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.