Getting your baby to sleep in their bassinet can be, well, rough. Your baby very recently came from a place that was tight, dark, loud, and squishy...your womb! Which is not at all like a bassinet.
ALL three of my babies were colicky, and bassinet sleep was not a positive experience for us to begin with. My hope is that by providing some helpful steps for you to follow, you have more success than we did!
So, how can we help your little one come to terms with their new sleep space?
Here are five steps for you and your little one!
1. Give Yourself grace.
It’s important to recognize that your baby is new here and things are very different than where they came from. That in and of itself is a huge transition for them...and for you. There is a reason they call the first few months with a newborn the fourth trimester. Your baby is adapting to life outside the womb, and you might be adjusting to becoming a mom - either for the first time or by adding another to the family. It’s new! It’s a big deal!
Give yourself, and your baby, some extra grace. Accept that sometimes, sleeping in the bassinet will work, and other times, it won’t, and that’s okay. All you can do is try.
2. Set the stage for sleep - recreate the womb.
You’ll want to make sure you’re mimicking the womb as best, and as SAFE, as you can. Think - dark (use a blackout solution!), loud (use white noise!!), and tight (swaddle your baby).
I’m sure you’ve likely experienced that your baby LOVES to nap in your arms. Rightly so, as that’s the closest thing they’re going to get to the womb. Warm and squishy, right??
You know you can’t crawl into the bassinet with them, but you can help by making that little space smell like you. Sleep with an old t-shirt for a few nights and tightly wrap it around the bassinet mattress. When you lay your baby down on top, they’ll smell you, their favorite place in the world! You can also warm up the bassinet prior to your baby's sleep period. Warm towel from the dryer, or even a warm bean bag on the mattress will do the trick. **Always make sure to touch the mattress first prior to putting baby in, you want the mattress warm to touch but not hot.**
3. Practice makes perfect.
The more you can practice naps and nights in the bassinet, the better your baby will get at sleeping in there.
I’d recommend always practicing the first nap of the day there, as that’s the easiest one. The sleep pressure is the highest at that time, and is carried over from nighttime sleep, so you’ll likely have the most success with this nap. And if you don’t, try the next one. The more opportunities you can give, the better!
When you lay your baby down, there is a technique you can try that can help them stay settled. So you’ve gone through a quick nap routine, swaddled your baby, and they’re calm. Start by laying them down bottom to top - feet first, then torso, and finally, their head. Give them a few minutes and see what happens! You might be surprised that your little one drifts off to dreamland all on their own in the bassinet.
4. Try to settle crib side before resorting to picking up.
If your baby starts to fuss, attempt to settle them in the bassinet before you pick them back up. Offer a pacifier. Gently jiggle the mattress. Shush near your baby’s ear. If none of that is working, then you can pick them up to calm them and try again. If you’ve tried for a few minutes and it’s just not happening, that’s okay!
5. Don’t stress!
Contact naps are fine. Especially if at this age. If you’ve pulled out all the stops and the bassinet nap isn’t going to happen, move to a contact nap. Try again at the next nap or bedtime.
Before you know it, your baby will be too big for the bassinet and you’ll be moving them to a play yard or crib.
It goes fast, so enjoy it while it lasts, and remember, give yourself some grace. You’ve got this mama!
If you’d like some extra help with your newborn and helping them lay a healthy sleep foundation, I do offer a newborn class and newborn sleep plan with support from me. Head to my Prenatal and Newborn Services page to check it out!