How Can I Help My Baby Stay Asleep When I Put Them Down?

Making the transition of laying a sleeping baby down from your arms into the crib can be tricky, but experts provide some advice on making the switch.

Q: Our 1-Month-Old Baby Falls Asleep While Being Held but Cries Within Five Minutes of Being Put Down. What Can We Do?

A: You're not alone—what you describe is extremely common. Babies like yours tend to be particularly sensitive to the noises, lights, and other sensory stimulation around them. When your baby is in your arms, they are more protected from outside stimulation and less likely to wake up.

Being held also prevents babies from startling, a newborn reflex that causes their arms and legs to flail, which is another cause of wakening. Moreover, 1-month-olds are still adjusting to life outside the cozy womb. Being snuggled in your arms is much more like being nestled in your belly than sleeping alone in the crib.

The first step to getting your child to sleep is to carefully watch for signs of fatigue and to put them down at that time. Many parents decide to keep their baby awake and play longer, hoping then they will get really tired and fall into a deep sleep—that's a big mistake. Children who are overtired actually have a harder time getting and staying asleep.

Next, if your child is sleeping in a crib, try a bassinet, as it's cozier and more comforting for a tiny baby. Swaddling—wrapping baby up in a blanket like a burrito—is also soothing and prevents babies from startling.

Once you put your baby down, don't rescue them too quickly. If your baby awakens and cries, pat their tummy or talk soothingly before picking them up. If that doesn't work, it's okay to let your baby cry for five to 10 minutes to let off some steam and practice soothing herself (as long as you're sure there's nothing else bothering them, like a dirty diaper or being hungry).

If this fails, pick your baby up up, rock them, and then try to put them down again. While you soothe your baby, stay in their room but don't turn on the lights or talk to them, as this is likely to arouse them.

If these tricks don't work, don't worry. Many babies this age need to be held to fall asleep, and that's fine for now. After 4 months, your baby will be better able to soothe themselves, and you can train them to nod off on their own.

Answered by American Baby Team

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