Waking Up When Put in Crib
“Help! My baby is three weeks old and I’m having trouble putting him into his crib without waking him up. Even more frustrating is sometimes even when I’m successful at this, within a few minutes he’s awake and crying. What am I doing wrong?”Hang in there, Karyn! This is not your fault. Let me explain a few things to you, okay?
- Karyn from Orange County
Very young babies enter sleep directly into the REM sleep stage, which is lighter and more active than non-REM sleep. Because it’s easy to awaken from REM, a young baby who has just fallen asleep on your shoulder may wake up shortly after being put down in the bassinet. While in REM, a baby also has difficulty regulating his temperature. After getting warm and snuggly in your arms or while nursing, a baby may cool quickly when you put him down. The temperature change can also cause a premature waking. This can be frustrating for parents, but it helps to know that sleeping babies who don’t transfer easily into a crib are perfectly normal.
There are a few ways to help your baby make the transition from your arms into a crib. While soothing the baby, you can place a blanket between your body and the baby’s, so that it will grow warm from your body heat. Then, when you place the baby in the crib, leave the toasty blanket in with him. (Make sure that you are using a small, light blanket, such as a receiving blanket, that is safe for babies.) Maintain as much body contact with the sleeping baby as you can as you ease him into the crib. Leave your hands on him for a few moments to make the transition less abrupt. A fitted knit or flannel sheet and a blanket sleeper may also help keep him warm; newborns will probably like to be swaddled. Another trick I used in the very early months was to nurse my daughter while I was lying down, having spread out the baby’s blanket underneath her before we began. Once she fell asleep, I picked up the edges of the blanket, hammock-style, and was able to gently put her into her bassinet without jostling her floppy neck or other tiny body parts, and awakening her in the process. This method is particularly useful if your wrists are aching from holding the baby.