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My Baby will Not Sleep in her Bassinet

NBB Question from Jessica: My 10 week old daughter won’t sleep in her bassinet in the day time. She sleeps in a swing, pram, arms, car (sometimes) but won’t sleep in the bassinet. She does sleep in it at night. I feel like because she is only 10 weeks it is ok but…am I making it harder for myself for later on if I don’t persist with getting her to sleep in the bassinet in the day?

Given the choice, our babies would stay in our arms, day and night, for a very long time. It is just what they are designed to do. If we lived in other cultures, we would have them strapped on our backs or tummy’s and they would sleep blissfully for hours. Alas, here we are in the Western world, expecting our babies to be happy to sleep alone, in a place that is nothing like the womb.

A baby put into a bassinet, alone, on a flat, still surface may well reject the idea and opt for the comfort of arms and the connection with their parent. Babies are even comforted by the mere smell of their mother, so the isolation from all sensory stimuli can be overwhelming for them, or at least, not calming.

So there’s the reason, but what do you do?

It is often easier to just cuddle your baby at sleep times, especially if this is what you plan to do long term. However, if you are thinking you will be wanting to place your baby into the bassinet for day sleeps, then it might be a good plan to allow your baby repeated opportunities to get to know their bassinet. This doesn’t mean leaving baby there to cry, quite the opposite. Babies learn through repeated experiences; so for at least a couple sleeps per day, place your baby into her bassinet when she is drowsy, and don’t expect her to sleep! Expect that she will respond with a crying or restlessness, or just being wide awake. Each time, just place your hands over her little torso and chest and ever so lightly, rock her (just like a vibration) while you shh-shh her.

Different babies respond to different settling, but try just shh-ing or even talking quietly or singing. All of which activate pathways in babies’ brains to help them calm.

Your baby may like a dummy or a gentle head stroke. Whatever you think is good, do it for about 15 seconds, and then if it is not working, pick her up, calm her and try again.

Just do this a couple of times, then if she is not settling, pick her up and get her to sleep in your arms. Once she is fast asleep, try gently transferring her to her bassinet.

Small repetition of the events rather than long distress periods allow your baby the opportunity to adjust rather than expecting her to immediately calm; is more likely to help your little girl to adjust to her bassinet for sleep.

For further sleep advice see www.helenstevens.com.au. Wishing you patience as your baby progressively has the opportunity to adjust.

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