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

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
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.

We’ve been there, and we know it can be done!

In this article, we’ll share our best tips and tricks to get your baby to sleep safely in their bassinet, so you can finally catch some sleep of your own.

Key Takeaways

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine with activities like bath time, quiet play, and swaddling to help your baby wind down.
  • Place your baby in the bassinet when they’re drowsy but still awake, teaching them to fall asleep independently.
  • Swaddle your baby for a secure feeling, reduced startle reflex, and lessened anxiety, promoting better sleep.
  • Use lullabies, stories, or white noise machines to soothe your baby while they’re in the bassinet, ensuring they know you’re close by.

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, like us, you’ve found yourself with a stubborn sleeper, we have a few tips that may help them adjust.

how to get baby to sleep in their bassinet

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 putting them to sleep in their bassinet an easier process.

2. Lay Your 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, they’re small enough to be swaddled.

Until your baby is rolling over, which can cause a suffocation risk, swaddling can help them for many reasons:

  • Feels secure: Swaddling helps your baby feel protected and secure like they did in the womb. This helps them to relax, fall asleep faster, and 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 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 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 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 pose suffocation risks.

Sleep Positioners

If your baby likes to sleep on their stomach or is suffering from acid reflux, you might be tempted to use a sleep positioner — a device that keeps your baby sleeping on their back or at an angle.

Back positioners are always a solid no for 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.

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

Your baby must get 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.

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.

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Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran licensed 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.