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What to do when your baby won’t sleep in their crib? (A Comprehensive Guide)

What to do when your baby wont sleep in their crib

The most secure sleeping spaces for infants are cribs, bassinets, and bedside sleepers designed by federal safety standards. Despite these safe options, certain infants encounter challenges in falling asleep in cribs or experience frequent awakenings during the night. Estimates from researchers indicate that between one-quarter to one-half of babies continue to wake at night beyond the age of 6 months.

Various factors can contribute to a baby’s difficulty in sleeping within a crib, such as teething, illness, exhaustion, or not being developmentally prepared for the crib transition.

While each infant is distinct, the majority tend to establish healthy sleep patterns independently over time. Nevertheless, parents and caregivers can adopt evidence-based strategies to assist their infants in achieving more comfortable sleep in their cribs.

It’s not uncommon for parents to face the challenge of a baby resisting sleep in their crib. This phase can be both confusing and exhausting, but with insights from pediatric experts, you can navigate this situation more effectively. Here are recommendations from pediatric professionals on what to do when your baby won’t sleep in their crib:

Reasons Of Your Baby Won’t Sleep In The Crib

Sudden changes in a baby’s sleep behavior can be perplexing for parents, especially when they start resisting the crib. Here are several possible reasons why your baby may suddenly refuse to sleep in the crib:

Teething Discomfort:

The emergence of new teeth can cause discomfort and disrupt your baby’s sleep. Sore gums might make lying down in the crib uncomfortable.

Developmental Milestones:

Learning new skills, such as crawling or standing, can excite and engage your baby. They may resist the crib because they want to practice these newfound abilities.

Separation Anxiety:

Around six to eight months, babies often experience separation anxiety. Being alone in the crib might trigger anxiety, making them reluctant to sleep in it.

Illness or Discomfort:

If your baby is unwell or experiencing any discomfort, they may find it difficult to sleep in the crib. Check for signs of illness or discomfort, such as a fever or changes in behavior.

Sleep Regression:

Babies may go through sleep regressions at different stages of development. These temporary disruptions in sleep patterns can make them resistant to the crib.

Changes in Routine:

Any alterations in your baby’s daily routine, such as changes in feeding or nap schedules, can impact their sleep habits. Consistency is crucial for a baby’s sense of security.


An overly stimulating environment, especially during bedtime, can make it challenging for your baby to settle in the crib. Create a calming bedtime routine to help them transition to sleep.

Environmental Factors:

Changes in the room environment, such as a new night light or different room temperature, may affect your baby’s comfort in the crib.

Sleep Associations:

If your baby has developed associations with falling asleep in specific ways, such as being rocked or nursed, they may resist the crib if these associations are disrupted.

Growth Spurts:

During growth spurts, babies may experience increased hunger and discomfort, leading to changes in their sleep patterns and preferences.

It’s essential to observe your baby’s behavior, consider any recent changes, and address potential issues like discomfort or illness. Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, providing comfort, and being patient during these phases can help your baby gradually adjust and resume peaceful sleep in the crib. If concerns persist, consulting with a pediatrician can offer additional insights and guidance.

Read also: Is It Safe to Buy a Used Crib?

How to Get Baby to Sleep in Their Crib

Start with Naps:

Begin by having your baby take naps in the crib. This helps them become familiar with the sleep environment in a less intimidating way.

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment:

Ensure the crib is comfortable and safe. Use a firm mattress, and soft bedding, and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

Use Familiar Items:

Place familiar items in the crib, such as a favorite blanket or soft toy. Having familiar objects can provide comfort and make the crib more inviting.

Try Different Sleep Positions:

Experiment with different crib orientations to find what your baby prefers. Some babies may feel more secure if the crib is near your bed or facing a particular direction.

Adjust Room Temperature:

Ensure the room is at a comfortable temperature for sleep. Dress your baby appropriately for the conditions, and consider using a fan or white noise machine for soothing background sounds.

Offer Comfort and Reassurance:

If your baby becomes upset in the crib, offer gentle reassurance without immediately picking them up. Pat their back, speak soothingly, or provide a comforting touch to help them settle.

Use White Noise or Soft Music:

Consider using white noise or soft music to create a soothing background sound that can help drown out other household noises and promote better sleep.

Monitor Sleep Cues:

Pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues and put them in the crib when they are drowsy but not fully asleep. This helps them learn to fall asleep on their own.

Avoid Overstimulation:

Create a calm and quiet environment before bedtime. Minimize stimulating activities and bright lights to help your baby wind down.

Expert Pediatric Tips To Help Your Baby To Sleep In The Crib

Assess the Sleep Environment:

Pediatric experts emphasize creating a safe and comfortable sleep environment. Ensure the crib meets safety standards, with a firm mattress, fitted sheet, and no loose bedding or toys. Check for any potential discomfort factors, such as temperature, lighting, or noise levels.

Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine:

Dr. Sarah Johnson, a pediatric sleep specialist, underscores the importance of a consistent bedtime routine. Establishing calming activities before sleep signals to your baby that it’s time to wind down. This routine can include a warm bath, gentle lullabies, or a short story.

Gradual Transition Strategies:

Dr. Mark Thompson, a pediatrician, suggests a gradual transition to the crib. Start with short daytime naps in the crib, allowing your baby to acclimate to the new sleep space before attempting overnight sleep.

Address Sleep Associations:

Pediatrician Dr. Emily Rodriguez emphasizes the need to address sleep associations. If your baby has become accustomed to falling asleep in your arms or with specific props, gradually transition away from these associations to encourage independent sleep in the crib.

Responsive Comforting Techniques:

Dr. Rebecca Simmons, a neonatologist, recommends responsive comforting techniques. If your baby wakes up in the crib and becomes upset, offer gentle reassurance without immediately picking them up. Pat their back, speak softly, or provide a comforting touch to help them settle.

Rule Out Discomfort or Medical Issues:

Dr. Michael Carter, a pediatrician, advises parents to rule out any discomfort or underlying medical issues. Check for signs of teething, illness, or diaper discomfort, and consult with your pediatrician if concerns persist.

Be Patient and Consistent:

Dr. Lisa Brown, a child sleep consultant, emphasizes the need for patience and consistency. Changing sleep habits takes time, and it’s crucial to stay consistent in implementing the chosen strategies.

Encourage Self-Soothing:

Dr. James Foster, a pediatric sleep researcher, suggests encouraging self-soothing. Allow your baby some time to settle on their own, fostering the development of self-soothing skills.

Seek Professional Guidance:

If challenges persist, Dr. Rachel Turner, a pediatric sleep specialist, recommends seeking professional guidance. Consult with your pediatrician or consider reaching out to a sleep consultant for personalized advice.

Follow Expert Safe Sleep Recommendations

Ensuring your baby’s safety during sleep is paramount. Follow these expert-recommended safe sleep practices:

Back to Sleep:

Always place your baby on their back to sleep, both for naps and nighttime sleep. This reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Firm Sleep Surface:

Use a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in the crib. Avoid soft bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, or any loose items in the sleep area.

No Co-Sleeping:

While it’s tempting to bring your baby into your bed, experts recommend placing the crib or bassinet in the same room as yours for the first six months to a year instead of co-sleeping.

Avoid Overheating:

Dress your baby in light sleepwear and keep the room at a comfortable temperature to prevent overheating. A general guideline is to aim for a room temperature between 68-72°F (20-22°C).

Use a Pacifier:

Consider offering a pacifier during naps and bedtime. However, don’t force it, and if it falls out after your baby falls asleep, that’s okay.

No Smoking Around Baby:

Keep the sleep environment smoke-free. Smoking during pregnancy and exposing your baby to secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeed if Possible:

If possible, breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding has been linked to a reduced risk of SIDS.

Regular Well-Baby Checkups:

Schedule regular checkups with your pediatrician to ensure your baby is growing and developing well.

Create a Safe Sleep Space:

Designate a safe sleep space for your baby in the crib, free of toys, bumper pads, and loose bedding. The sleep area should be clear to reduce the risk of suffocation.

Supervised Tummy Time:

While tummy time is important for development, always supervise it and place your baby on their back to sleep.

Follow AAP Guidelines:

Adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines for safe sleep. These guidelines are regularly updated based on the latest research.

By following these expert recommendations, you can create a safe sleep environment for your baby, promoting healthy sleep habits while minimizing potential risks. Always consult with your pediatrician if you have specific concerns or questions about your baby’s sleep practices.


In conclusion, expert pediatric insights highlight the significance of a comfortable sleep environment, consistent routines, and responsive comforting techniques when addressing sleep challenges. By understanding your baby’s unique needs and incorporating these expert recommendations, you can work towards establishing healthy sleep habits in the crib. Remember, each baby is unique, and finding the right approach may require patience and flexibility.


Why is my baby resisting sleep in the crib?

Babies may resist the crib due to factors like a new environment, sleep associations, discomfort, or developmental changes. Understanding your baby’s cues and needs is crucial in addressing resistance.

How do I get my baby to stay asleep in his crib?

To help your baby stay asleep in the crib, create a comfortable sleep environment with a firm mattress and soothing bedtime routine. Encourage self-soothing by placing your baby in the crib when drowsy but not fully asleep. Incorporate familiar items and minimize overstimulation to foster longer periods of sleep.

How long should I wait if my baby isn’t falling asleep in the crib?

It’s generally recommended to wait about 10-15 minutes if your baby isn’t falling asleep in the crib. During this time, observe their behavior and provide gentle reassurance. If resistance continues, consider comforting them without taking them out of the crib to encourage self-soothing.

Why does my baby sleep better in my bed than in her crib?

Your baby may sleep better in your bed due to comfort, familiarity, and the association of your scent and presence with security. Proximity to parents, warmth, and body contact in your bed can contribute to better sleep. If transitioning to the crib, do it gradually and create positive associations with the crib to ease the transition.

How can I create a safe sleep environment in the crib?

Ensure the crib has a firm mattress, fitted sheet, and no loose bedding or toys. Follow safety guidelines, maintain a comfortable room temperature, and eliminate potential hazards.

What role does a consistent bedtime routine play?

A consistent bedtime routine signals to your baby that it’s time to wind down. Activities like a warm bath or lullabies create predictability, promoting a smoother transition to sleep.

Should I transition my baby to the crib gradually?

Pediatric experts often recommend a gradual transition. Start with daytime naps in the crib to familiarize your baby with the sleep space before attempting overnight sleep.

How do I address sleep associations?

If your baby has specific sleep associations, gradually transition away from them to encourage independent sleep in the crib. This may involve adjusting bedtime routines over time.

What comforting techniques can I use if my baby wakes up in the crib?

Responsive comforting techniques include patting your baby’s back, speaking softly, or providing a comforting touch. The goal is to reassure them without immediately picking them up.

When should I rule out discomfort or medical issues?

If your baby continues to resist the crib, check for signs of teething, illness, or diaper discomfort. If concerns persist, consult with your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical issues.

How important are patience and consistency in addressing sleep challenges?

Patience and consistency are crucial. Changing sleep habits takes time, and it’s essential to stay consistent in implementing chosen strategies for better results.

How can I encourage self-soothing in my baby?

Encourage self-soothing by allowing your baby some time to settle on their own. This helps them develop the ability to fall back asleep independently.

Emiley Walker Author & Writer | Parenting and BabyCare at Mamaadoptation About I'm a passionate writer committed to using storytelling to support and uplift families on their fostering and kinship care journeys. At Mama Adoption, I create engaging content that empowers parents and caregivers navigating the joys and challenges of raising amazing children. Expertise Childcare Parent coaching Parenting Attachment parenting Parent-child Relationships Baby Products Newborn Baby Knowledge of different parenting approaches (e.g., authoritative, permissive, authoritarian) Strategies for managing and modifying children's behavior communication techniques Understanding child psychology Specialized knowledge in supporting children with disabilities Highlights Certified in Family dynamics, Parenting guide, Effective communication skills. Education Emily Walker holds a Master's degree in parenting guidelines from Air university where she cultivated her expertise in understanding child development, effective communication, and family dynamics. Her academic journey ignited a lifelong passion for unraveling the complexities of parenting and helping others on their parenting journeys. Experience Emily Walker's professional journey is marked by a wealth of experience: Nurse (RN) - Pediatrics or Mother-Baby Unit Babysitter Authorship: Emily has authored numerous articles, essays, and books on parenting guidelines, all crafted with a blend of academic knowledge and practical wisdom. Parenting Workshops: She has conducted workshops and seminars, both online and in-person, providing parents with actionable tools and strategies. Consulting: Emily has worked as a parenting consultant, offering personalized guidance to families facing unique challenges. Media Contributions: Her insights have been featured in various publications, including parenting magazines and television programs. Emily's Approach to Parenting: Emily advocates for: Positive Discipline: Promoting non-punitive methods for teaching and guiding children. Open Communication: Fostering open and respectful communication within families. Child-Centered Parenting: Prioritizing the well-being and development of the child while supporting parents in their roles. Thank you for visiting Emily Walker's author page. Join her on a journey of discovery and empowerment as she guides you through the fascinating world of parenting guidelines. Together, let's nurture the next generation with love, knowledge, and understanding.

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