Baby Won't Sleep in Bassinet? What to Do

Baby Won't Sleep in Bassinet? What to Do

Baby won’t sleep in their bassinet? Here’s all you need to know about why this might be happening and take you through what might help.
So you’ve got your newborn sleeping arrangement all set up — and now your baby won’t sleep in their bassinet?


Now what?

Don’t worry, mama. We’ve got you covered.

Getting a newborn to sleep exactly when and where you’d like them to is far from child’s play.

So the first thing to do is to be kind to yourself.

We’ll take you through the details of why your baby might not be sleeping in their bassinet and give you some solutions to try.

In this article: 📝

  • What exactly is a bassinet?
  • Is it normal for newborn to only sleep when held?
  • What do you do if baby won’t sleep in bassinet?
  • Why won’t my baby sleep in his bassinet during the day?

What exactly is a bassinet?

A bassinet can be a great asset to your newborn furniture collection, allowing your newborn to sleep safely and in close proximity to you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your baby sleep in the same room as you, but not the same bed, for the first six months of their life.

And a bassinet can help make this happen.

Bassinets are also usually quite portable, meaning you can have your napping baby near, both day and night.

Bassinets are designed with tiny babies in mind and are suitable from the beginning of their lives until they’re about four months old.

In the same family as a cradle, they are typically about the height of your waist so that you have easy access to your baby.

There’s usually a weight limit of about 20 lbs for bassinets, and they’re not a good idea once your baby has figured out the fine art of rolling over.

(You can check out the full guidelines on what makes for safe bassinets and cribs here.)

Next up: how to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet — and what might be stopping them.

Is it normal for newborn to only sleep when held?

Look, you’re pretty popular right now.

That little baby is seeking direct contact with you.

And the warmth and comfort of your arms provide a rather spectacular nap setting.

So if your newborn falls asleep right there in your embrace, that’s totally normal.

And don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong.

And now things get a little tricky.

If your newborn is asleep in your arms, there’s a chance that you may fall asleep too.

(We know, mama. That shut-eye is needed right now.)

To keep your little one safe while they sleep, the AAP recommends that your baby sleeps on their backs on a flat, firm, separate sleep surface.

So that means in a bassinet, play yard, or crib.

The surface of choice should be cleared of all clutter, like blankets and toys.

Bed-sharing (or sofa-sharing or chair-sharing) is controversial because it can lead to a baby being suffocated, strangled, or trapped, increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

That being said, some people believe there are benefits to having your little one right up close when you sleep.

It may help them fall asleep more easily and might even encourage breastfeeding by making it easier to do during the night.

Unfortunately, particularly when it comes to how the western bed is designed, the risks are still there.

So figuring out how to get them to sleep in their bassinet can be really useful.

What do you do if baby won’t sleep in bassinet?

There are many reasons your baby might not want to snooze in their bassinet.

We’ll take you through some of the possibilities:

They might be hungry.

Newborn babies need to eat often.

Those tiny stomachs don’t store too much and must be replenished frequently.

If your baby is going through a growth spurt, you may also be experiencing the joys of cluster feeding.

And while this can be exhausting, it’s actually your brainy little baby’s way of stimulating your milk supply to get them through a growing phase.

They could be going through a sleep regression.

If your baby suddenly has more trouble falling and staying asleep than before, it could be that they’re going through a sleep regression.

It’s common for these to occur during growth spurts, milestones, and because of teething.

The good news is they don’t last forever — typically about two to four weeks.

Sleep regressions happen at different times for different babies, but common times are around four months and again at about six months.

(And yep, they can occur at the same time as cluster feeding if they’re linked to a growth spurt. Breathe, mama. This too shall pass.)

They might be uncomfortable.

If babies are too hot or too cold, sleeping can be a challenge.

The AAP doesn’t give exact guidelines when it comes to the perfect temperature for your baby’s sleep space.

But if you’re looking for a ballpark here, the Sleep Foundation has reviewed various studies, including this one and this one.

Their findings?

A comfortable sleep space is somewhere between 61 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

But there are other reasons for potential discomfort — a number of which have to do with that developing digestive system in that little body.

Gassiness and full diapers can make sleeping a challenge.

Another culprit?


This stands for gastroesophageal reflux (basically heartburn and indigestion).

It’s very common in babies because their digestive tracts are still developing.

It’s often nothing to worry about.

But if they are unusually fussy, vomiting a lot, or refusing food, it’s worth checking in with your doctor.

This may be a sign that they’re developing gastroesophageal reflux disease.

And if they are having any trouble breathing or are turning blue, it’s important to get them medical attention immediately.

They might be sick.

If your baby has a cold or infection of some sort, it could affect their sleep.

Their immune systems are still developing, so babies can get sick easily.

Always check in with a healthcare provider if you’re concerned.

Babies younger than three months with any sort of fever should get to a doctor.

And if you notice any serious changes to appetite or behavior, it’s best to check in as soon as you can.

They might be waking themselves up.

Heard of the startle reflex?

Also called the Moro reflex, it’s a response to your baby being alarmed by sound or movement — sometimes their own.

They throw back their heads and extend their limbs out, and then pull everything back in.

And all of this often makes them cry.

Don’t worry — it’s perfectly natural, and they’ll get over it, usually at around two months old.

Swaddling can help. We’ll take you through the details here.

They might be used to sleeping in another place.

If they’re used to falling asleep in your arms, the car seat, or a sling, it can be difficult to persuade them otherwise.

One way to help is to put them down in their bassinet while they’re still drowsy — and before they actually fall asleep.

That way, they can start getting used to falling asleep in their bassinet on their own.

Why won’t my baby sleep in his bassinet during the day?

Newborns sleep anywhere from 14 to 17 hours a day — so naps are a big part of their life.

But what happens if napping in the bassinet is not to their liking?

It could be for any of the reasons that we’ve discussed, from startle reflexes to discomfort to habit.

But there may be other reasons at play.

One is that they’re overtired.

Yep, seems a bit backward, but babies that are sleep deprived are not too keen on sleeping.

Try putting them down a little earlier than you usually do.

Of course, it’s also equally likely that they’re not tired enough.

If your baby seems happy and playful and isn’t showing any sleepy signs — like yawning or rubbing their eyes — maybe push naptime back fifteen minutes or more.

It’s a delicate dance that you learn to do with your newborn, and figuring out the choreography is particularly challenging.

And just when you get into a routine , they reach a milestone, and you have to adjust again.


But know that this is not forever.

Sleep when you are able.

Call upon your community to help where you can.

And join us on Peanut.

This whole mamahood thing is so much more doable when we do it together.

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