Baby Won’t Sleep in Crib

How do I transition my 4 month old to the crib? For his naps, he sleeps in his swing, and at night he sleeps with us in our bed. I have tried to put him down in his crib after he’s fallen asleep, but as soon as his head hits the mattress he starts crying and fussing.

He is going to be going into daycare soon, and his daycare provider says he needs to be able to fall asleep on his own as she doesn’t have time to rock him to sleep with 4 other kids needing attention.

I feel like he’s too young for the ‘cry it out’ method, but I don’t know what else to do. What should I do?

You need to begin consistently putting your baby to sleep in the same place, his crib. It will also help him if he has a bedtime routine so that it acts as a cue that it is time to go to sleep. It should be consistent for naps and settling at night and include a song, a story, and perhaps some massage to relax him.

It will not work to put him in his crib after he has fallen asleep. Not only does transferring him wake him up but also he needs to fall asleep in his crib so that if he wakes up at night, and all babies do, he recognizes where he is and can fall asleep again on his own.

You should not leave your baby to cry it out. He is too young for that approach. You can rock him or hold him until he is drowsy but not asleep and then put him in his crib so that he can fall asleep on his own. If he fusses, trying patting him in his crib or stroking his face. Do not make eye contact with him when trying to settle him.

You can pick him up and rock him if he gets really upset and then try settling him in his crib again when he calms down. Often it is better to have your partner help you with that, especially if you are breastfeeding the baby because he is used to smelling your milk and he is going to resist being settled away from you.

*Answers by sleep expert, Dr. Wendy Hall, PhD. Should you need individualized help or advice regarding your baby’s sleep, please consult an infant sleep consultant.