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How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in Their Crib

Updated on December 1, 2015
Kara Fidd profile image

I am a mom, nurse, military spouse and blogger. I write about my experience being a new mom, DIY crafts, and recipes.

Start with the room

You plan and decorate your nursery and it is definitely cute enough to be on pinterest, but is it functional for sleep? Make the room as dark as possible. If the curtains you use aren't quite dark enough, purchase shades. Walmart has blackout paper blinds for $3 that work fantastic and can be hidden easily. Next, have a noise machine. I find that when my baby falls asleep to noise- he sleeps much deeper. If he falls asleep to silence, any little thing will wake him up. Experiment what works for your baby. I tried leaving my machine on the lullaby songs and he didn't like it as much as the white noise. Every baby is different and unfortunately there is no golden rule.

Make the Crib Comfortable

Keeping in mind that the American Pediatric Association recommends that the baby be alone in the crib for safety, experiment with different set ups to see what works for your baby. Maybe they need a wedge to slightly elevate the mattress. Maybe they prefer a blanket to a sleep sack. They might be too hot when they are swaddled or just plain uncomfortable. I love knitted cocoons. They are warm and give the same feel as a blanket but the baby can't cover his face with it.

Start Slow

Have your baby nap in the crib. Start this as soon as possible, regardless of where they are sleeping at night. You might have no intention of moving them back to their room yet, but the sooner you start napping in the crib, the easier it will be later on. They will become familiar and comfortable with the crib, so later on when you are trying to move them out of your room- it won't be such a new and scary place. The younger the baby, the easier it will be. Most infants will sleep just about anywhere. Mine was good anywhere as long as he had his pacifier. If your baby is a little older, it might not be as easy but stick to it, eventually they will learn that their crib is for sleeping.

Once you are ready to make the switch, you can start with alternating days in the crib. Increase as quickly as you feel comfortable. Only you know your baby. Personally, I started by putting my baby in the crib every night, when he woke up (usually around 3am) I would bring him back into my room. Now, he sleeps through the night but if he tries to wake up at 6am, ill bring him into my room and snuggle until 7am when it's time to wake up.

Evaluate What Isn't Working

Sometimes no matter what you do, your baby is just not sleeping. Evaluate what is just NOT working. I remember when my baby would wake up just about every hour, even at 4 months old. I thought "what is it that's waking him up?" I'd go in, put his pacifier back in, he would fall asleep and then BAM an hour later he would be up. Then it hit me, every time he spits his pacifier out, it would wake him up. So I stopped giving him his pacifier and almost like magic, he slept through the night with only 2 night feedings.

Then I thought, he is four months old and in the 90th percentile of weight. He doesn't need night feedings. He wants them because they are a comfort, not a necessity. So then I weaned him off his night feedings and now (only a few weeks later) he is sleeping from 8pm-7am.

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Crying it out

There may come a time that you are out of options and the only thing left to do is cry it out. For me, it wasn't when my baby went back to the crib, it was when I took his pacifier away. I wanted to teach him how to put himself to sleep. I didn't use the full blown cry it out method. This is what worked for me:

  • lay baby down- he starts to cry
  • start the timer (10 minutes)
  • is the baby still crying? If yes, go into the room and tell him you love him and leave. Try not to stay too long- remember the idea is to get him to go to sleep on his own.
  • start the timer (10 minutes) and repeat until the baby is sleeping.

At first, you can expect this to last about 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on the age of the baby. Younger babies will get tired more quickly. Crying is hard work! Older babies have a little more stamina. Just be consistent, and patient. It works pretty quickly. Within a few days my baby would cry for about 5-10 minutes, now he just fusses and "talks"' to himself and when/if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he puts himself right back to sleep.

There is another method that I found, that didn't really work for me but if it works for you then its worth writing. It's like a reverse cry-it-out:

  • lay baby down- they start to cry
  • wait outside the room until they start to settle, go in and tell them you love them and leave
  • repeat until baby is asleep

The idea is to "reward" them when they stop crying. However, with my son- it seemed like me coming in and leaving would only upset him after he got himself settled down. Again, every baby is different so it's worth a shot!

Never Underestimate a Routine

Getting your baby to sleep in their crib will be much easier if you establish a routine and stick to it. That way, wether they go to sleep in your room or their own crib- they know its bedtime when you start your routine.

Here's an example of an easy bedtime routine:

  • last feeding
  • bath
  • storytime
  • bed

A good rule of thumb for bedtime routines is that it should be something that can be done wherever you are. Wether they are home or staying over at grandmas house. Keep it flexible so that they aren't completely thrown off when something changes.

Keep it Consistent

No matter what works for you or what you decide you want to do, consistency is always key. If you want to move him back to the crib, don't give up because it is hard at first, each time you stray from the plan, the harder it will be. Example; If you decide to take the pacifier away, and someone gives them a pacifier for a nap- chances are good you will be starting all over. When you decide to move them back to their room, each time you let them back into your room you will be delaying the process. Everyone needs sleep eventually, so if you need to take a break to get some sleep then by all means, just keep that in mind if you're wondering why it's taking so long for your baby to adjust. Good luck!

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