What do you do if your baby hates the crib?
I’ve recently gotten many questions from parents asking me HOW I get my newborn, Beckham, to sleep in his crib. I’ve been sharing our journey over on my Instagram account and have mentioned that our baby sleeps in the crib and has since the day he’s come home from the hospital.
It hasn’t been this easy with all of my babies. Our first, Theo, wouldn’t sleep in his crib at first. So I do know what it’s like to have a baby who hates the crib!
We ended up being the parents who drove their baby around to take a nap. It was exhausting and I knew it was something that COULD NOT happen when we found out we were expecting twins.
When we brought our twins, Josie and Margo, home from the hospital, I knew that things had to be different. I couldn’t sit there for an hour and rock them to sleep. I couldn’t drive around in a car to get them to sleep. And I really didn’t want to have to endure crying while sleep training TWO babies.
They were going to sleep in their cribs. And they were going to love them. No matter what it took, I was determined!
It worked really well for them and it’s working really well for Beckham! So if your baby hates the crib, I’ve got you covered on how to get them to sleep in it!
*Post contains affiliate links.
Why Put Your Newborn in the Crib
Many resources will tell you to keep your baby in your room for the first several months of their life.
I am not a medical professional, but I have told many medical professionals that my babies sleep in their own room, in a crib, and they have seen nothing wrong with it.
There are a few reasons why we choose to have our babies sleep in their own room.
Better Sleep for Baby
Babies can smell their mommy from across the room.
It will distract them from sleeping and make them want to nurse, even if they aren’t hungry.
Imagine if you woke up to the smell of bacon in your bedroom? I don’t know about you, but I’d for sure be tempted to get up and eat it.
Or cry for someone to bring it to me and feed it to me, because that’s what babies do!
If they are in their own room, they won’t be distracted by the delicious smell of milk.
Even if you try your best to be super quiet, you’re inevitably going to make some noise.
The noise might not necessarily be enough to wake your baby up, but they won’t be able to fall into as sound of sleep.
Babies also sleep better with white noise at a fairly high volume, and that’s not something that adults usually sleep with.
Better Sleep for Parents
My babies have all been incredibly noisy sleepers.
They grunt, groan, sputter, and even sound like they’re choking.
There were many times when Theo slept in our room that I jolted out of bed, sure that something was wrong with him, only to find him sleeping soundly and making ridiculous noises in his sleep.
Hearing the constant noises made me incredibly anxious and unable to sleep.
We had Theo in our room for about 3 weeks, Josie and Margo in our room for one night, and Beckham went to his crib straight away.
I’m not saying that sleeping in a crib in their own room is safer than sleeping in a bassinet in their parent’s bedroom.
However it can lead to unsafe sleep practices, such as co-sleeping in an unsafe manner.
While I personally can’t fathom co-sleeping, I know that many families do it safely and enjoy it. However, if you don’t PLAN to co-sleep and it’s just that your baby has been crying for hours so you fall asleep with them on your chest, that’s when it becomes a safety issue.
I’m not saying that coming from a place of judgement.
You’re not supposed to let a newborn baby cry, but they won’t sleep in their crib. Sometimes it seems as if there’s no other option.
This is why we start with the crib from day one.
No Crib Transition With an Older Baby
It’s sooooooo much easier to get a newborn baby used to a crib than to transition an older baby to a crib.
Older babies are no longer swaddled, so they don’t have that added sense of security.
They also aren’t as sleepy as newborns so they will have a harder time falling (and staying) asleep.
What to Do When Baby Hates the Crib
I mean, it’s a bit more complicated than this, but… just do it.
When Beckham came home from the hospital, we put him in his crib to sleep for nap and bedtime.
Here are the following things we did to help him learn to love his crib:
1) Baby Is Swaddled
I know that all babies are different but in my experience, a swaddle is necessary.
Theo seemed to hate the swaddle. He’d fight it, cry, and wiggle his little body around for a few minutes… and then fall into a sound sleep.
If we took him out of the swaddle, he wouldn’t cry and fidget, but he also wouldn’t fall asleep.
If your baby seems to hate the swaddle, experiment with a different swaddle. I strongly encourage you to press on and continue swaddling (until your baby can roll over).
Not only does the swaddle resemble life inside the womb by cuddling your baby up nice and snug, but it prevents your baby from startling themselves awake.
(Psst… All of those swaddles are great but if I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would be this one!)
2) Baby is on a Solid Schedule
Are you wondering how on earth you get your baby on a schedule?
Once you’ve read that post, continue with this post.
Newborns need very little awake time. Seriously. Within the first few weeks of life, they should be awake for a maximum of 30-50 minutes, including their feeding time.
They will pretty much wake up, eat, have a diaper change, and go back to sleep and repeat this every 3-ish hours.
Unsure how long your baby should be awake for? –> Finding Optimal Waketime Lengths
3) Establish a Good Sleep Routine
I know a lot of parents have a very intense bedtime routine to teach baby that it’s time to go to sleep.
I think that’s wonderful, but truth be told… I don’t have time for that!
Want to know what our sleep routine consists of? Baby gets rocked for one lullaby, baby gets swaddled, white noise gets turned on (this one is great and a really good price), blackout blinds are closed.
It is enough of a routine to signal that it’s time to sleep.
I’m definitely not knocking those more involved sleep routines if that’s what you want to do! This is just what works for our family.
4) Room Has a Good Sleep Environment
Ensure that your baby’s room is nice and dark (although a small bit of light peeking through during the day is fine!).
Make sure that the crib is free of any distractions (stuffed animals or mobiles that move or light up).
If there are any lights (say from the baby monitor) you might want to cover them up with electrical tape, depending on where they’re at.
And lastly, make sure that the room is a good temperature. Adults have trouble sleeping if they’re too hot or cold, and babies are no different!
More information on sleep environment–> Everything You Need to Know to Establish a Good Sleep Environment for Baby
5) Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s not going to be easy, especially if baby hates the crib at first. But if you stick with it, you will see results. I promise!
The first night that Beckham (baby number 4) was home from the hospital, I swear we picked him up and put him down about 5,000 times.
I had the fleeting thought “umm what do we do if he will NOT SLEEP IN HIS CRIB??” We had no bassinet; no co-sleeper; literally, no backup plan.
It took two hours that night of off and on sleep, us soothing him, and putting him back to bed. After two-hours, he fell fast asleep and hasn’t had too many problems with his crib since then.
If you’re starting with an older baby, you can let them cry for a few minutes (as long as you know they are fed, changed, etc.) before soothing them.
If you’re not comfortable letting your baby cry, you can read my post on 5 different types of sleep training methods to find a sleep training method that works for you.
Side note: as a newborn, he would typically sleep really well in his crib for half of his naps, and end up in his swing or being held for the other half. If he wouldn’t settle in his crib after quite some time, we’d do whatever it took to help him fall asleep.
Remember: an overtired baby will have a much harder time falling asleep.
The biggest goal for us was to have him in his crib overnight since we couldn’t supervise him in the swing or hold him the same way we could during the day.
6) Baby Can Fall Asleep Independently
Drowsy, yet awake. Repeat that. Drowsy, yet awake.
This is when you want to put your baby in the crib.
If they’re overtired? It won’t work.
If they’re under tired? It won’t work.
If they’re overstimulated, hot, cold, hungry, gassy, going through a sleep regression… it won’t work.
I remember reading somewhere (for the life of me I can’t remember, so I can’t give credit!) to watch your baby for sleepy cues.
These can include rubbing their eyes and yawning… at the first yawn, start getting them ready for their nap.
At the second yawn, they need to be ready to be in bed immediately or they will go from tired to overtired in .05 seconds.
7) Troubleshooting: Gas
If you follow all of these methods and are persistent, your baby will get used to the crib.
There are, of course, a multitude of reasons that will make your baby unsettled, and GAS is a huge one.
If your baby is kicking their legs up (we call it frogging because it reminds us of a little frog jumping around) then it is probably gas.
It is such a common problem with babies and something you want to address if you want any sort of success with your baby peacefully drifting off to sleep on their own.
I currently give it to Beckham right before I put him down in his crib if I’m sensing any sort of discomfort. He is such a chill, easy going baby, that it’s very obvious when he has gas pains.
There you have it! If your baby hates the crib, I hope these tips helps you, and just remember… getting your newborn to sleep can be challenging, but it is SO worth it.