Many parents struggle with how to get their newborn to sleep in a bassinet. They try different tactics, but nothing works, and the disturbed schedule doesn’t benefit anyone. If this sounds too familiar, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss how to get a newborn to sleep in bassinet while adhering to safe sleep guidelines.
Why Won’t a Baby Sleep in a Bassinet? – The Reasons
Before introducing the potential solutions for getting your little one to fall asleep and stay asleep in a bassinet, we need to discuss why the problem may arise in the first place. There are numerous reasons a newborn won’t sleep in their bassinet at night, from body heat to irregular sleep patterns.
The Baby Is Used to Sleeping in Your Arms
Your arms may be the most comforting place for your newborn baby. However, your baby’s sleeping habits are just forming. Holding a sleeping baby might be a great feeling, but if your little one often sleeps in your arms, they may have a hard time falling asleep without you holding them.
This is why many experts recommend getting newborn babies used to sleeping without being held. Place your little one in a bassinet or a crib for both daytime naps and nighttime sleeping. If the baby won’t sleep in their bassinet, you can adjust the sleeping routine and ensure your baby isn’t hungry, overstimulated, or uncomfortable.
How long can a baby sleep in a bassinet? The answer depends on the bassinet and your child’s development, but it’s usually suitable for the first six months. Nowadays, you have numerous bassinet options, including smart bassinets and luxury bassinets that offer convenient features. When your child outgrows the bassinet, consider the bassinet vs. crib, bassinet vs. pack n play, and bassinet vs. mini crib differences to decide what’s best.
Since newborns can’t speak, they can’t articulate whether they’re hot or cold. Until 12 months of age, babies can’t regulate their temperature. Therefore, you need to learn to read your child. Check if they seem too hot or too cold, and adjust room temperature accordingly.
Your Baby Is Sick
If your little one has been sleeping in the bassinet just fine and the problem is a recent development, it might be due to illness. A child’s sleep schedule could shift due to a stuffy nose, cough, fever, or other symptoms. Moreover, many newborns experience gas and tummy problems, which could also prevent them from falling asleep.
Your Baby Doesn’t Know if It’s Day or Night
Small children can’t distinguish between daytime and nighttime. You can probably see how this can lead to sleepless nights. Fortunately, you can help your baby learn this difference by introducing bedtime routines and tracking sleep cycles. Remember to stick to the same routine if you want to see results.
A baby’s startle reflex is the involuntary response babies make when they hear unexpected noises. In response to the noise, they throw back their heads and extend their arms or legs. They also start crying and then pull their arms and legs back in.
This reflex is often considered one of the biggest obstacles to sound sleep. You can help your baby by reducing outside triggers and creating a safe sleep space. Do your best to create a quiet environment while your little one is in a light sleep phase.
Your Baby Is Overstimulated
Too much stimulation or activity before bedtime may be the reason your baby won’t sleep. An overly-stimulated baby is a fussy baby that will resist sleep training.
Under or Overtired Newborn Baby
Babies sleep a lot. But, they need optimal periods of wakefulness to feel tired enough to fall asleep. As you may have realized by now, determining this time can be tricky. You could end up with an under or overtired baby that can’t fall asleep no matter what you do.
Your Baby Is Uncomfortable
Loose blankets and uncomfortable clothing can affect anyone’s sleep. But, the difference is that we can do something about it, while babies can’t. Their discomfort could be related to a dirty diaper or too many layers of clothing,
Unsuitable Sleep Environment
Bright light and loud sounds can prevent your child from sleeping peacefully. Plus, certain items like sleep positioners, crib bumpers, and stuffed animals can even impose a safety hazard. Since keeping your baby safe and well-rested is a priority, ensure the baby’s bassinet is suitable and free of loose items.
Your Baby Is Hungry
Hungry newborns have trouble settling. Hunger could also be one of the reasons a baby wakes up when put in their bassinet.
Many experts stress the importance of developing healthy sleeping routines from the moment you bring your newborn home. Why? If your little one gets used to sleeping on you
r or next to you, they will have a hard time suddenly transitioning from being close to your warm, soothing body to a cold, flat surface in a bassinet.
How to Get a Baby to Sleep in a Bassinet – The Solutions
There are numerous actions you can take to help your baby go to sleep faster and develop good sleep habits:
Adjust Room Temperature
Proper room temperature is vital for allowing your baby to sleep. It’s best to keep the baby’s room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 degrees Celsius).
Use a White Noise Machine
If your baby won’t sleep in the bassinet, you could try using a white noise device. This machine is designed to help your baby fall asleep by creating a calming, womb-like environment. The noise this machine produces helps the baby relax and fall asleep faster.
Make Sure Your Baby Is Comfortable
One of the main reasons your baby won’t sleep in a bassinet is because it’s uncomfortable. If you want to help your baby fall asleep easily, a big part of this means making the bassinet itself cozy and safe.
Follow safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to ensure your baby sleeps well and minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). First, use a firm mattress, as memory foam mattresses could enhance the risk of choking or rebreathing. Moreover, according to the AAP, you should let your baby sleep in the same room as you for at least the first six months. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should share the same bed, as this could result in injuries and suffocation.
You should also ensure there are no pillows or loose bedding that could present a suffocation hazard. The best way to allow your baby to sleep safely is to keep the bassinet empty.
Clothing is another factor you should focus on to ensure your baby can sleep in the bassinet comfortably. Dress your little one in breathable, light clothing that will prevent them from overheating or becoming cold during the night.
The same rules apply to setting up the baby’s crib once you transition to it.
Stay Close to the Bassinet
Your baby may not be able to sleep in their bassinet because you’re not close to them. One way to help them overcome this problem is to grab a chair and sit close to the bassinet until your baby is asleep. Knowing you’re there can provide your child the comfort they need to relax.
Create a Routine
A baby’s bedtime routine is crucial for getting them to sleep in the bassinet. Getting into a routine can be challenging but it can make a world of difference for both you and your baby. A regular routine will help your baby recognizes when it’s time to sleep and will help you organize your day.
One of the best ways to develop a bedtime routine is sleep cues. Right before placing your baby in the bassinet, darken the room and dim the lights. You should try to use the same space for all sleep, including daytime naps.
When creating a routine, don’t forget to monitor how much time your baby is awake. We all know a well-rested child is a happy child. But, getting more sleep than necessary can be just as bad as not getting enough sleep. Try to maintain a healthy balance to ensure your child is ready for bed at nighttime.
Lay Down Your Baby Awake
Rocking or nursing newborns to sleep sounds appealing to many parents. But, sometimes, this can lead to developing habits that prohibit self-soothing. That’s why you should try to lay down your baby in the bassinet while they’re tired but still awake.
Hold Your Baby Upright After Feeding
Your child may not be able to fall asleep due to reflux issues. One of the actions you could take is holding them upright for around 20 minutes after feeding. During this time, gravity will work its magic and help your baby digest the food.
Swaddle Your Baby
If your baby will not sleep in their bassinet, you could try swaddling them. This will help your baby calm down and reduce the risk of the startle reflex.
Getting a Newborn to Sleep in a Bassinet – (Additional Tips)
Here are a few additional tips that can help you get your baby to sleep in their bassinet:
Wait Before Placing Your Baby in the Bassinet
If your baby falls asleep on you, wait around 10-15 minutes before putting them in the bassinet. Ensure to watch your baby’s head when placing them down.
Allow Your Baby to Self-Soothe
Babies can be noisy sleepers. You’ll often hear them crying, whimpering, or gurgling while sleeping. New parents often find it hard not to react to these little noises. However, ignoring them could help your baby learn to self-soothe.
Don’t Use Sleep Positioners
Sleep safety is a priority for every parent, and sleep positioners could jeopardize it.
A sleep positioner is a mat with raised supports or pillows that keep a baby sleeping in a particular position. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using these items as they could be dangerous and lead to suffocation.
Use a Hot Water Bottle
Getting your baby to sleep in the bassinet can be challenging. You can make the bassinet warmer and more comfortable by placing a hot water bottle or a heating pad in it. Ensure to do this around 20 minutes before putting your child down. Don’t forget to take out the water bottle or the pad from the bassinet before laying the baby down, as they could represent a safety hazard.
Give Your Baby a Massage
Massage has numerous benefits for your baby’s emotional, cognitive, physical, and social development. It helps with relaxation, decreasing irritability, reducing excessive crying, etc. Giving your baby a gentle massage allows them to enjoy the benefits of your touch and have a more relaxed sleep.
Use a Nightlight
Bright light can prevent your child from falling asleep in the bassinet. It’s important to remember that this goes for both daytime and nighttime sleep. Create a dark environment with blackout curtains or by closing the blinds. You should use a muted nightlight to check on your baby without turning on bright overhead lights.
Bassinet Sleeping the Easy Way
Some babies have no trouble sleeping in a bassinet, while others may require extra work on your part. There’s no magic formula for helping your baby fall asleep in the bassinet. But, there are numerous strategies that can assist you in establishing a routine. Ensuring your child sleeps in a bassinet may take (a lot of) time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it.