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What to Do When Your Baby Won't Sleep in the Bassinet

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
Updated
If your baby won't sleep in their bassinet, here are some strategies you can try.

If you’re currently struggling to get your baby to sleep in their bassinet, don’t lose hope — it can be done!

Here are some tips and ticks to get your baby to sleep in their bassinet, and you will finally be able to catch some sleep of your own.


How To Get Your Baby To Sleep In Their Bassinet

So you’ve bought your baby the best 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 (1).

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:

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 (2).

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.

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. 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 (3).

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 (4).

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 swaddle blanket, 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.

Sleep Positioners

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 (5).

Sleep Wedges

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.


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.

Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran board-certified pediatrician with three decades of experience, including 19 years of direct patient clinical care. She currently serves as a medical consultant, where she works with multiple projects and clients in the area of pediatrics, with an emphasis on children and adolescents with special needs.