You’re done for the day and just can’t wait to get some shut-eye. You feed and rock your baby to sleep in your arms. Then you lay him in a cozy bassinet and turn around.
Your little one says otherwise.
This situation is all too familiar for many mothers.
The above scenario has one thing wrong, but don’t worry. I’m going to walk you through how to get your baby to sleep in a bassinet.
Why Won’t My Baby Sleep In A Bassinet?
If your little one could talk, they’d probably tell you numerous reasons why they simply refuse to sleep in a bassinet. However, that is a fantasy that will never happen—in the first few weeks, of course.
If you pay keen attention to them, you may notice some behavioral patterns when it’s time to sleep in a bassinet. You should take note during this time though, but for simplicity’s sake, here are a few reasons why your little one may refuse a bassinet.
- Your baby is hungry: Your baby may not mind sleeping in a bassinet; they may just need a small feeding. Your little one will eat in short intervals, up to 8 or 12 times a day in the first weeks. If they have an empty stomach, chances are they won’t go to sleep in the bassinet.
- Your baby is overtired: This may sound ironic. If your little one gets too tired, they are not going to sleep at all, and certainly not in a bassinet.
How does this happen? Well, if you skip a nap session during the day, they are going to be too tired from inadequate sleep to do so at night.
- Sleeping Habits: In the introduction, I mentioned leaving your baby in your arms to fall asleep. As comfortable as that is for your little one, you should avoid it. Because let’s be honest, there is no other place as comfortable as mama’s arms.
If you start leaving your baby to fall asleep while you hold them, they will soon establish that that is the right and most convenient way to sleep. So, they would fuss about being in a bassinet.
- Startle Reflex: Another reason your baby may object to sleeping in a bassinet is the startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex.
Babies are light sleepers, so the slightest change in the environment, whether it is switching on the light or transferring them from your arms to the bassinet, can startle them and cause them to cry.
- Your baby is gassy: Sometimes, that little tap on your baby’s back is not enough to get rid of gas in their body. If this is the case, your little one will be quite uncomfortable. So, they will certainly object when you put them to sleep in a bassinet.
- Your baby is hot or cold: Again, this boils down to the discomfort of your little one. If the temperature of the bassinet and the room is beyond optimal levels, they won’t be getting any sleep and neither will you.
- Your baby can’t tell whether it is day or night: Some babies have trouble perceiving the days from the nights. So, if your little one doesn’t know that it’s night and time for a lengthy sleep, they will make a fuss when placed in a bassinet.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep In A Bassinet
Now that you know the reasons why your baby may be refusing to sleep in a bassinet, it’s time to work on sleep training.
Before you take action on the tips I’m about to list, observe your little one properly to find out which of the above reasons applies to them.
You could also check out some YouTube videos for a few more tips like the video by Amanda Breen.
1.Create And Stick To A Bed Time Routine
A great way to help your baby get comfortable in a bassinet is to be consistent with the things they do just before sleeping. You should also do this at a specific time each day—and yes, even on the extra tight days.
I created a bedtime routine for my second child that went like this:
- Give him a bath
- Feed him
- Rock and cuddle him
- Put him to sleep in the bassinet.
The time I set for this ritual was 8 pm–8:30 pm every day, and I tried my best to never miss it. My husband or another caregiver took over on days that I just couldn’t make it.
You can follow my routine or make one for yourself. Just make sure you are consistent about it.
2. Have Your Baby Nap In Their Bassinet During The Day.
You want to introduce you baby to sleeping in the bassinet early and gradually. One way to achieve this is to have your little one take their day naps in the bassinet.
This will gradually build your baby’s familiarity with the sleeping space, and little by little, they will be open to sleeping comfortably in a safe bassinet.
3.Check The Temperature
Firstly, ensure that the temperature of your baby’s room is between 68 °F and 72 °F. That is the optimal temperature for a comfortable sleep. When I was room sharing with my little one, I would set the thermostat to 69°F one hour before it was time to nap.
If you’ve decided to go with a little skin-to-skin time just before putting your little one to sleep in the bassinet, you may want to warm the sheets. Be careful with this as it is easy to get hot spots across the sheet.
As I previously stated, babies are light sleepers so if you let yours fall asleep in your arms and then place them in a bassinet, they are bound to wake up.
What I did with my little one was to rock him in my arms and wait until he felt drowsy. So just before he falls asleep, I’d place him in the bassinet. The key here is to do it when your baby is on the brink of entering sleep but still aware of any change in their environment.
5. Create An Environment Similar To That Of Your Womb
Your little one may not be sleeping in a bassinet because of how foreign the environment seems to them. This is especially true in the first few weeks, when they are still used to the feel of your womb.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to resemble the womb.
- Swaddling: This can build a sense if familiarity in your little one as they were in a similar position in your womb.
Make sure you stop swaddling your little one as soon as they start showing signs of rolling over, though.
- Use a white noise machine: This machine will help your baby even more because they will be listening to similar muffled heartbeats and voices they heard while in your womb.
6.Comfort them as soon as they are in the bassinet
The fact remains that your baby is going to love your touch more than any bassinet in the universe. So, you would need to assure them of your presence in the bassinet. I don’t mean sleeping in the bassinet, though!
If your little one begins to make a fuss, simply comfort him while in the bassinet. Give him the assurance that mama is right there. This will go a long way, trust me.
You can’t remain there all through your little one’s sleep, but you can leave your mark. Sleep with your baby’s clothes and sheets for a few nights to get your smell into them. So that when your baby uses them in the bassinet, they are greeted with a sense of familiarity.
Safe Sleep Rules in the Bassinet
I know you can’t wait to have some time to yourself when your little one finally accepts sleeping in their bassinet. Well, before you get to that, there are some safe sleep rules for using a bassinet to keep in mind.(1)
- Use a firm mattress in your little one’s bassinet: No matter how tempted you are to use a “soft” mattress because you believe it will be more comfortable, don’t.
In reality, using a soft mattress poses a risk of suffocation and increases the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Keep all foreign materials out of the bassinet: This includes products marketed as sleep aids. From toys to baby bumpers to even blankets, none are acceptable.
If you feel your baby is too cold, put on a wearable blanket or swaddle them. Make sure you’re not covering their heads during sleep.
- Put your baby to sleep on their back: Don’t be told otherwise. The best position for your baby to sleep in is on their back. Not on their sides or on their stomachs.
You don’t have to worry about reflux as your baby’s anatomy and gastric reflex will prevent any occurrence of choking while they sleep. This also reduces the risk of SIDS.
- Practice room sharing for at least 6 months: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you share a room with your child for at least 6 months but not necessarily more than a year.(2)
This reduces the risk of SIDS by 50% as you can keep an eye on your little one while sleeping soundly in their bassinet.
Recommendation for safe bassinet: buy it now
It’s one thing to follow safe sleep practices for your baby in a bassinet. It’s another to ensure that you are using a bassinet that is up to par.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, an old bassinet is not the best option when it comes to safety. This is because some of these bassinets were not made to meet the CPSC’s standards.
The CPSC recommends the use of a new bassinet for your baby. And only when this is impossible should you make do with an old bassinet. Still, you will need to check for these:
- Unstable legs could result in the bassinet tipping over.
- Space between the mattress and bassinet due to the unstable frame.
- More than ¼ inch opening on bassinet mesh.
- Holes or other damage to the headboard or footboard.
The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in their bassinet, but you have to be patient in introducing them to it as they are likely to refuse at first. Just remember that this time is temporary and, as the super parent that you are, you will get through it!
Will you try out some of these tips to get your little one to sleep in their bassinet? Or do you have a few more? I would love to hear your answer. Leave a comment!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2022, June 28). Helping Babies Sleep Safely https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/features/baby-safe-sleep/index.html
- Rachel Y. Moon, MD, FAAP (2022, July 14). Healthy Children. How To Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx