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.
Key Points of Getting a Baby to Sleep in a Crib
- Comfortable babies are sleepy babies. Make sure their bellies are full, their room is quiet, and they are already drowsy but not quite asleep.
- Keep their sleeping environment simple and recognizable. No matter the age, falling asleep in one place and waking up in another is always a jarring experience.
- It may take a few times to get your baby soundly asleep in their crib. Don't feel discouraged if it takes a few tries.
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 your 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 green light to transfer them to the crib.
Chances are high that for the first few months, your baby will need an extra feeding during the night shortening your sleep. Having a solid way to feed them again quickly is going to help both them and you return to blissful sleep quickly.
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. However, be careful with anything heavily scented as this may throw your baby off or irritate their nose/skin. Always consult with your doctor before using anything with a heavy scent.
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.
An added benefit of this practice is more sleep for you. There's nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night than you already have to. Your sleep and your baby will thank you for taking this one preventive step.
4. Find the Perfect Temperature
One important step in helping your baby 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. If you are unsure how to dress your baby by the season, check out this handy guide.
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, but 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.
If sound machines are exactly your baby's cup of tea, and you live in a peaceful and warm area you could use the natural sounds of your neighborhood by cracking open a window. ONLY do this if it is warm out, the window is screened for bugs, and the sounds are something pleasant like ocean waves or gentle crickets for example.
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 your 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!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ruslan Galiullin/Shutterstock.com.