What to Do When Baby Won’t Sleep in Crib What to Do When Baby Won’t Sleep in Crib
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What to Do When Baby Won’t Sleep in Crib

By Pehr
Mar 03, 2023  •  Last Modified Sep 15, 2023

Some newborns will sleep anywhere but in their crib. It’s not uncommon that babies prefer to drift off in their stroller during a peaceful walk, in their car seat while driving or while they lie in their parent's arms. So, you certainly aren’t the first mom or dad to wonder why baby won’t sleep in crib. It’s a common problem and there are lots of different techniques to help your little one sleep peacefully and happily in their crib. Read on, so your arms can get some much-needed rest!

Table of Contents

  1. Why won’t my baby sleep in their crib?
  2. What to do when baby won’t sleep in crib


baby teething ring in crib

Why won’t my baby sleep in their crib?

There are a few different reasons why your baby might be resisting sleeping in their crib. Most often, they have simply become used to falling asleep somewhere else. Whether it’s in your arms, in their car seat or in their stroller, your baby will often develop a preference for what’s  familiar to them. 

If, on the other hand, baby will not sleep in a crib anymore without explanation, there might be another factor at play. Here are a few reasons why your little one might suddenly start resisting sleep in their crib:

  • Teething. Babies can start to experience discomfort from teething as early as 3 - 4 months of age, although the first tooth doesn’t usually appear until 6 months. This can disrupt your little one’s sleep early on.
  • Growth spurt. Growth spurts, which increase your baby’s appetite, can also disrupt a sleep routine that was previously working well. 
  • Illness. Sudden fussiness at bedtime can also be a sign that your child is dealing with an illness or infection. Check for a fever or rash and speak to your pediatrician, if you’re concerned.  
  • Mobility. If your child has just reached a new milestone, like rolling over, they may be more interested in playing than getting to sleep. 
  • Sleep regressions. These are common at 4 months, 6 months, between 8 and 10 months and 12 months of age. If you’re noticing a resistance to sleep at these ages, a sleep regression may be the cause.
  • Change in routine. When you transition baby to their own room, go on vacation or change your little one’s sleep schedule, you may notice a sudden resistance to the crib. 


mother holding baby wearing sleep bag

What to do when baby won’t sleep in crib

Now that we know why your baby might be resisting sleeping in their crib, you’re probably wondering how to get baby to sleep in crib. It’s an important question to ask, because getting your little one to sleep in their crib is in everybody’s best interest. It’s exhausting for new parents, if their child won’t sleep without being held. Always being rocked to sleep will also hold your little one back from learning how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. 

What should you do, if your baby won’t sleep in their crib? Here are a few of our favorite tips:

  • Optimize the environment. Make sure your baby’s crib is a comfortable sleep environment. Often, we underestimate the impact things like light, noise and temperature can have on our sleep. Pick breathable, organic crib sheets or bedding for toddlers, drown out unwanted sounds with white noise and maintain an ideal temperature for your baby’s room.
  • Don’t keep your baby awake for too long. If they become overtired, they’ll be much fussier when you try to put them down for a nap. Wake windows are a helpful tool to prevent your baby from becoming overtired. With time, you’ll also learn the cues that your child is getting tired. Once you spot them, act quickly to get them down for a nap.
  • Start with naps. If an overnight sleep in the crib feels too daunting, start with something smaller like a nap. This way, your little one can practice sleeping in their crib and become more comfortable with the space before spending a longer stretch of time there. 
  • Get comfortable with the crib. Your child may need more time to get used to their crib or to develop the skills needed to fall asleep on their own. Start putting your baby down in their crib or bassinet before they fall asleep, so they don’t become accustomed to always falling asleep in your arms. Over time, it’ll become easier for your baby to fall asleep on their own. 


swaddles in baby crib


  • Prepare for sleep. A good night’s sleep starts in the morning. Make sure you have stimulating activities planned for your child throughout the day so, come nightfall, they are ready to snooze. 
  • Mimic your touch. Try to swaddle your little, before putting them down in their crib. This wrapping technique is soothing for a baby, as it mimics the feeling of being in the womb. As your child gets older, they can transition from the swaddle to a cozy sleep bag
  • Baby steps. You don’t have to take a cut-and-dry approach. If your newborn won’t settle in their crib without you, try some gentle touch. You can stroke their cheeks or place your hand on their stomach until they fall asleep. Over time, as they learn to self-soothe, you can gradually scale back. 
  • Ask for help. If things aren’t going as planned, call in some reinforcements! Book an appointment with your pediatrician, or talk to other parents about what worked for them. A great suggestion might be just the thing you need to get your little one’s sleep routine back on track. 
  • Be patient. Your newborn is learning to navigate a whole new world and it’s natural for them to gravitate toward what’s most familiar to them. It may take a few weeks or even months but, in time, the crib will become a comfy space where your child enjoys to snooze. Ride out the setbacks together and know that you’ll overcome them with time. 


baby on play pad wearing onesie

 We hope that you now have a better understanding of why your child is resisting sleep in their crib. Remember, it’s a common issue and you aren’t the first parent to encounter it. As you try different techniques, you’ll find what works best for you and your child, so everyone can get more rest. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When your little one is finally asleep in your arms, the last thing you want to do is risk waking them up during a rocky transition into their crib. Before you attempt this, make sure they’re deep sleep. Look for slow, deep breaths and then gently lift your baby’s arm. If they’re floppy and heavy, you’re ready to transition. Here are a few techniques to gently transfer your sleeping baby from your arms into their crib:
Slowly lower your baby so that their side touches the crib mattress first, then gently roll them onto their back.
Gently lower their legs and bum onto the crib mattress first, then gently lower their torso back.
Once your baby is on their back, softly place your hand on their stomach or chest and rest it there for a minute or two. This helps them feel safe, as they settle into the new position.

Most parents transition their newborns from the bassinet to the crib at around 3 - 6 months. If your little one is sleeping peacefully, there’s no need to rush the process, but you also don’t want to wait too long. The more comfortable your baby becomes in their bassinet, the more likely they are to resist the transition into a crib. You’ll also want to avoid transitioning during a time when there are other changes to your baby’s routine, like during a vacation or time change.

The Cry It Out (CIO) Method is a sleep training method that requires you to let your baby cry and fuss for a set period of time before you take any action to intervene and soothe them. It’s recommended that you wait until your baby is about 4 months of age, before trying out this method. There are both proponents and critics of the CIO Method. It can certainly work for some babies, but it may not be the best approach for others. When it comes to sleep training, it’s important to trust your parental instincts, try different methods and find what works best for you. Like so many things in parenting, there’s no one right way to sleep-train your little one.

Yes, you can stay in your baby’s room while they fall asleep. This is called the Camping Out Method and it’s a common sleep training technique. It’s used to help train your baby to fall asleep on their own, once they’ve reached about 6 months old. Some parents also use this approach for older children, when dealing with things like a fear of the dark. In the early stages of the Camping Out Method, parents will soothe their babies through touch. Gradually, they’ll reduce the amount of soothing time with gentle pats and strokes, so they can eventually fall asleep without them. The process normally takes around 3 weeks and it’s just one of many sleep training methods you can try. Don’t get discouraged, if it’s not the right fit for you and your baby. Finding the right sleep routine often takes some trial and error.

If your baby is lying awake in their crib but not crying, it’s perfectly fine to give them some alone time, as long as they seem content. It may even be a good opportunity for your child to learn how to self-soothe and get themselves back to sleep. However, if your baby is consistently resisting sleep or waking up too early, it could be a sign that their sleep schedule needs to change. It might be time to drop a nap or try a different bedtime.