Getting your baby to sleep in their crib for the first time can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With a few tips and tricks, your little one will drift off to sleep in no time. Here's how to get your baby to sleep in a crib in nine simple steps.
1. Feed Them First
A satisfied belly makes a happy baby — and it will make it easier for them to go to sleep anywhere, including in their crib. Make sure you feed you baby before it's time to sleep. Depending on their age, you'll want to have a little bit of a buffer between feeding and bedtime so they have adequate time to get the gas out and have a settled stomach. Once they've burped and appear calm and comfortable, that's your greenlight to transfer them to the crib.
2. Put Them Down Drowsy
One of the best things a parent can do when trying to get their baby to sleep in the crib is to put them down when they're drowsy but not yet asleep. There is a sweet spot where Baby is so close to being asleep but not completely there. THAT is the magic you want to harness! They become familiar with the surroundings while they're still somewhat awake versus being put in the crib and waking up in the night wondering where they are.
Spend the hour or so before bedtime getting them relaxed. Bathtime, a nice massage with some lavender-scented baby lotion and a feeding session are often the trifecta to take your baby to that sweet spot. Put them down, whisper your good nights, and let them drift off. As with all-things-parenting, it may take a few tries before everyone gets the hang of it. But be patient, and once your baby gets the hang of being put down while drowsy and drifting off on their own, everyone will enjoy a more relaxing evening.
3. Put Them Down Dry
A clean diaper before bedtime or nap is a must! A dirty diaper is uncomfortable anytime, but can you imagine trying to sleep in one? Additionally, if your little one sleeps in a wet or soiled diaper, it significantly increases their chances of getting a nasty and even more uncomfortable diaper rash. Make sure your little one is set up to succeed at sleeping in their crib with a clean, dry diaper.
4. Find the Perfect Temperature
One important step in helping your baby to sleep in the crib is to ensure the temperature is comfortable. The ideal temperature for the nursery is 68°F to 72°F. If you prefer it on the cooler side, then consider putting your baby in a footed sleeper — add a swaddle if they enjoy that. If Baby is hot-natured, perhaps a onesie and a swaddle will be enough.
As you get to know your little one, you'll quickly learn their natural preferences for indoor temperatures. You can adapt accordingly with layers, a tight swaddle or simply by adjusting the thermostat.
5. Keep the Crib Simple
A scaled-back crib is ideal for several reasons, the first and foremost being safety. But in addition to keeping choking and suffocation hazards like blankets and bumpers out of the crib, a simple setting with few distractions will be just that — less distracting.
A mobile can be handy in keeping your little one entranced as they drift off, but skip things like stuffed animals and toys as they will be entertaining — not exactly what you're looking for to help your baby get to sleep!
6. Use a Sound Machine
Sometimes silence can be deafening — and distracting. When you can hear every little thing, it can be difficult to go to sleep. Add a sound machine to the nursery to offer a bit of background noise. Opt for one that has white noise settings as well as additional options like nature sounds — waterfalls, crickets and the like. Not only will this offer some soothing sounds, it will also get your baby comfortable with going to sleep with a bit of noise, which can be a good thing for noisy households.
7. Add a Mobile
One of the best ways to help your baby drift off to sleep is to give them something to look at. You can hang a mobile over their crib, which gives them something to focus on when they wind down for the night. The mobile not only provides a distraction, but offers a somewhat mesmerizing appeal that can be the secret to a good night’s sleep.
8. Try, Try Again
If at first you don't succeed at getting your baby to sleep in a crib, don't worry. You'll get there. It just may take a few tries. If you put Baby down, and they aren't thrilled about being in the crib, you'll need to determine the best avenue for your parenting style. While many parents go the cry-it-out route, that may not work for everyone. If it feels like you need a do-over, then do just that. Start over from a point that returns Baby to a comfortable point, and then try the crib again.
As any parent will tell you, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to babies. Follow your instinct and know that all parents are works in progress. You're doing great!