QUICK TIP: Why Your Baby Won’t Sleep In The Crib (And 3 Tips To Help)

Baby Won't Sleep In Crib

“Oh, sure, my baby sleeps – just not in the crib.”

Sound familiar? So many of our Baby Sleep Site® families tell us their babies sleep beautifully in moms arms, in the baby sling, in the stroller, in the car seat, in the swing…but NOT in the crib. And since crib sleep is what many parents are working towards, this can be quite a problem!

Why Baby Won’t Sleep In The Crib

If you think about it, it makes sense, right? Your arms are so warm and snuggly (and they smell like you!) In the sling, baby is pressed right up against you. And the car seat, stroller, and swing – they move, just like your baby did when she was in your womb. Simply put, babies prefer to be held snugly and gently rocked, because that’s exactly what they had for 9 months during your pregnancy.

But the crib? It’s flat, it’s stationary, and it’s decidedly un-snuggly (especially if you follow safe sleep guidelines, and don’t allow soft objects or loose blankets in the crib). No wonder, then, that baby would much prefer to sleep on you, or in a snuggly, moving contraption, like the swing.

3 Tips To Help Baby Sleep In The Crib

How can you gently encourage your baby to sleep in the crib? Try the following tips:

  1. Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! If you’re not already, try swaddling your baby for sleep. Swaddling can help baby feel more secure, since the swaddle sort of feels like mom’s arms, or like the coziness of the sling or baby swing. If your baby is too bit (or too old) to be swaddled tightly in a blanket, try a Zipadee-Zip – it offers more range of movement, and it zips closed (and is, therefore, super-secure – good for older babies), but it still provides the snuggly security that comes with swaddling
  2. Eliminate movement slowly. If your baby’s particular sleep association has to do with movement (rocking in your arms, or in the baby swing, for example), start by eliminating the movement. For example, if your baby will sleep only in the swing, continue putting your baby in the swing at sleep times, but gradually phase out the swinging. This sleep training technique is known as “fading”. Once your baby has learned to sleep without movement, you can switch to putting baby to sleep in the crib.
  3. Put baby to bed drowsy, but awake. Once you have gotten your baby used to sleeping without movement, and without being held in your arms or in the sling, it’s time to try putting your baby down in the crib drowsy, but awake. This is key – your baby needs to know she is falling asleep; this is an important step on the road to sleeping through the night. You can help your baby become drowsy, but then be sure she’s at least slightly awake when you put her down in the crib. You can gradually work towards baby being fully awake when she goes down for naps and at bedtime.

The beauty of these tips is that they are suitable for babies of any age. They’re so gentle, you can even use them to help a newborn sleep!

Baby Won’t Sleep In The Crib? We Can Help!

Teaching your baby to sleep independently, in the crib, can be a monumental task. That’s why we’re here… To help support you and guide you with a gentler and kinder approach to great sleep. Feel free to contact us at any time if you’d like to learn more!

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6 thoughts on “QUICK TIP: Why Your Baby Won’t Sleep In The Crib (And 3 Tips To Help)”

  1. Not to sure what to do now, i have tried eveything with skyla, inwill put her in cot when shes drowsy but she will keep sitting up, she wont sleep in the cot .. help please!

    • Hi Linda,
      Thank you for your comment! I’m so sorry to hear you’re having such trouble with your daughter’s sleep. We’d love to help. The first thing would be to check that the schedule you’re using is age-appropriate. You didn’t mention her age, but we have a lot of schedules you can use here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-feeding-schedules/

      Then, the most common reason for a baby to have trouble falling asleep is a sleep association. We have more information on what that is and how to work with them here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-association/

      If you continue to have trouble, I’d really encourage to write to us with your baby’s age at [email protected]. If we know her age and a little more about what’s going on, we’d be happy to offer some more resources for you, to help improve your family’s sleep. Best of luck!

  2. @ Mary —

    Thanks so much for replying! I would say that since you’re VERY close to the 2-to-1 nap transition (most kiddos make this around 15-18 months), it may be best to keep doing what you’re doing. I think most parents find two naps tough, since it eats up your morning AND your afternoon, but once she’s down to just one nap, you will likely be able to time it so that it doesn’t coincide with school pick-up or afternoon activities.

    Hope that helps, Mary! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  3. She’s just coming up to 15 months now but it’s been a problem since she started to become more aware of the world around her – it seems it’s far to exciting out there to sleep!! It doesn’t help that the route to preschool for her big sister consists of sheep, cows, ducks and lots of people walking their dogs! She doesn’t even sleep in the car any more. So we avoid going out as much as possible around nap times. I’m feeling pretty housebound at the moment. Even at home though she’s such a light sleeper that the slightest noise can disturb her. She doesn’t sleep too well overnight either, but although she wakes frequently she is happy so not sure what to do to help her sleep better.

    • @ Mary – oh, many – that’s definitely a problem, too! How old is your baby? And how often are you out and about? Is this just a “sometimes” kind of problem, or is this something that you face daily?

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