Are you struggling to get your newborn to sleep in their bassinet?
As a new mom, I was warned my newborn would wake up a lot during the night, but no one told me she might refuse to sleep anywhere but in my arms. At first, I would get sporadic sleep throughout the night, but that progressed to me getting absolutely none.
Thankfully I was able to figure out a few tricks, and soon my little one was sleeping peacefully beside me in her bassinet. If you’re currently struggling to get your baby to sleep in their bassinet, don’t lose hope — it can be done!
With a few tricks and a little know-how, your baby will be sleeping in their bassinet soon as well, and you will finally be able to catch some sleep of your own.
Why Choose A Bassinet?
Bassinets might seem like an outdated sleep choice for your newborn, especially in a world full of convertible cribs, co-sleepers, and pack-n-plays. In many cases, for various reasons. Bassinets are a convenient option.
- Small size: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parent until they are at least six months of age, and for the first year if possible (1).
This has been shown to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but can be difficult when you have a small bedroom. Bassinets are some of the smallest sleeping options for your newborn, making them an excellent choice for room sharing.
- Affordability: Bassinets have less upfront cost than other sleeping options for your baby, often running less than $100. This makes them a good choice for parents who want to save money in the first few months of baby’s life and buy a crib later on.
- Portability: Do you want your baby to be in the room with you, so you can keep an eye on them, even while they sleep? Many bassinets come with wheels, so you can easily move your baby from room to room in your home.
Helping Baby Sleep Independently
So you’ve bought your baby a beautiful bassinet, and your little one is refusing to use it. What next? You know it’s important to get them to use it — for your sleep cycle and their safety — but how can you get the process started?
If you find yourself with a stubborn sleeper, there are a few things you can try to help them adjust to their proper bed.
1. A solid bedtime routine
Chances are you’ve been all but beaten over the head with this bit of advice. The idea that your baby needs a solid bedtime routine seems to be one of the most common pieces of advice given to new parents.
Here’s the thing — your mom, your grandma, and your fellow mothers aren’t wrong. Studies show implementing a steady and consistent night routine can help your baby fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night (2).
So, what does a solid night routine look like? It’s best to start with a few simple actions and then add and subtract them as you see fit.
There are a few things you can try in your bedtime routine:
- Bath time.
- Light massage for baby.
- Quiet play.
- Reading or singing to them.
The important thing is that you follow the same routine, in the same order, at the same time, every night. This will help your baby know bedtime is approaching and it’s time to wind down. This will make the process of putting them to sleep in their bassinet an easier one.
2. Lay baby down awake
Cuddling and even rocking your baby are acceptable parts of your night routine, but you need to make sure your baby doesn’t fall asleep in the process. Believe it or not, you want your baby to be awake when you lay them down in their bassinet.
The sweet spot is when they’re drowsy but still awake. This means they’re calm and relaxed, just on the verge of going to sleep, but not there yet (3).
This teaches your baby to fall asleep without you holding them, and will eventually help them self-soothe and sleep longer throughout the night.
3. Swaddle them
If your little one is small enough to sleep safely in a bassinet, chances are they’re small enough to be swaddled as well. Unless your baby can roll over on their own, which can cause a suffocation risk, swaddling is a good option to help them sleep in their bassinet (4).
Until your baby is rolling over, swaddling can help them for many reasons:
- Feels secure: Swaddling helps baby to feel protected and secure like they did in their mother’s womb. This helps them to relax and fall asleep faster, as well as sleep longer.
- Reduces startle reflex: One of the reasons babies wake up throughout the night is their Moro Reflex, commonly called the startle reflex (5). The Moro Reflex can be activated by sudden changes in their environment, such as noise, light, and touch.
Swaddling helps to restrict your baby’s movement, keeping their limbs from flailing when the Moro Reflex is activated, and helping keep them asleep.
- Lessens anxiety: Swaddling not only helps your baby feel secure, but it can also help reduce their anxiety (6).
4. Try a lullaby or book
Reading a story or singing to your baby is a great addition to your nighttime routine, and can also help your baby to fall asleep after you’ve placed them in their crib. Remember, you’re ideally putting your baby into their bassinet while they’re drowsy, but still awake.
When you place your baby into their crib they may realize you’re no longer holding them — this is where reading or singing can help. By allowing your baby to hear your voice you’re letting them know you’re still close by.
Try using a lullaby or story that’s calm, low-toned, and soothing. You can also try white noise machines, not only to help your baby fall asleep faster but to keep them asleep longer throughout the night (7).
Key Bassinet Safety Rules
All of the tips mentioned above can help your baby to fall asleep, and stay asleep, in their bassinet. Still, you want to ensure you’re putting your baby to sleep in the safest way possible.
Remember that the safest bassinet for your baby is a bare one. Other than the blanket they’re swaddled in, and possibly a pacifier, your baby does not need any extras in their crib. Loose blankets, extra pillows, and even stuffed animals can all pose suffocation risks.
If your baby likes to sleep on their stomach, or are suffering from acid reflux, you might be tempted to use a sleep positioner — a device that either keeps your baby sleeping on their back or at an angle as they sleep.
Back positioners are always a solid no when it comes to sleep safety because when your baby can roll over onto their side, the positioner becomes a suffocation risk. This takes away every benefit the product claims to have for your child.
It’s also important to remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics has never cleared a sleep positioner as safe for an infant (8).
Wedges used to help with acid reflux are also often not safe for your baby because most of them are meant to go on top of your baby’s crib or bassinet mattress, causing the same hazards that sleep positioners do.
If you want to help your baby to sleep at an angle to help with reflux, try propping their mattress up by placing a positioner, towels, or even blankets under the mattress. This keeps them from being a suffocation risk.
The Bassinet Bottom Line
It’s important your baby gets an adequate amount of sleep to help them grow and develop — but you need sleep too! That’s why sleeping in the bassinet is the safest and best option for both of you.
By trying things like creating a sleep routine, rocking them to sleep, and following safety rules, you can help your little one adjust to sleeping close by without relying on you for comfort.