After 45 minutes of rocking, singing, and sighing, he’s finally stopped crying and you THINK *quick prayer* he’s asleep.
Well, here goes nothing.
Moving like a geriatric sloth, you inch over to the crib and stand on your tippy toes, leaning over the bars as much as possible.
You freeze. One leg in the air in an absurd pirouette.
Ever. So. CAREFULLY you set the tiny package into the crib, take a deep breath, and prepare to high five your mime-cheerleading spouse.
You grit your teeth and quickly pretend you didn’t (because “good parents” never feel frustrated at their helpless babe, right?).
This KID sleeps everywhere else.
WHAT THE WHAT is wrong with this kid?
Benedict Cumberbatch Solves the Mystery
You know who can fix this?
The world’s greatest Sherlock. (Sorry, Rob — but the world needs you as Iron Man.)
My good friend Benny would quickly deduce that your baby doesn’t hate the crib because the sheets are too scratchy. Or the mattress is too firm. Or because that crib set is hideous.
Instead, he would watch where and how your baby sleeps, and then figure out what it is about those positions that soothe so much. Then Sherlock would simply recreate those positions inside the crib. Elementary.
Following that lead, here are three reasons why your crib’s a Nuclear Zone:
- Your baby feels the wide open space is frightening. He prefers the close touch of your body against his skin.
- Your baby has acid reflux or colic and laying flat on his back kicks up the acid factory.
- Your baby hasn’t seen you as much recently and feels anxious when you’re not there.
Now that we have identified the reasons he hates it so much, *hat tip to Benedict* it’s time to reclassify that crib from Nuclear Zone to Nap Central.
*puts on thinking cap*
*blows feather out of face*
*flips on whale music*
*spray of confetti*
How to Solve the Wide Open Space Problem
Elena hated her crib. Screamed bloody murder every time we put her down. Until one day, in a moment of heavenly inspiration, I figured out why. She’s my cuddler. She had to be touched at all times. That was a problem, because my husband and I didn’t want co-sleeping to be a family tradition. So here’s what we did:
- Swaddled her tightly. She was a veritable Houdini at getting out of her swaddler, which was frustrating. In hindsight, this straight jacket zipped swaddler would have been perfect.
- Put her on her tummy. I know this isn’t recommended, but children sometimes don’t fit into the “should” molds, and a tired mother will try an-eee-thing. Nowadays, you can alleviate SIDS worries with an angelcare breathing monitor.
- Use a blanket against her cheek. You have to be careful with this one, since you shouldn’t have anything inside the crib in the first 6 months of life. We would tuck the blanket under the mattress, so just a teeny-tiny corner could touch her hands and cheek. That way she could feel enough of the cloth to snuggle with, but not accidentally cover her mouth.
One of the most likely culprits for SIDS is something called rebreathing. Since your newborn can’t turn his head away, any obstruction to his mouth will cause him to breathe in the air he just exhaled.
This is largely why it’s not recommend you put babies to sleep on their tummy, and why crib bumpers are usually frowned on. (I, however, am always the rebel, and think using crib bumpers is a smart sleeping strategy.)
How to Solve the Acid Factory Problem
Ever lay flat on your back with heartburn?
Let him sleep in a rock-n-play or swing.
Why wake a sleeping babe? He can sleep in a rock-n-play bassinet for up to 5 months if absolutely necessary. The sitting up position will help gravity keep the milk down.
Create a slanted seat in the crib.
How do you do this? By using a pillow, a handtowel, and some hair ties (or rubber bands).
You want a how-to picture?
It will cost you a Facebook Like.
Now that you’ve paid up, *ahem* follow these steps:
- Place a pillow in between the crib mattress and the wire springs, so the mattress is slightly inclined. (Slightly! We’re not building a ski ramp.)
- Roll up a hand bath towel the long way and secure the ends with hair ties.
- Slide the hand towel under the crib sheets and form a “U” shape.
- Place your baby’s bottom in the “U” like he’s sitting on a swing. This will keep him from sliding down the slight incline you have on the crib mattress.
Subscriber Lisa K., shared with me a product called “Snuggle Me”. It’s a fancier, more comprehensive way of doing what I just described. It’s brand-spankin’ new, so you’ll only find it here.
How to Solve the Missing Mom Problem
The third factor Sherlock uncovered was the “I miss my mom!” issue. Typically, this is seen after mom has gone back to work or had to be away for a few days, but some cuddlers used to being carried all day may feel this anxiety during naps and bedtime.
Stick Around a While
When you put your little one down in the crib, pull up a seat and sit next to him. Sing or hum, or stroke his hands through the crib slats. This will reassure him that you’re right there and not going anywhere.
Be prepared to do this a LOT at the beginning. Eventually, you can sit closer to the door…then in the hall…each step a reminder that you are still there, even when his eyes close.
This sleeping technique is called the Sleep Lady Shuffle, and it’s taken straight out of my favorite sleep coaching book.
You have a particular smell.
And your baby’s a bloodhound.
He’s tagged that smell as “you” and finds comfort breathing it in.
Take an old T-shirt and use the tuck-in-trick I shared earlier; tuck the T-shirt under the mattress, leaving just a tip close to your baby’s nose. This smell will comfort him and convince him you’re still there.
This “smells like Mama” technique only works with newborns. Older babies are brilliant enough to notice when you’re not in the room. *Homer: DOH!*
Deduce and Conquer
These have worked well for other moms. Test them for yourself, and then use your own Sherlock skills to create your own.
Over the next 24 hours, watch and consider how your baby is sleeping.
- Is he sleeping with pressure against his tummy, like in a sling or on your shoulder?
- Have you been gone a lot recently? Is there some separation anxiety kicking in?
- Does he prefer to sleep on his side? How can you safely recreate that?
Then manipulate the crib to recreate that environment for a satisfied snooze.
How does your baby like to sleep?