commend you for making the effort to help her learn to fall asleep in her crib, as we know that the safest place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, well-fitting crib mattress in an unadorned, safe crib. I use the word “learn” because I’ve found that as much as we all tend to think of sleep as an ability we’re born with, some babies need a bit of help learning to do so effectively and independently.
In many instances, a baby’s seeming rejection of the crib is actually the result of having become accustomed to being held, fed, or rocked to sleep. The reason this can pose a significant sleep challenge isn’t just in getting a baby to fall asleep, but because it tends to result in the baby waking up and requiring the same holding, feeding, or rocking each time she reaches a period of light sleep throughout the night.
While this common scenario certainly sounds like what you might be experiencing with your daughter, fortunately, you’re asking the question at a very good age. Babies typically become capable of falling asleep independently between 2 and 4 months of age. In order to teach and encourage babies to do so, I recommend implementing what I refer to as the 4 B’s of bedtime: breast or bottle, bath, books, and then bedtime (a term I use to round out the 4 B’s, but which really should be crib-time!). The order is important, because by giving a bath after the last feeding of the day, it’s possible to make sure babies are fully awake after eating and aren’t becoming accustomed to drinking themselves to sleep. While the bath isn’t absolutely necessary, it can be an enjoyable way to separate drinking from sleeping. Adding books at the end of the routine is a great way to establish an enjoyable lifelong, healthy bedtime routine that signals to a baby that it’s time to sleep. While I absolutely encourage parents to hold their babies while enjoying reading time together, I also suggest laying babies down to sleep—on their backs and in their cribs—well before they actually fall asleep. If your daughter needs help making this adjustment to her bedtime routine, simply consider laying her down and then continuing to read (or sing, if you like) to her to help her settle in for a good night’s sleep.