Why won’t my 3 week old sleep in the cot?

Well, the cot is a long way from being anything like the lovely place she had prior to the last 3 weeks.

Well, compared to the wonderfully safe and warm place she was curled up in three weeks ago, the cot is a cold and scary thing. She was tightly contained in the womb, and now she's expected to sleep flat on her back, in a cot without your warmth, movement and comforting sounds.

So, I think the question is, "How do I help my baby adjust to sleeping out of the womb?" The answer is...

Little by little

Offer small and supported experiences in the cot to start. Try lying your baby in her cot with your hands over her and with very gentle rocking. Some quiet white noise in the background might help as well.

Don’t expect your baby to be skilled at sleeping in a cot straight away. Most likely, she will only go down in the cot when she's fast asleep.  You can then progress to putting her down when drowsy, and eventually you'll be able to put her into the cot while still awake.

It will all take time, so be realistic because this is something new for her. So offer opportunities to settle in the cot, but be ready for them not to work. If she becomes distressed, pick your baby up for a cuddle, calm her and try again. Only try two or three times at first, and do each sleep for several days to you give your baby time to adjust to the new experience.

Don't let them cry it out

If someone tells you to let them cry so they learn, just remember your baby has a very limited ability to soothe and calm down alone, so leaving het to cry may well end in quiet, and even sleep, buy not because your baby has adjusted and learned how. Rather, if your baby sleeps after 'crying it out', it's because she has fallen asleep exhausted.

Get more baby sleep tips, including step-by-step guides for settling your baby and getting them off to sleep in Helen's book.


Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.


Why do I feel so helpless when my baby cries?

There are few things on this earth like a baby’s cry. It triggers an intense need to act, to do something.

When our own baby cries, we feel we should be able to help. But what if the baby keeps crying? We initially feel helpless and often frustrated, and sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the crying and our inability to help our baby.

As caregivers, we are connected to our baby’s feelings and often it's hard to separate them out, but your baby needs you to help them calm down.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask someone to help. If you have no one around, get the pram out and go for a walk. Take long slow breaths because your baby needs you to calm down first. 

Babies do not mean to make life hard, so don’t plead with them to stop crying. Rather, have a think about a time when you were distressed - now remove your sense of reason and that's what a baby is feeling - overwhelmed and unable to calm down.

Babies need someone to hold them. They need a warm, calm and comforting body. Babies need the environment to be manageable before they can calm down.

Overtime you will become more skilled at calming and understanding your baby’s behaviours. But in the meantime, be kind to your baby and yourself. 

Got more questions? Book an appointment to speak with one of our baby specialists.


Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.


Is it ok to let babies cry?

"I am told babies cry a lot during the first few months, and that it's okay to just let them cry."

The actual reason babies cry is not always known, but it is a form of communication and by responding to the communication of the baby, we teach them that we are both there for them, and together things can be manageable.

More on why babies cry and what to do.

The research

There has been considerable work done on the somatic memory, by S. Porges. In essence, his work reveals that the nervous system has a type of memory, and that when a particular set of experiences occur, the nervous system is aroused. As these events happen more often, the nervous systems rapidly jumps into action because it knows what to do.

Therefore, when a baby cries, they're also learning how to behave and what to expect in response. If their cries are met with care and reassurance, they learn to associate distress with calmness.

In brief, if you comfort your baby when they cry, you calm their nervous system and they learn to settle. So next time, when there are events that would have previously caused great distress, you're baby might not cry. 

Got more questions? Book an appointment to speak with one of our baby specialists.


Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.


Should I let my baby cry to sleep?

"Some say I should just let my baby cry to sleep because it’s good for him and helps him learn to sleep. They say all this cuddling and doing everything for him will not help him learn."

You would be so surprised at the number of people who say that.

What the research says

The research is very clear. A baby who has their physical and emotional needs met will learn self regulation over time. If you look at your baby and see they are struggling, the best thing you can do is reassure them that you're there to help. 

You can start with a comforting word to let them know you're near by. If that doesn’t calm them, then you offer more, maybe some gentle patting. And if more is needed, a cuddle or a feed... Whatever it takes to help calm them.

You won't spoil them

This approach is definitely not spoiling your baby. This is called 'synchronous care', and we know it's what helps babies develop a sense of the world as a safe place. This is best gift you can give your little baby. Once they feel safe and confident, they won’t need to stress every time they have a bubble of wind. And you will start to get more sleep overnight. 

Be kind to your baby, and kind to yourself. Do what feels right for you both.