For some reason, our baby fights sleep, especially in the crib or bassinet.  The only place that isn’t problematic is the cradle swing, and the only time things go smoothly is after a late-night feeding.  How should we handle this?


Getting a newborn to sleep can be a real challenge.  That’s because a baby’s sleep cycle is very different from that of an older child or an adult.  As you’re discovering, the crazy hours and constant crying can wreak havoc in the lives of new parents. 

You mention that your child has trouble sleeping in the crib or bassinet.  You didn’t describe your bedtime routine in detail, but depending on her age, you may want to avoid putting her down while still awake.  That may be a useful strategy in the case of older babies and toddlers, but it isn’t going to be effective with a newborn.  There is nothing wrong with rocking or nursing your baby to sleep and then gently placing her in the crib.  As a matter of fact, most infants need to be soothed to sleep, and you and your husband have been given the job of serving as your child’s “soothing mechanism” for the next few months.  By the way, you should be thankful that she is able to fall asleep in the cradle swing.  That gives you an advantage some moms and dads don’t have. 


Many new parents want to know how long they should let an infant cry.  Some worry that the child will develop bad habits if they pick her up too soon or too often.  Again, we’re not sure of the exact age of your child, but as a general rule you can’t possibly hold, cuddle, or soothe a newborn too much.  As your baby grows older you’ll want to let her cry a bit more and learn to fall asleep on her own, but depending on your situation that time may still be several months away.  Soon you’ll be able to recognize that she has different cries to let you know when she’s hungry, tired, wet, or just plain cranky.  


For more information, we highly recommend a wonderful book put together by Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council entitled The Complete Book of Baby and Child Care.  It’s available at our office.  To order a copy, please contact us.

Copyright © 2010, Focus on the Family. Used by permission.

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