Sleep might seem elusive when you're a new parent, but with consistency, you can have your baby sleeping soundly in a crib -- and possibly through the night -- so you can get some shut-eye. Getting your baby to sleep in a crib requires a comprehensive approach that includes nighttime rituals, creating the right sleeping conditions and ensuring safety. Knowing your baby is safe in his crib will help you sleep better, as well.
Establish a Routine
Your baby won't sleep on command or through the sheer force of your desperate desire. You need to condition your baby to sleep by creating the right signals. A nighttime routine can help you do that. For example, incorporate such things as nursing or feeding, cuddling, singing, rocking or reading. The key is to do the same thing each night just before bed. Your baby will start to associate this routine with sleep and be ready to be placed into his crib.
Calm Your Baby
Babies are learning a lot in their first year of life, and they may become overstimulated by it all, making it difficult to settle down for sleep. You may need to help calm your baby to get him ready for sleep. For example, prepare your baby for sleep by putting him in a baby carrier and pacing around the room. Other tactics for making your baby drowsy include dimming the lights, swaddling him or singing softly before placing him into the crib. White noise machines may also help. The key is to minimize distractions and anything that might be too stimulating.
Many babies are resistant to sleeping alone in a crib because they need Mom or Dad to soothe them to sleep, such as through feeding or rocking. To encourage self-soothing, put your baby into her crib while she is sleepy but still awake. Rub her tummy or sing softly while she drifts off to sleep. After she gets used to the routine, decrease the time for tummy rubbing or singing to get her used to sleeping in the crib alone. Your baby can also use a pacifier to self-soothe.
Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Avoid putting items such as blankets or lovies into the crib as these can pose a suffocation or strangulation hazard. Instead, focus on creating a more comfortable environment by dressing your baby in long clothes to stay warm and swaddling him to make him feel more secure. Sleep with his pajamas the night before he wears them so the sleepwear absorbs your scent, which may comfort your baby when he is in his crib at night.