5 Tips When Baby Will Only Sleep in a Rock-N-Play

5 Tips When Baby Will Only Sleep in a Rock-N-Play
RECALL NOTICE: The Rock-N-Play was recalled in April 2019. Since 2009, over 30 infant deaths occurred due to a child rolling while unrestrained. Please always use restraints on any device that has them and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, it is recommended to stop using some items as soon as your child can roll.

The Graco Rock-N-Play has been a great tool for a parent’s toolbox, but what happens when your baby will only sleep in the Rock-N-Play? Here are 5 tips to help:

  1. Practice laying flat – Sometimes, the biggest adjustment to life outside the womb is laying flat. After all, your baby is “floating” in your belly all those months. One can only imagine how peaceful that must feel. Having a firm surface underneath you and laying on your back isn’t a position some babies like, especially those babies who have reflux.

    So, first, you might want to simply practice laying your baby flat during non-sleep times during the day. Tummy time is great, but since your baby isn’t supposed to sleep on his tummy until he is older, it’s best to practice laying your baby on his or her back. You might start with 5-10 minutes every day once a day, then twice a day, and so on. It doesn’t mean he will sleep on his back, but it’s a start!
  2. Turn off the vibrations or rocking – If you are using the vibrations or rocking motion of the Rock-N-Play, try turning those off. Transitioning from moving sleep to a firm, flat, non-moving sleep position is changing multiple variables. Try changing just one variable at a time such as the rocking or vibrations.

    Another option is to put your baby in the crib, but then use the Tranquilo Mat in the crib for the vibrations. For safety reasons, we recommend starting with it under the crib sheets and safely securing the sheets. As another step in the transition, move it to under the crib mattress.
  3. Sleep on the crib sheets – Your scent transferred to a crib sheet can possibly give your baby comfort in transitioning to a new sleep space. Your baby’s scent can also help, so you can try to have playtime on the crib sheets during non-sleep times a few days prior to trying the crib. It may not be a cure-all, but anything can help with an adjustment period.
  4. Transition gradually* – Another thing to consider is working your way up to all naps or all night in the new sleep space like the crib. What may start as just 30 minutes can rapidly increase as your baby gets more and more accustomed to a new bed or mattress. Consider that right now the crib feels like a foreign place much like adults don’t like to sleep in a hotel bed. But, with more time on the new mattress, this can become your baby’s new “normal.” Start with 30 minutes to an hour, then add an hour each night or three hours each night, whatever feels comfortable. Your baby might just surprise you and add on hours without any effort as he or she grows more and more accustomed to the new bed.
  5. Be persistent – I can’t tell you how many parents tell me something “didn’t work” after trying something one time. It takes a lot of repetition for some things to “stick” when it comes to children. I can’t count how many times I had to remind my children to say “please” and “thank you.” Even if it doesn’t work the first time, stay persistent and follow-through. As I mentioned above, you can make gradual changes and work your way up, if that works best for your baby and/or for you.

Sometimes your baby won’t sleep in a bedside bassinet. And, sometimes, your baby will only sleep in a Rock-N-Play or other bassinet and you want him or her in the crib. The number of potential sleep challenges in the first year alone is enough to drive new parents bonkers. Hopefully, these tips will have your baby sleeping in no time!

* Please note: The Rock-N-Play technically does not adhere to safe sleep guidelines which state your baby should sleep on a firm, flat surface. But, in our experience, many families use it as a sleep device, because let’s face it, when your baby is not sleeping, you will do just about anything to get some extra zzz’s. To adhere to safe sleep guidelines, you would need to stop using the Rock-N-Play immediately. If you do keep using it, you should always use the restraints and once your baby can roll, you need to stop using this product immediately. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully.

How did you get your baby to stop sleeping in the Rock-N-Play?

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2 thoughts on “5 Tips When Baby Will Only Sleep in a Rock-N-Play”

  1. This article is incorrect. Most of the baby deaths were due to positional asphyxia of babies well within the age range to use the device (and following instructions for use).

    • Hi KW,
      Thank you for your comment! Do you have a source for that? We are citing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall, but would be happy to update the article if there’s further information available.

Comments are closed.

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