If you are anything like us, you probably read all about sleep safety. You know that co-sleeping is not recommended and you can probably recite the official sleep safety recommendations from top to bottom. You feel like a great parent, you set up an amazing looking baby nursery, but… your baby won’t sleep in the crib.
What is wrong? You think. You know how important it is to follow the safety recommendations but you just give up. In the end, co-sleeping is not only cozy but it is practical, specially if you are breastfeeding, and the baby seems to absolutely love it.
Yeah, this works just fine, nothing bad is gonna happen to us! You think. but there is a problem with it. If it wasn’t enough that it is actually a sleep safety hazard for the risks we already talked about in this blog, there are many other reasons why it is actually detrimental not only to the baby but to you and your partner. But hey, that is a subject to a whole other blog post.
Is there something wrong with my baby?
First, let’s get this out of the way: No! There is absolutely nothing wrong with your baby. It is in fact perfectly normal for a newborn baby to fight sleep. We all know stories about the typical sleep deprived new parents and there is a reason for that.
So, despite that annoying new mom (we all know one) whose baby sleeps like an angel 12 hours through the night, when it comes to baby sleep, the struggle is real.
That being said, let’s dig in the 9 reasons why your baby won’t sleep in the crib:
1) Your baby doesn’t feel safe in the crib
Sometimes we do everything right. We rock the baby into deep sleep and we go right for the crib. We even manage to lay the baby down on the crib without a problem.
But then it happens. That dreaded scream! It’s like the crib is the baby’s worst nightmare. The truth is that the baby doesn’t feel safe in it. We need to actively demonstrate to her that the crib is a safe and comfortable place and that she is going to be hanging out in there often.
2) It’s just too cold in the crib
Think of it like that. Your bed is nice and warm. You got duvets and pillows and usually two warm bodies sharing it night in night out. Of course the baby is going to prefer sleeping in it instead of a cold and empty crib, you would too!
So, one possible reason for the baby to keep neglecting her crib can be that she is just cold. Especially if you are following the baby safe sleep recommendations, the crib shouldn’t have more than a stretchy crib sheet so it doesn’t bunch up. No blankets.
What is usually recommended instead is a cozy one piece baby sleep sack. It works as a wearable blanket and it’s micro-fleece fabric is super soft. Click on the picture bellow to check it out on Amazon.com.
3) The crib is too distracting
When we wanted to make the crib a little more attractive to our little girl, we decided to pimp it up a little bit. We bought a really fancy baby mobile and a nice mosquito net. It sure looked really cute.
Well, what we wish we had known is that not all baby mobiles are created equal. Some are rather stimulating than soothing and while some babies do get calmer with their baby mobile, ours just got way too excited by it.
It didn’t matter whether we were using the one with the “soothing” label on it. Our little girl just wanted to scream and talk to those little animals hanging up there. Maybe an advocate against animal cruelty already? 🙂
In any case, the idea here is to test it out. Just consider that this may indeed be a problem so do test with or without baby mobile and see what your baby best responds to.
4) You simply won’t let it
One huge mistake that we see a lot of parents doing, and one that we certainly did ourselves, is to give up on the first cry!
When we are transitioning the baby to the crib, we go through many different stages. First it just seems it is never going to work at all. As soon as the baby’s skin touches the crib, she screams like it hurt. She then just bounces back from it.
If that’s where you are now, don’t worry. It gets better. You just need to keep practicing. Just understand that there will be a time when the baby doesn’t complain so much anymore when you put her in the crib. You lay her down and she stays! It feels great.
But, unfortunately it doesn’t last long. It’s like a broken alarm clock. 5 minutes after you laid her down, she starts screaming again. And that is where most sleep training parents fail. Most parents just immediately pull the baby out of the crib!
You see, by doing it you are signalling to the baby that indeed, that place isn’t safe and that daddy or mommy came back to rescue them. This is not what you wanna teach your baby. You have to let them sleep! And by that I mean, to focus on teaching them how to sooth themselves.
There is a lot of quality source of information on how to train your baby to self soothing. We recommend Tracy Hogg’s book as a good start. Check it out on Amazon.
5) Baby is way too tired
This may sound counter intuitive. But if the baby is overtired, she usually will have a hard time falling sleep. She will just be angry and moody and will respond less to your attempts to calming and communicating with her.
That is why it is extremely important to get your baby’s daily nap routine going from the get go. After doing some research, sit down with your significant other and craft your baby daily schedule. Get it down to the details of when the baby eats, sleeps, bathes, plays, goes for a walk outside, how long the baby is supposed to sleep at every single nap, etc.
We know real life will most likely get in the way of the schedule every other day. But it is extremely important that your baby knows that there is a time to eat, to sleep, to play, and so forth.
When we implemented our schedule, our baby girl immediately showed much better mood during the evening and began to sleep longer and longer through the night.
6) They just don’t know how
One of the main reasons why your baby won’t sleep in crib is the simple fact that the baby just doesn’t know how. We take it for granted, but to learn how make yourself fall sleep was not something you were born with. You learned it.
Therefore, parents should help their babies to learn this as soon as possible. One of the ways of doing it is to not put your baby in the crib when she is in deep sleep! The secret here to to move the baby to the crib when she is a little dozy and is almost falling sleep.
This way she will do that extra final step all by herself and in no time she will be capable of putting herself to sleep in crib.
7) The baby won’t sleep in crib because she doesn’t associate the crib with sleeping
As we tried to make the baby spent a little bit more time in the crib we noticed this interesting pattern. She wouldn’t cry anymore when she was hanging out in it but she would be fairly active. Talking to the little animals on her baby mobile and everything. But she didn’t seem to get tired.
That is when we realize that she considered the crib as play time!
You see, not only babies but we all have these sleep associations. Little patterns in our routine that we associate with “it’s time to sleep“. The baby needs to learn that the crib is where she sleeps. Not where she talks to her toys or get any other sort of stimulation.
That was one of the reasons why we decided to do away with our baby mobile.
8) She misses proximity
If you are used to co sleeping then that is probably why your baby doesn’t want to sleep by itself. You will notice that even when she falls asleep, she will reach out for contact with her hands. It is surely adorable but ultimately the baby needs to get over it.
What worked for us was to be there looking over the crib while she is falling asleep. This way she would feel our presence there, feel a little more safe and it usually led to her sleeping without any problem. Of course, in the beginning she would wake up every hour and cry because we weren’t there cuddling her.
Ideally, she will be able to put herself back to sleep after she wakes up and realize she all by herself in the crib.
9) She needs to eat too often during the night
This is a big one that nursing moms can definitely relate. Your baby cries for food every couple of hours through the entire night. The baby has a very small stomach which can’t take that much food to keep the baby fed for many hours.
But as the baby grows past 4 months you can try feeding her all her calories during the day time. This way she won’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night to complete here daily calorie intake.
So this is it. If you have another reason we didn’t mention on why the baby won’t sleep in crib? Please let us know in the comment section bellow.
When while you are here, check out our other articles on baby sleep here on the blog.