Best Advice for Parents when Newborn Won’t Sleep in Crib

Are you in the situation where you wonder why your newborn won’t sleep in crib?

At last, your much-anticipated bundle of joy has arrived. You already figured that your little one would get her days and nights mixed up. What you didn’t count was her immediate dislike for her crib.

So what’s a tired mom to do in this situation?

We’ll explore possible explanations why your newborn won’t sleep in crib. Then, we’ll look at the solutions, including some alternatives to using a crib…during the first few weeks, that is. Soon enough, you’ll be able to catch that much-needed snooze.

Reasons that explain why newborn won’t sleep in crib

Understanding why your newborn won’t sleep in crib can not only help you create solutions, but also develop patience. Here are some reasons why newborns have a hard time adjusting to the crib:

  • Unfamiliar territory: your womb was a warmer and snugger environment; the crib, though, is bigger and allows your baby to move those arms and legs wherever. To a newborn, this just isn’t natural!
  • Mommy preference: your arms and/or the carrier are a lot more snuggly than the flat, wide-open crib; this goes back the womb concept.
  • Nourishment: a newborn, on average, eats every 3 to 4 hours because their tummies are so small and hold very little; if your baby sleeps for longer periods of time, then you need to wake him or her up to eat.
  • Temperature: a cold mattress that’s covered by a cold sheet is not very comfortable again, think about the baby’s previous environment and compare the two.

Ultimately, you’re looking at least a 3-week wait before your baby adjusts to the nursery. Still, there are ideas to make wait time pass by more easily while getting a bit of rest.

Some Items You Might Need 

Depending on which method you’re planning on trying, you will any one of the following items:

  • A Large towel or blanket and your dryer for warming either of these items.
  • You will understand the need for a large towel or blanket later in this article, but a good alternative is a small heating pad or a hot water bottle. (Just to ease your curiosity, this is for the mattress.)
  • Bassinet or a portable crib
  • A sleep positioner
  • Your baby’s safety carrier for the car (to be explained later)
  • A swivel chair
  • A side sleeper

Hints to Remedy the Situation

#1. Mattress Warming Method

This method solves the problem of the mattress being too cold. Your baby, as mentioned before, was accustomed to a warm environment. You will need to start this process about 35 to 45 minutes before you place your baby in the crib for the night.

  • ​Step 1: Take the large blanket or towel and put it in the dryer on a high temperature setting for about 20 minutes to warm up. Keep it in the dryer longer if necessary.
  • Step 2: Once the blanket or towel is warm enough, spread it out over the mattress in the crib. Wait for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Step 3: If the mattress no longer feels cold, then it’s ready for bedtime. Remember to remove the blanket or towel before putting your baby in the crib.

If the distance is too long between the nursery and the laundry room to where the towel won’t stay warm enough, then try placing a heating pad on a low setting for about 10 minutes or a hot water bottle. Be careful because these items take less time to warm up that mattress, and you definitely don’t want your baby to be uncomfortable.

#2. “Sleeper” Method

You might have heard of a sleeper. They resemble a mini-bassinette. If placed in the middle of the crib, it gives your baby the sense of being more snug and less out in the wide open space. This is due to the tubular horseshoe shaped enclosure. Here are instructions on how to use:

  • Step 1: Unfold the sleeper.
  • Step 2: Place in the middle of the crib. Some models come with a very dim night light at the head; so feel free to try it out.
  • Step 3: Step back and watch your baby snooze.

Granted, this contraption was designed for co-sleeping, but that exactly the safest option. It fits perfectly in the crib.

#3 “Mommy Memory” Method

This is the simplest method because your presence is a big source of comfort. Plus, going to sleep should be a relaxing, peaceful experience for your baby. This method serves as a start.

  • Step 1: Record yourself singing a lullaby to your baby. (Optional – not everyone sings.)
  • Step 2: Play the recording at a low volume but continuously after putting your baby to bed.
  • Step 3: Another suggestion is to place a breast pad off to the side in the crib.

These reminders let your baby know that you’re still around. Your scent or the sound of your voice are comforting when your newborn won’t sleep in crib.

#4 Car-Ride Method

Timing and care play major roles in this method.

  • Step 1: Secure your baby in the safety carrier in the backseat as normal.
  • Step 2: Take a short ride around the block or only go a mile or two. The movement will lull your baby to sleep.
  • Step 3: Once you arrive back home, very carefully take your baby out of the carrier and into the crib. Be very careful so as not to wake him or her up.

#5 Movement Method

This is has some similarities to the Car-Ride Method because the movement is what helps your newborn to fall asleep. This is where the swivel chair would be useful.

  • ​Step 1. If necessary, you can swaddle your baby since this adds a sense of security.
  • Step 2. After feeding, changing, burping, swaddling and other preparations, gently rock in your swivel chair while holding your baby. Talk or sing to your baby, especially if he or she finds this to be rather comforting. Remember that the whole bedtime routine should be peaceful.
  • Step 3. Once your baby is falling asleep, place him or her quietly in the crib.

Some Alternatives to Crib Sleeping

What if your newborn won’t sleep in crib even after trying “everything”? Well, there are the Plan B’s to fall back on. You simply need to be patient and flexible. You can try utilizing the following:

  • ​Same Room Sleeping (bassinet)
  • “Side-car” Sleeping


So I hope these tips help in your quest for some rest. Nonetheless, this situation is temporary as your baby learns the difference between night and day. In the end, consistency, patience, and some degree of flexibility are going to help establish a bedtime routine.

Do you have some tips of your own to share or any questions on what we’ve discussed? We’d love to share some more information with you.

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Sarah Palmer
Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!
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