getting a baby to sleep in their cot

5 Tips to help get a baby to fall asleep in a cot

When a baby is inside the mothers womb, it is packed in tightly. It's warm in there, dark, noisy and the baby feels every movement its mother makes. So it's no surprise that many newborns are not fans of lying on their back in a bright, light moses basket or crib in complete silence.

So many parents hold their babies to comfort them to sleep. I don't see anything wrong with enjoying your newborn as they grow so quick. Though I have co-slept with both of my children occasionally, it is safer for a baby to be in their own cot, especially when parents are deep sleepers, smokers or may have had a drink.

Before we go any further it is worth mentioning that all babies are very different, this may be helpful to some and not so for others. Both of my children are very different, and with seven years between them I am very different to how I was with my first baby too. These tips and tricks have worked with both of my babies, who for the first 6 months of their lives were cuddled to sleep. The downside of this is that they wake up frequently throughout the night wondering where mummy has gone. Or if you're very unlucky, your baby might wake up the second you lay him or her in the cot.

1) Provide an alternative source of comfort

It might be worth considering providing an alternative source of comfort for your baby. This could be a dummy/pacifier, a special blanket, a soft toy or a lullaby. I have a soft toy that plays womb noises, a heartbeat or a lullaby. Don't expect your baby to bond instantly with this, they will eventually learn to associate it with sleep time and be comforted by it. Avoid noisy light show cot mobiles, could you fall asleep in a rave?

2) Commit yourself

If whilst you are trying to implement this you are thinking of the ironing, washing up or a TV show you want to watch, you are going to feel anxious and impatient. It will be a good idea to pick an evening where you can be completely free and bear in mind that this sleep training may take a few days before you see positive results. It will be worth it in the long run.

3) Know when your baby is tired 

You want bedtime to be when baby is tired but not overtired or this is going to make them feel really stressed out. So if your baby starts to rub their eyes, ears or buries his/her face into your chest then this might be a good bedtime. 

4) Establish a bedtime routine

This can be as simple as you like, but very soon your baby will associate these actions with bedtime. For us it is as simple as saying goodnight to daddy, up the stairs, say goodnight to big brother , into babies bedroom draw the curtains and switch the light off. This is the same every day. For you it could be say goodnight to teddy etc.

5) This is the tricky bit - stick at it

Lay your baby in the cot and give them their comforter, or turn on your lullaby. Your baby might scream and cry instantly or the might just look at you like you're crazy. You might want to sit on a chair or on the floor near their cot so they can see you. If they are really crying be confident in the fact that they are safe and will not be harmed. I'm not asking you to leave your baby to cry for long - I wouldn't do that myself. Set a cry limit, which could be 5 minutes to start, then you might wish to pick your baby up to reassure them. Lay them back down and repeat. It might take hours the first night, you might think it's not working, but it will work if you stick to it. You may eventually be able to comfort your baby by rubbing his/her back or letting them hold your hand whilst they are lying down. Try not to do this the whole time or it will be another hurdle to get over, but again set a cry limit. Eventually (hopefully) your baby will succumb to sleep and you can feel really pleased that they fell asleep in their cot without you holding them. If it took 4 hours, tomorrow it might take 3, or 2, or 1, or 10 minutes. But your baby will quickly learn if you don't give in to them. If you do give in and cuddle them to sleep you've lost the battle but only for another day, start again tomorrow and think about how nice it will be when your baby self soothes and falls asleep on their own.

Each night move further away from your baby, closer to the door. Make the room as dark as you can. Don't worry that your baby is scared of the dark, they are too young to understand and have nighttime fears.

If your baby wakes throughout the night, stick to the same routine. Don't switch the light on and silently give them the comforter or turn the lullaby on. Let them know that the new way to sleep is NOT on you! The only way to to this is to be consistent.

This will work quicker if you can apply the same routine to daytime naps. Finally good luck, this worked for both of my babies, I hope it will work for you.

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