How to Get Baby to Sleep in Crib

Updated on March 06, 2009
C.L. asks from Philadelphia, PA
11 answers

I have a six (almost seventh month) old daughter and would like to get her to begin sleeping in her crib. She takes one good nap in the morning - about 45 mins. in her crib. Other than that - I rock her, she falls sound asleep, and she wakes up the instant I put her in the crib. I am not interested in "Ferberizing" her if I don't have to. I am aware of the method, realize it is not about just letting the baby cry - there is a method. She slept one night in her crib from about 10 until 5 am and I am not sure how/why that happened. I realize not sleeping much is part of having an infant and I have no problems with co-sleeping - as we have been doing it for 6 months. I want to have a little time to myself at night (and during the day) while she naps. I would like to try and avoid having her stay in our bed until she is three or four (or even older). I am working outside of the home and need sleep (let alone time with my husband). I guess this is sort of a rambling on as I have just spent an unsuccessful 45 mins. trying to get her to sleep in her crib. She fell sound asleep twice and woke up the second I put her down. Any advice would be helpful moms!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your great advice. I am going to try a combination of things - there are really some great tips here. I am not totally averse to Ferber - I've just heard if they get sick or are teething - you have to go through the whole routine again. I am a university teacher and have a somewhat flexible and changing schedule so it makes things difficult because sometimes I am here for bed time and sometimes not. My husband is also a teacher and spends many hours every night preparing his lectures for the next day. Night time is difficult for us. I need to see what works best wither her personality. On a side note - last night was our worst night ever since she was first born - up about every hour or so. She is sick and has lots of boogers. So I will wait until this passes and then try some of your great suggestions! Maybe we will get back into a better napping in the crib schedule and then transition to night time. Wish me luck!

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answers from Scranton on

I know it's tough, but it will happen. I don't know if this is a method, but it's what I could handle. I would put her in and same thing, she woke right up. I would let her cry 5 mins, then go in and hold her til she settled, but I would stand next to her crib (never did I sit down and rock her). Then put her in and left again, let her cry 6 mins, go in hold her... and so on and so on. Luckily I never got past 10 mins of letting her cry. I don't know how this compares to "methods" but it worked for us! Good luck!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Well, first of all, when she takes her nap, how do you get her in her crib? Can't you just do the same thing? If it works for nap, why not at night?
Second of all, the best advice anyone ever gave me regarding getting your infant to sleep by themselves is to NOT put them in the crib asleep. They will never learn to self-soothe and calm themselves down enough to do it by themselves if they need you to fall asleep. Put her down in the crib drowsy but not asleep. Yes, she's going to cry at first. Just go in and reassure her and leave dispassionately. She wakes up and doesn't know how to fall back to sleep because she always has you to help her sleep. If she develops the skill to sleep by herself, when she wakes up, she'll be able to fall back to sleep by herself.
I'm not sure why you think the Ferber method is bad. We've done it and it's really not as bad as people make it out to be. It's one, maybe two longer nights, then you've licked it!! Our daughter is 2.5 and we still use the same reassuring techniques when she has trouble. Why not try it? Just don't give in when she cries, or it won't work! Get the book and actually read about the technique before you decide against it.



answers from Harrisburg on

How long has she been sleeping when you put her in the crib? With my first son we always rocked him to sleep and I usually waited about 5 minutes before putting him in. Of course, this only worked until he was about 18 months old and then he always woke when we put him in. Eventually (when he was 22 months) we put him into a big boy bed and would lay with him until he fell asleep and then slip out of the bed. I had to let my twins CIO because they are just 19 months younger than their older brother and I simply couldn't do this with them. If it makes any difference, it only took a couple of nights of crying when they were 5 months old and I think they cried a max of 15 min. each. Of course, I know every child is different. Good luck!



answers from Lancaster on

We just went through a similar experience. However, our daughter was sleeping in her crib, then suddenly started this pattern where she would scream the second her body touched the crib. She could be sound asleep in my arms, but the second I went to lay her down, she'd wake up frantic. This started around 6-7 months, the same time she was able to start sitting and crawling. I don't have a solution, but here is how we got out of it.

Don't pick her up immediately. I made this mistake for about a month. I would quickly snatch her back up to soothe her. Instead, rub her back to calm her. If she keeps pushing up, pick her back up (do not talk to her or make eye contact), rub her back, and lay her down again. Repeat this a few times if necessary. If it doesn't work, eventually you'll have to just leave the room. I am not a fan of crying it out, but I have to say in hind-sight, leaving the room is what works. If you feel the need, go back in a few minutes. Gradually work your way up to not going back and she'll get the idea. It will work faster than you think. Within a few days - not weeks.

If you don't do this now, you will have a 3 year old in your bed, and that's probably not something you want based on your note. Good luck!

Sorry, not familiar with Ferberizing. Not a fan of all of the books telling me the science of raising kids. Since when is it science?? Trust your gut!



answers from Pittsburgh on

If you don't want to Ferberize her (and I think it is a great solution, best thing we ever did, but that's up to you), you might check out E. Prantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. I call it "Ferber-lite." She agrees with Ferber that you should always put the baby to sleep drowsy but not asleep so they can fall asleep on their own. She differs from him in that she lets you pick up baby and put them back down over and over again, rather than the interval waiting and reassuance that Ferber recommends. IMHO, it takes forever, and would just be easier on everyone (including baby) to get it over with, but I know people who love Prantley as much as I love Ferber.

With anything you do there are going to be sleep disruptions with teething, illness, etc. I think the main thing is to find something that works for you and stick with it so baby knows what to expect. If you want to make a change, the sooner you do it the easier it will be. When they get to be toddlers they are much more set in their ways! :-)


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi C., Your best bet at this point is to really get Dad involved. Figure out a good solid bedtime routine that he can handle and let him go for it. Putting her down while she is awake and letting her fuss or play for a bit is fine. Teaching her independant sleep is one of the best life-long gifts you can give her. It won't happen over night, but it will work if you stick to it. For whatever reason my girls always went to bed with no problem for my hubby when they were little... but I could never get them to bed at night although naps were no problem. Don't be surprised if you have to leave the house and take a walk the first few nights of the new routine...and don't feel guilty!! Best wishes.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Everyone screws up the first child with sleeping. My husband was reluctant to use the cry it out method as well, so we did not sleep for 18 months. It was beyond awful -- we were both so sleep deprived, both working, then I got pregnant again -- I would say it was one of the worst time periods of my marriage. I was so desperate, unhappy, we were both alternately taking off out of frustration. (Never left the baby alone.) We were both yelling at each, saying things we never would normally...just awful. Fighting, fighting, fighting.

Once we let him cry in bed a bit, we got sleep. You are not allowing your child to learn how to soothe herself to sleep, so you will constantly be her crutch. My first born, although he sleeps now, still has a lot of sleep issues. You do her no favors in your fear to let her cry a bit before sleeping. My two year old, I still rock him and cuddle, I give him a song and some pats on the back, and he cries when I lay him down. I ignore it, he fusses for five minutes, then he goes to sleep. If I go back into that room because he is crying, I teach him that crying will always get me back in, and he should not then go to sleep, he should just keep crying, because eventually I'll come in. I know it's hard, I was tempted last night to give him more cuddles, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW BETTER, but then I thought, nope, he'll always want it, and we all lose, and I was right, he was sleeping in five minutes.

My cousin's wife was also reluctant, so my cousin made her leave while he did it one or two nights. Perhaps you need to leave the house while someone else does this.

Oh -- and once you let them into your bed at an older age, they are never coming out. Mine I let in if they've had a nightmare or aren't feeling well, but that's it. My aunt and uncle learned the hard way, that once you open that door, it is very hard to close. Six years old, kids still were sleeping in the bed.

You say you want sleep and time with your husband -- not happening if you have kids in there.

She's also only six months old, so be patient. Although most babies start sleeping longer through the night around that time, not all of them do.

Good luck. My prediction -- you will continue to try and get her gently to sleep without crying, it won't work, and as sleep deprivation robs you of your sanity, out of desperation, she will be allowed to cry before she goes to sleep. Been there, done that, my sympathies. There is one guarantee -- you have another one, you will have no trouble letting the child cry a bit before falling asleep.


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi C.,

I did the same with my son, but he was four months old. Once I realized it wasn't an issue to sleep in his crib at naptime, I transitioned him from our room (bassinet by our bed) to his own in the crib at night, too. I also read the Baby Whisperer and tried some of her suggestions. Here's what worked for us.

Routine! It takes some time to establish, but ours was bathtime (although not every night), massage with lotion or oil, jammies, storytime while nursing (2-3 books), and before I knew it, he was sleeping in my arms. I would wait until he had the "sleepy twitches" until I put him down. Occasionally, we'd have spells where he'd awake every time he hits the mattress, but it's usually when he's teething, overly tired, or is gassy; just not "himself" in general. These nights are still tough, even at 15 months, but typically he goes down at 8pm almost like clockwork every night.

Other things that help us, a dim nightlight, a humidifier or air purifier for white noise, and a very quiet nursery door. There's nothing like getting him down only to have the door creak, announcing your exit!!

Good luck, momma.



answers from Philadelphia on

I had a similar issue with my daughter as well. She would only sleep in our arms, her swing or her bouncy chair. We realized she slept the best in her bouncy chair, so we put her chair in the crib. Once she got used to sleeping in the chair in her crib, (it took a few days) we took the chair out and she has been fine in her crib since. I think the crib can be an overwhelming space for them so the chair helped her feel comfortable. I hope this was helpful.



answers from Allentown on

We couldn't use Ferber, either, and I DID read the book. (My daughter is one who can work up VERY quickly and will easily make herself vomit and can NOT be soothed, if left to cry for a few minutes...)

We used The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer - How To Calm Connect and Communicate with your Baby. (Available at the library) It's a quick and easy read and will give you some insight on your child's personality and sleep patterns.

Does she only take one 45 minute nap a day? Sounds like WAY too little sleep for a 6 month old. Resulting in an overtired baby at bedtime -- which is always much harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. With my daughter, at 2-3 months, I had to do the Pick Up, Put Down method (she would tolerate nothing else), and she's very strong-willed, so it took a couple of weeks for me, getting very little sleep. I was up & down a LOT, and I used the same method at nap times. She caught on pretty quickly, though and became a better sleeper (and one who now will just about ONLY sleep in her crib!)

Here's something else to consider: teething and illness. Teething and illness interfere with everything. At least, in my house, they sure do. Teething and head colds can make a baby so uncomfortable, and being held upright is sometimes the only way they CAN sleep. I've had nights of holding my daughter all night, too, when she was sick (pneumonia and ear infection). And, no, a crib wedge made no difference. She really needed to be upright to get some relief from the discomfort / to breathe.

In any case - do check out The Baby Whisperer. And, sure, read Ferber, if you want to. There's a lot of insight regarding sleep, in general -- and sleep related to babies/infants/toddlers that can help you see where you're going. Also, Ferber provides (in the most recent edition) alternative techniques for co-sleepers, so it's worth looking over.

Good luck to you. Whatever path you choose, it'll be a difficult adjustment, since she's already 6 months old, but the sooner you start working on the transition, the easier it'll be for everyone.



answers from Erie on

I'm with you. I'd do it just the way you're doing it, and ad a trick or two. One trick to is put your child in the blanket you would otherwise lay her on, a receiving blanket or something, and then when she's asleep, and you put her down, the little blanket she lays on is already nice and warm, and smells like you and her. That avoids the "THE COLD SHEET WOKE ME UP! syndrome.

#2 is to wait just a bit longer before you put her down in the crib. My sister taught me this one. Pick up one of her hands and see how it drops back down. If it's a controlled drop, slowly, with obvious muscle control, she's not fully asleep yet. If it falls with gravity to whatever position it lands in, you're done. She's gone for the night. By then, you can lay her down and she should stay asleep -- until maybe 5 a.m., but by then, it's not so bad to have baby join you for a couple of hours in bed.

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