Are you convinced your baby hates the crib? See why your baby might be protesting their crib and how you can help them sleep in it.

crying baby hates his crib

If it seems like your baby hates their crib, you aren’t the first parent I’ve heard say this.

I promise you it’s not that your baby hates the specific make or model of crib that you so lovingly picked out and assembled for them.

More than likely, something else is happening within your baby’s day that is making them scream when you try to put them in their crib for sleep time.

I’m here to help you troubleshoot why your baby may hate their crib and how you can help them sleep in it.

Want a realistic newborn sleep schedule? Download my free newborn sleep schedule to see what a day with your newborn might look like. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.

Do Some Babies Not Like Cribs?

While many babies are able to fairly easily adjust to sleeping in their own crib, there are some babies who don’t take to it as easily.

That’s especially true of babies who are used to sleeping on another surface, like in car seat during car rides or a stroller during naps.

Babies are born with their own unique temperament.

Some babies naturally adapt to change, including moving to a crib. An yet other babies are more sensitive to small changes and may resist the crib when you first try to introduce it.

Why Does My Baby Not Like the Crib?

It’s not that your baby hates the crib model or type that you purchased.

Getting a different crib won’t solve your problems.

It’s much more likely that your baby hates the crib due to them being unfamiliar with it or something else being off with their sleep schedule or wake windows.

See these reasons why it seems like your baby hates their crib and what you can do about it.

What to Do If Your Baby Hates the Crib

I’m sharing the most common reasons I’ve experienced for babies hating their cribs and what you can do about each situation.

baby hates crib graphic - because they're not familiar with it

1. Your Baby is Unfamiliar with Their Crib

If your baby is used to sleeping in your room in a bassinet, then the crib (and their bedroom) can be a big, scary place for them.

I never sleep well the first night in a new hotel room either.

If your baby isn’t used to their crib, then it’s an unfamiliar space to them and that can cause a bit of distress for your baby.

Solution for This

When you’re getting ready to transition your baby to a crib, start by having your baby spend awake time in the crib first.

You can play peek-a-boo with your baby while he is laying in his crib, do tummy time in there, or read them a story while they lay in the crib.

Help them get familiar with the crib first before trying to put them to sleep in it.

baby hates crib graphic - because they don't know how to sleep in it

2. Your Newborn Doesn’t Know How to Sleep in their Crib

If your newborn baby is used to falling asleep in other places (like a baby carrier, carseat, or even on you for contact naps), being set down flat on their back for long stretches might feel pretty foreign to them.

It might also be the case that your young baby has outgrown their bassinet, and you’re starting to make the transition to a crib from a bedside bassinet.

That transition can be bewildering, especially if their bassinet had all sort of built-in soothing tools (like white noise and movement).

Losing those bells and whistles and transitioning from a high-tech bassinet like the SNOO to a crib means your baby has to start relying on their own independent sleep techniques and self-soothing.

Solution for This

Use a technique such as The Soothing Ladder to help soothe your baby while he is lying in his crib.

Going through the steps of The Soothing Ladder allows you to be present and comforting to your baby, while still giving them the opportunity to fall asleep in their crib.

It may take some time to find what soothes them, but keep at it.

Baby hates crib due to overtired graphic

3. Your Baby is Overtired

Newborns can only stay awake for so long before they need sleep again. This is known as their newborn wake window and is only about 30–90 minutes.

Once your baby reaches that overtired phase, it’s going to be much harder to get them to sleep anywhere, let alone a crib.

Solution for This

Pay attention to your newborn’s wake windows as well as their sleep cues.

When you see the signs that your baby is sleepy, or the time on the clock is getting close, go ahead and get them ready for sleep time. If they go down for a nap or bed at the optimal time, they’re less likely to fight sleep.

baby hates crib graphic - baby isn't swaddled

4. You’re Not Swaddling Baby

The crib can be an awfully big space for your tiny human!

It may feel too big to them, especially since they are used to being curled up in your womb.

Solution for This

Swaddle your newborn before putting them down to sleep to make sure they stay warm and that their startle reflex (also known as the Moro Reflex) isn’t waking them up.

These are some of the best swaddles if you need recommendations.

If you have an older baby who has transitioned out of the swaddle, consider using a sleeping bag like a sleep sack to help keep your baby warm enough at night and keep a similar feeling of security that a swaddle can provide.

baby hates crib graphic - because they sense your anxiety

5. Your Baby Senses Your Anxiety Around the Crib

Babies can sense and mirror our emotions and stress as parents.

If you have anxiety about how your baby might react when you put them in their crib, it could become a self-fulfilling propehcy.

I used to get so nervous putting my newborn daughter to bed. In my experience as a sleep consultant, I’ve worked with so many mothers who really dread bedtime.

Solution for This

Know that you aren’t alone. Bedtime anxiety is real.

If you can, have your partner do bedtime while you go for a walk. Take care of yourself during the day leading up to bedtime, so you aren’t starting bedtime from a frazzled state.

baby hates crib due to reflux graphic

6. Your Baby Has Reflux

One situation where you may frequently have a crying baby on your hands when you set them down in their crib is when your baby suffers from acid reflux.

Reflux babies tend to be more comfortable sleeping in a more upright position because it eases their reflux symptoms. Hence the crying when they lay down in the crib.

Keep in mind that crying when laying down flat is only one of many symptoms of reflux. Check out my post on reflux to learn more about other signs, and whether or not to get your healthcare providers involved.

Solution for This

Talk to your baby’s pediatrician if you suspect your baby has reflux.

Separating feeds from sleep by at least 30 minutes and keeping your baby upright after feeds can also help your reflux baby sleep better.

Get Your Newborn to Sleep

newborn sleep program

Learn how to get your newborn to sleep with my Newborn Sleep Program. You’ll learn expert sleep tips for soothing your baby to sleep, getting in good routines, and slowly dropping night feeds. Learn more here.

baby hates crib graphic - uncomfortable baby

7. Your Baby is Uncomfortable

Before you fully attribute your baby’s crying to some sort of crib aversion, it’s important to determine whether their physical needs are fully met and figure out if they’re in any physical discomfort.

Your baby won’t be able to relax and slip into deep sleep unless they are fully fed, have had a diaper change, and aren’t already overtired.

Solution for This

Make sure you adjust your feeding schedule so that you are putting baby down to sleep with a full tummy. A hungry baby isn’t going to fall asleep easily or stay asleep long.

Being in their own room and their own bed also means your baby is potentially experiencing a different temperature climate than you are.

To avoid temperature discomfort, make sure you are dressing your baby for sleep appropriately in a swaddle (for young babies) or sleep sack (for older babies).

baby hates crib graphic - everything is new to baby

8. They Need A Little Help

Perhaps your baby just needs a little help getting to sleep. Newborn sleep is tough, especially nap time.

If your newborn is struggling to sleep in their crib, there could be so many different factors at play. But the most obvious one is simply that they are new to this world and need a little help getting to sleep in their crib.

Solution for This

Don’t stress if your newborn won’t sleep in their crib right off the bat. You can use the 5 S’s to help soothe your baby and then transfer them.

Alternatively, you can provide some crib-side comfort or reassurance.

If your baby is too young for sleep training, try the Shush Pat or Pick Up/Put Down method instead.

baby hates crib graphic - expectations are too high

9. You’re Expecting Too Much

It’s not realistic to expect your newborn to take every single nap in their crib.

Naps can be really challenging and 30-minute naps are super common for babies under 7 months.

If you’re expecting your baby to take every nap in their crib, you’re probably going to be in for a world of disappointment.

Solution for This

Start by getting your baby to sleep in their crib at night time. If that’s going well, you can also try to get the first nap of the day in the crib.

The morning nap is usually the easiest one to get babies to sleep. If you want to try for a nap in the crib, you’re most likely to have success with this nap.

baby hates crib due to going through a sleep regression graphic

10. They’re Going through A Sleep Regression

If your baby previously did fairly well in the crib, but now your baby hates the crib all of the sudden, it’s very possible that you could be dealing with a sleep regression.

There are plenty of common sleep regressions that can result in your baby protesting sleep. That includes a growth spurt fueled 6 month sleep regression, which often corresponds with the timing of the transition into your baby’s crib and own room.

Solution for This

Become familiar with the most common sleep regressions and why they happen. Sometimes you can prevent a regression by teaching your baby good sleep and giving them plenty of time during the day to practice their new skills.

Toddlers Who Hate Their Crib

Maybe you have a toddler who has started battling crib time and you’re feeling tempted to transition to a toddler bed.

I can assure you that you will want to avoid opening that can of worms until absolutely necessary!

Giving your toddler the freedom to climb out of bed whenever they please isn’t necessarily the best solution to them fighting sleep in the crib.

If your little one is either approaching toddlerhood (at 12 months old), or solidly in it (up to about 3 years old), I encourage you to wait to make the big kid bed transition. There’s a really good chance your toddler isn’t ready for a bed yet.

Your goal should be to wait to make this transition until your toddler is mature enough to handle the freedom that a big kid bed provides (which includes getting up and walking to mom and dad’s room whenever they feel like it!).

Instead, there are things you can do to try to keep them from climbing out of their crib. You can also use a toddler sleep training technique to get them comfortable sleeping in their crib again.

Amy Motroni
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