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Help! My baby hates their crib!

How to teach your little one to love their sleep space without letting them cry it out.
Baby in a crib happy

Have you ever had this thought, "My baby just hates their crib!" Well let me tell you this-- you are in good company! I have parents tell me this weekly, especially with newborns! But think about something for a minute... Your baby just spent 9 months cozied up in your belly, being hugged from all sides, and now they are laying in a giant empty crib, expected to sleep on their own.

Now don't get me wrong! I am not anti-crib! I truly believe the crib is the safest sleep space for your baby. All I am saying is, it is going to take some practice and patience! Especially if your baby is older and they have gotten used to contact naps or naps in other spaces, it takes some time to break those habits and teach them to love their crib. But don't worry, they can and they will get there! Here are some things you can do to help:

  1. Create a Comforting Environment: Ensure that your baby's crib is a cozy and inviting space. Use soft, breathable bedding and a firm mattress to provide a comfortable sleeping surface. Consider incorporating familiar scents by wrapping their crib sheet around you for a while to transfer your scent, then putting it back on their mattress.

  2. Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Consistency is key when it comes to helping your baby adjust to their crib. Establish a predictable naptime and bedtime routine that signals to your baby that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This could include activities such as a gentle massage, bedtime story, or lullabies. The routine should end with a few "falling asleep cues" that will be there no matter what time of day/night it is, such as closing the blackout shades (start using these around 12 weeks), turning on the sound machine, and putting on the sleep sack/swaddle. By following the same routine every nap and night, your baby will learn to associate these cues with bedtime and feel more comfortable in their crib.

  3. Practice Practice Practice: Encourage your baby to spend time in their crib during the day to familiarize them with the space, and so that they can practice when you have more energy to support them. Aim for the first 2 naps of the day in the crib, then doing what you need to for the others to prevent them from becoming overtired. Remember, any practice is great practice! Even if they only slept 5 minutes in the crib, that was still 5 minutes of practice! The goal is to get them accustomed to the crib so they are comfortable to sleep well at night (and of course during the day too!)

  4. Be Patient and Persistent: It's important to approach the process of helping your baby love their crib with patience and persistence. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it may take time for your baby to fully embrace their crib. Be prepared for setbacks and be consistent in your approach, gently guiding your baby towards a positive association with their sleeping space. Remember that every baby is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts as a parent and adjust your approach as needed.

  5. Do your research: It is so important to know what is developmentally appropriate, what your child's sleep needs are, how to respond to wake ups, and more! Being well informed is the key to success. But don't worry, I can help with that! My course- Compassionate Sleep Training will teach you everything you need to know! You'll go through 4 modules which will cover the sleep science basics, how to set yourself up for success in the areas that are proven to greatly affect sleep, how to respond to wake ups and teach independent sleep, and how to master naps which will, in-turn, help with nights too! All in the most gentle, responsive way that is based on child development science and a secure attachment theory. Check it out!

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