The joy and anticipation you feel at the prospect of being a parent is almost equal to the anxiety and gripping fear that engulfs you when the little one arrives. Not to scare you or burst your bubble but there is more to babies than matching mommy/daddy and baby outfits. Top on the list of priorities is the almighty “how to get the baby to sleep in the crib” question.
While there are many resources about how to get the baby to sleep in their crib most overlook some of the most basic things including a comfortable space and addressing baby and the parents’ fears. Figuring out how to get the baby to sleep in the crib is not as hard as you may think but you must get the basics right to get it right overall.
Addressing the Elephant in the Room
The argument for and against babies sharing the parent’s bed cannot be overlooked because it is an ongoing conversation with two very divergent views: co-sleeping or crib sleeping. Each side has high authority findings backing its viewpoint but trends are starting to shift in favor of co-sleeping. This, however, does not diminish the important step of learning how to get the baby to sleep in the crib, especially because the baby has to leave the parent’s bed at some point.
Cultures worldwide have age-old traditions that encourage parents to sleep with their babies on the same bed. In Japan, the tradition is referred to as “kawa no ji” and is denoted by three lines in Kanji (Japanese alphabet). In Africa, babies are an extension of the parents and they inform the parents, through their developmental milestones, when they are ready for the next step, not vice versa. Sleeping with the baby in African cultures is considered the natural and better-liked option.
These cultures make an excellent case for co-sleeping with your baby. This is because the question of how to get the baby to sleep in the crib does not really arise in their societies. Instead, they learn how to make co-sleeping with baby work.
Is co-sleeping with baby dangerous?
While studies show that co-sleeping can be dangerous for the baby there is also evidence that makes it clear that it becomes dangerous under certain circumstances:
- When you co-sleep with the baby on a sofa or recliner
- You consume alcohol and co-sleep with the baby
- If a smoker co-sleeps with baby
- You are on any sleep-inducing medication (even antihistamines)
According to research by UNICEF co-sleeping in the absence of the above hazards holds little actual danger of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) for the baby. They recommend that medical professionals give a holistic approach about co-sleeping to parents so that they can be informed about how to be close and responsive to the baby without being a hazard.
However, co-sleeping is not for everyone. Proponents for crib sleeping consider sleeping with the baby to be hazardous. They have the backing of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). After all, your bed has pillows and the surface may be too soft and cause the baby to suffocate. All of these are real concerns.
Whether you have a co-sleeping or crib sleeping baby, moms and dads worldwide can attest to needing uninterrupted sleep and for co-sleeping parents, their bed back. And that’s where the crib comes in. A crib gives your child independence from you and helps them establish their own sleep pattern.
Why Babies Do Not Like to Sleep in Cribs
The primary reason babies do not like cribs is that they miss the security of the parents’ presence. A crib is not as warm as nestling in your arms. Babies thrive on close contact and anything that separates them from contact with you will be met with resistance.
Another reason is that parents use the crib as a time-out place for baby when they are not cooperating or when they themselves need a time-out. Baby grows to associate the crib with separation from the parent when they need them the most. It’s no surprise sleeping there becomes unbearable for baby.
Finally, your baby is not used to the crib and finds it frightening, that’s why they can’t settle down in it. The strange environment coupled with the cold crib and the fact that they do not know how to self-soothe and adapt makes the crib uncomfortable and sinister in their eyes.
It is important to note that in all the above reasons the crib was not the culprit rather the environment, the associations and the separation. But that still leaves the question of how to get the baby to sleep in the crib especially if you have to battle all the above. It begins with the set up of the sleeping arrangements.
Basic Set Up of Baby’s Room
The baby’s room in this context refers to an actual separate room for the baby or the parent’s room where baby’s crib is. To ensure baby is comfortable the following basics must be incorporated into their sleep environment.
Set up a nursing station
A nursing station in baby’s room helps baby associate feeding times with their bedroom. Nursing is a bonding time and the things around your baby at the time of feeding become familiar and comfortable. We recommend keeping the nursing station close to the crib so that after nursing the next stop is a lie down in the crib. Soon this will become a routine and the crib becomes more and more familiar and an acceptable conclusion to feeding time.
Dim the lights
Dim lights make the room softer and cozier. You can use a dimmer to dim the default hard-core lights that come with a house. Alternatively, use side lamps that produce a warm glow. Using such lights ensures the baby does not completely wake up during the late night feeding sessions and they can fall back asleep easily. Any light can be transformed into a nightlight either by using night bulbs instead of regular bulbs.
Buy correct furniture
Consider the people who will use the baby’s room: baby, parents and perhaps the babysitter. Furnish the room with only essential furniture that is geared toward caring for your baby. Essential furniture for the baby’s room apart from the crib is basically the changing table, a chest of drawers, and a nursing chair or sofa.
Do not scrimp on the furniture. Purchase quality pieces because you will be using this furniture for a long time.
Have adequate storage
You wouldn’t like to sleep in a cluttered room so why should your baby? Have enough storage for the essentials like wipes, burp cloths, diapers, and bed linen within reach. Keep extra toys away so that they are not a distraction to your baby. They definitely should not be in the crib. If your baby’s room is a corner in your bedroom keep the entire bedroom well organized. A basic set up of the crib, the changing station, and nursing stations close to each other. This is essential for your convenience so you do not have to keep moving around a lot.
6 Tips on How to Get the Baby to Sleep in the Crib
For every parent there comes a point when you are consumed with how to get the baby to sleep in the crib. You can stop imagining a bleak future with a 10-year-old still in your bed. These tips have been tried, tested, and proven to work.
Swaddling the baby limits their movement and helps with continuous sleep which parents want to encourage. Babies startle themselves awake with their random movements when not swaddled especially in the early months of life. The swaddle works so well when transitioning a baby to the crib because it feels like a warm embrace. As a result, baby fusses less. You can buy a swaddle blanket or create one using the baby’s blanket. Always use a light-weight blanket preferably one that is a bit stretchy. Here is how to make a swaddle:
- Spread the blanket on a flat surface (should be at least 120 x 100 cm)
- Take one corner and fold it until it almost reaches the halfway mark of the blanket
- Place baby on the blanket with the neck on the top fold
- Fold baby’s first arm so that the hand rests on the chest or stomach
- Bring the side of the blanket that lies on the first arm towards the center and wrap it around baby tucking it in the back
- Repeat the folding of the arm with the second arm and bring the end of the blanket on that side
- Wrap it also around the chest and tuck in the back
- Bring the bottom part of the blanket up and tuck it into one shoulder leaving wiggle room for the feet
- Finish the tucks in the back for the left and right sides of the blanket. Leave comfortable breathing room for baby
- Do not use pins to secure the tucks in the back
Regulate the temperature
Always make sure that baby’s room is not too cold or too hot. This is especially important if your baby has the crib in your room. What is comfortable for you may not be good for your baby. The ideal temperature should be between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have a routine
When new parents ask inquire about how to get the baby to sleep in the crib the first thing they are asked is about the night time routine. Babies routines do not just start at nighttime or in the evening. They are built up throughout the day culminating in a drowsy baby who is happy to fall asleep and stay sleeping.
Having a nap schedule helps baby not to oversleep and parents not to curtail daytime naps too much. Use the schedule to ensures baby rests just enough during the day but not too much to sleep poorly at night. Using the schedule creates a routine that your baby becomes accustomed to and makes the progression to natural sleeping at night easy and healthy. Babies begin to understand the progression of a routine by the time they are six-eight weeks old.
Also, establish a nighttime routine just before bed. Giving baby a bath or wipe and massaging them with a soothing oil helps wind down the day for them. Change your baby’s diaper and get them into a sleeper. During this period you can talk soothingly, hum or sing a lullaby to your baby. Finish the routine with a feed so that they are full and ready to fall asleep.
Put the baby down while still awake
You will thank yourself for this once you make it a habit. This tip is imperative for baby becoming an independent sleeper. For your baby to ultimately sleep on their own put them down when they are drowsy but not asleep yet. This way baby self-soothes their way to sleep and begins to break the sleep association to you. If you get this right you will have nailed how to get baby to sleep in the crib.
Learn how to spot the drowsy signs including rubbing the eyes, fussing and, yawning. This is important as you begin to learn how to get the baby to sleep in the crib. If you miss the signs you end up with an exhausted, fussy baby.
In an ideal world, your baby would feel drowsy and nod off easily when placed in the crib. Unfortunately, most babies sense the separation the minute you begin to lower them into the crib and wake up. This part of getting your baby to settle down in a crib needs a lot of patience and tea.
Infuse mom’s/dad’s presence in the room
Get your baby to sleep by making mom’s or dad’s presence known. Babies sense separation because they know the scent, touch, and sound of their parent. For mom, it is the smell of milk, the feel of your skin, and the sound of your voice. For dad, it is the sound of your voice and feel of your skin. When putting your baby down into the crib infuse your scent on the swaddling blanket or even their pajamas.
You can do this by holding the items close as you go about your other chores. This lessens the separation anxiety because your scent signifies your presence. Your presence makes a big difference when figuring out how to get the baby to sleep in the crib.
This is a wonderful way to get baby to sleep. It is monotonous but not loud and the monotony is what makes it soothing to babies. White noise mimics the monotony of amniotic fluid which was very calming for the baby while in the womb. When asked how to get the baby to sleep in the crib most parents who have used this method swear by it.
Stick With It
It is a gradual process to get baby to sleep through the night in their crib. However, you will begin to experience small victories here and there as they become independent of you.
How to get the baby to sleep in the crib is a question that every parent will encounter whenever they are ready to let the baby sleep alone. Even cultures that co-sleep will have to wean the baby off the parent’s bed at some point. Using the above information you will find yourself and your baby heading to different rooms or beds at the end of the day. Most importantly, do not rush the process otherwise you will become frustrated with your little bundle of joy. And who knows, maybe they are just as frustrated with you too!!
Ultimately you will learn how to get baby to sleep in the crib and enjoy other milestones ahead of you.