Your baby is sleeping soundly against you with a look of absolute tranquility on that angelic face. Surely this must be an appropriate time to set them to rest? You move as gently as can be so as not to wake them. You get to the crib. You’re inches away from a successful mission. And then—in the plot twist of the century—your baby cries when put down.
We know. This isn’t easy. Whether you have a newborn or a toddler, the frustrations of bedtime can be real.
So why do babies cry when you put them down, and what can we do about it? Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- Why does my baby wake up every time I put her down?
- What should I do if my baby wants to be held all the time?
- Why does my baby scream when put down?
- How do I stop my baby from crying when put down?
Why does my baby wake up every time I put her down?
There’s no single answer to why babies cry when being put down. There are so many factors that come into play—one of the most significant of which is how long they’ve been on the planet.
Newborns spend about 50% of their time in REM—a sleep state that houses dreams and shows similar brain wave patterns to being fully awake.
As they shift from one phase of sleep to another, they might wake up or cry while still asleep.
They can shift between sleep stages multiple times even within one nap.
There are all kinds of theories out there about the “best” time to put your newborn down according to which sleep state they’re in.
Some people have luck holding their baby until they’re in a deeper stage of sleep and then putting them down.
But your baby’s sleep state can be hard to judge, and just when you think baby is deeply asleep and ready to be put in the crib, they transition back to REM and wake up as soon as they leave your arms. It’s tough, mama!
What should I do if my baby wants to be held all the time?
Look, you’re one popular person right now. Your baby wants to be as close to you as possible. And their little instincts on this are good.
But while there are few things sweeter than this, it comes with some interesting challenges.
Separation anxiety is real.
Basically, your baby doesn’t quite know that departures are not permanent. They really, really want to be near you, and are alert to your presence even while sleeping.
Plus, they are very sensitive to the smallest changes in temperature, even while they are asleep.
Transitioning from your warm arms to a cold, flat crib can instantly alert them to the fact that mom is putting them down and leaving the room.
Occasionally, warming up the crib with a heating pad (and removing it before putting baby down) can help with this.
And there are even more possibilities that might come into play. Let’s take a look.
Why does my baby scream when put down?
If your baby was previously easy to put down but is having a rough patch, or you have a baby that screams for hours everyday, you might be looking at some different issues:
- They could be going through a sleep regression. Sleep regressions happen when babies go through growth spurts and/or major developmental shifts. Common ages for this to happen are around four and seven months.
- It could be colic. If your baby is crying a lot, is particularly fussy, and/or difficult to soothe, they could be colicky. Colic is common and typically nothing to worry about—but if you are concerned, talk to your healthcare professional.
- They could be sick. If your baby has a temperature higher than 102 ℉, is showing signs of dehydration, or displaying any other symptoms you are worried about, check in with your doctor. Those little immune systems are still kicking into gear, making them more prone to infection and illness.
How do I stop my baby from crying when put down?
Knowing that all babies are different, here are some strategies you can take to help make putting them to rest a little easier.
We’ve broken it up by age group—but you may want to do a little mixing and matching depending on your specific circumstances.
What to do when your newborn cries when put down
If your newborn baby cries when put down, here are some options to try:
- Establish sleep patterns early on. As this long-term study of infant sleep revealed, sleep patterns generally start to set in from about the six-month mark. It helps to get into some sort of routine before this. If your baby has a predictable sleep routine, it might be easier to put them down in their crib.
- Swaddling for the win. Swaddling can give your baby a sense of comfort and security and prevent them from startling themselves awake as you lay them down on their back in the crib.
- Rocking to the beat. This study proved something that mamas throughout the ages have been keyed into—rocking your baby to music really helps to soothe them back to sleep. Add a swaddle to the mix and you’re headed for maximum baby chill. A more relaxed baby might transition to the crib more easily.
- Offer the boob or the bottle. Newborns eat as often as every two to four hours, and sometimes they can nurse for almost an hour at a time! You might think your baby is asleep, but just as you try to detach them from your body and put them in the crib, they start to cry because they’re still slowly finishing their meal. It might help to tickle your baby’s feet or blow on their face to keep them awake during feeds and make sure they get enough milk so that they’re more ready for a nap.
- Home baby spas are all the rage. Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? As it turns out, your baby might be a fan too. A baby massage can be a great way to soothe them, and you can do it while they’re in the crib to hopefully coax them into falling asleep and staying asleep there.
What to do when your 4-month-old baby cries when put down
- Reassure them every time you leave the room. What you do during the day can have a bearing on how things play out at night. If your little one is going through separation anxiety, the big challenge is letting them know that when you leave, you’re not going for good.
- Know that this too shall pass. If your baby is going through a sleep regression, know that this will not last forever. If they are going through a growth spurt, it may help to offer more feedings so they’re nice and full when you try to put them down.
What to do when your 7-month-old baby cries when put down
- Do nothing. We know. Crazy. But true. They may just settle without you doing very much at all. But this one’s tough. Our instincts are to go to our crying babies. Recent research into how our brains react when we hear their cries has reinforced this.
- Help them cut those teeth. Tooth pain might be the reason your baby is crying in their crib instead of falling asleep. If they’re drooling and biting a bit more than usual, this could be what’s up. Here are the symptoms to watch out for and what you can do to help them through this.
- Look after yourself through all of it. ❤️ You matter. It’s fine to reach out to others, to get support, to do this together. Let’s have the conversation. Join us on Peanut.
Good luck, mama.
More from The 411:
How to Calm a Crying Baby
Why Do Babies Cry? 12 Possible Reasons
10 Life-Changing Mom Hacks From Peanut Mamas
How to Handle Separation Anxiety in Babies
13 Pieces of Advice That New Moms Need to Hear
10 Wine-Free Ways to Practice Self-Care as a New Mom