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How to Address Your Baby’s Reluctance to Sleep in the Crib: Effective Strategies

As much as they are looking forward to parenthood, nothing prepares new parents for the challenges that come with looking after an infant. One major challenge associated with newborns is that of sleep. Even the most prepared parent can feel a little lost while figuring out the sleep cycle of their newborn. Striking a balance between practising safe sleep practices, and comforting your newborn while also managing to take care of yourself and your house can be a lot.

Given that, establishing a safe sleep practice such as putting babies to sleep in the crib and helping them adjust to it can seem quite tough, especially in India, where crib sleeping is not as popular culturally. On top of that, if you are dealing with a baby who refuses to sleep in a crib, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

To help new parents conquer this parenting challenge without feeling discouraged, we have prepared this easy-to-follow primer containing science-based tips and tricks on how to train a baby to sleep in a crib. Read on!

Why Should You Put Your Baby To Sleep In The Crib?

Even though not popular culturally in our society, crib sleeping has multiple benefits for both the child and parents.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends crib sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Also, sleeping in the cribs can reduce the risk of accidental falls for the baby.
  • By learning to sleep in the crib, the child also learns to self-soothe, which can help them develop sleep autonomy and foster healthy sleep habits.
  • It also helps parents’ well-being by giving them more restful sleep and time to do self-care, which promotes their mental and physical well-being and helps them be better parents.

At What Age Should A Baby Sleep In Crib?

While no particular age has been specified as the age for crib sleeping, three factors can help you decide when is the right time for your family to practise crib sleeping. Firstly, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), for the first year of a child’s life, it’s very important to practise safe sleeping habits such as crib sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Second, you can make this decision based on your child’s developmental milestones – notice if they have started rolling or if they are outgrowing their bassinet and sleeping through longer stretches at night — before initiating this transition.

Lastly, consider your own comfort. Depending on what you are focusing on – comfort, breastfeeding convenience — choose a specific age by which you want to transition your child to sleep in a crib.

What Are Some Ways To Help Babies Get Accustomed To Sleeping In The Crib?

  1. Begin Early :
  2. Having discussed the factors, it’s always better if you start putting your child to bed in the crib sooner rather than later. You can even start to put them in the crib for playtime or naps. Doing so will help create a positive association with that place. 

  3. Set a Routine and Follow it Consistently :
  4. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and follow it consistently. The routine could involve a warm bath before bed, and reading or narrating stories before turning the lights out.

  5. Make the Crib Appealing:
  6. Ensure there is weather-appropriate bedding in the crib. Remove extra pillows that can pose the risk of suffocation. Put in a favourite soft toy or a shirt that smells like you to help your little one feel at home in the crib.

  7. Drowsy but Awake :
  8. The trick to making crib sleeping work for your child is to put them down in it when they are drowsy but still awake. That way they still know where they are going to sleep. If you put them in the crib after they have slept, they may find it distressing that they went to sleep in one place and woke up in another.

  9. Resist the Urge to Pick Them :
  10. If they are being fussy or crying, resist the urge to pick them up. Instead, encourage them to self-soothe by patting their backs or stroking them softly. Talk to them in hushed tones to comfort them.

  11. Be Consistent :
  12. Even when it doesn’t seem to work, don’t abandon it right away. Remember not all crying means distress. Persist with the routine you have chosen even if you encounter some setbacks.

  13. Check for Discomfort :
  14. If your child is crying a lot, they may be in discomfort. Do address any discomfort your child may feel- be it hunger or a dirty diaper or if they are too hot or too cold.

  15. Promote Naps :
  16. To help your nighttime routine work well, ensure that your baby is also able to take naps in the day at set times. Overtired babies find it harder to sleep at night, resulting in more crankiness and disruption in routine.

  17. Remove Props :
  18. While it may make things easier in the short run, avoid giving props like milk bottles to help them fall asleep in the crib as it will create a dependence and they will find it harder to sleep without it.

  19. Stay in it to Win it :
  20. It can be hard to introduce new changes with the existing responsibilities of parenting an infant but remember to stay calm and consistent. This will help you establish the routine faster.

When Should You Remove Cribs?

Parenthood in the early years is all about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Just as you start getting comfortable with a routine yet another change takes place and things shift. AGAIN. Now if you are wondering how long babies sleep in cribs, the answer may surprise you but don’t let it put you off crib training. Anywhere between the 18th-month mark to 3.5 years of age, your child may become ready to transition to a toddler bed from the crib. This again will depend on the three factors we discussed above. And this decision too, should be taken based on the development of your child and your preferences.

Crib Sleeping: Ensuring Comfort And Rest For Everyone

How to put a baby to sleep in a crib — at first it may seem daunting to discover the answer to this question, but with time, patience, and consistency you can find a way that works for you. Instead of a frightening new change, crib sleeping can be a new milestone to celebrate and foster a deeper connection as both you and your little one enjoy the benefits of restful sleep.

To discover more resources and other helpful hacks to enhance your parenting journey, visit EuroKids

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