How can you get your newborn to sleep in the bassinet instead of your arms? Here is your step-by-step guide on how to finally use that beautiful bassinet and rest your arms.

Having your baby sleep in your arms all curled up can be the best feeling in the world.

But weeks pass by, and you did not only take a million pictures of your baby sleeping in your arms, but you also developed Hulk-sized arms that hurt from still holding that baby while they sleep.

As beautiful as contact napping can be, it can also be exhausting. Maybe you feel a little bit like you are held captive. Maybe you think about how you just don't get to do anything else. Maybe you feel like you are holding this baby 24-7.

If that's all you, you might need a break.

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No matter how often you tried to get your newborn to sleep in the bassinet, it never worked. But the truth is that it doesn't have to be so complicated.

So let's explore why your newborn won't sleep in the bassinet and what you can do about it.

This article covers:

6 Reasons Why Your Newborn Won't Sleep In The Bassinet


Babies, especially newborns, seek comfort in their parent's arms. There is simply no denying that your little one feels more comfortable in your arms than in the crib.

Tummy Troubles

Tummy troubles are not uncommon in newborns and young babies. Their digestive system is not fully developed, and their stomach needs to get used to processing food. Sometimes babies will also suffer from trapped air in the stomach. When they lie on their back, they have difficulty releasing the trapped air. However, when they sleep, for example, on your chest curled up, the pressure against their tummy helps them release pressure.


Reflux can be another cause for babies not wanting to sleep on their backs. If your baby has reflux or is spitting up a lot, they can feel uncomfortable lying down when they just recently had a feed. Holding them upright as they sleep makes them much more comfortable because their stomach content doesn't come up again.

Not Used To The Crib

This is the most common reason why your newborn won't sleep in the crib. But instead of saying that your baby has created a habit of sleeping in your arms, I would rather say that they are simply not used to sleeping in the crib. A newborn baby cannot create a habit in such a short amount of time. But after being in your comfy womb for 9 months, it is just natural that they want to sleep in your arms. They are unfamiliar with the bassinet and need time to get used to it.

Related Article: Why Does My Baby Wake When I Put Them Down?

Startle Reflex

All newborn babies have the Startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex. The reflex causes your baby to suddenly extend their arms and legs as an involuntary response to sudden noises or movements. When your baby is sleeping in the crib unswaddled, they will wake up from this reflex much easier than when sleeping in your arms.


Overstimulation can be a thing for newborn babies, especially when they are sensitive. Young babies until 4 months can easily get overtired. Learning your baby's tired signs and the appropriate wake windows will help you determine if your baby is ready to sleep.

However, overtiredness is a rare cause why your baby won't sleep in their bassinet. But it's still worth keeping an eye on those sleepy cues.

Reasons Why You Should Put Your Baby Into The Bassinet

1. Because you want to and are ready.

2. Because you want to and are ready.

3. Because you want to and are ready.

There is often a lot of pressure on parents to get their baby to sleep in the bassinet or crib if they want them to "learn" to sleep. But even without any intervention, your baby will sleep eventually. They will fall asleep on their own, they will sleep through the night, and they will sleep in their bed.

It's all a question of what you want as a family. If bed-sharing and co-sleeping feel right for you and you get most sleep like this, then there is no need to change it. If done right, co-sleeping and contact napping is safe.

But if you are at a place where you are ready for a change, then you can help your baby along to get used to sleeping in the crib.

Setting Your Expectations Right

Before we start to figure out how we can make your bub sleep in their bassinet, we need to talk about our expectations as parents. And we surely have a lot once we enter the world of parenthood.

Now, not everything might turn out as we thought it would. I mean, we are advertised super cute babies sleeping peacefully in a beautiful crib only to have a completely different reality.

But the actual reality looks like this: Most babies prefer to sleep in their parent's arms instead of the crib. So I need you to tell yourself that your baby is not different from other babies. There might be unicorns amongst them, who prefer to sleep by themselves, but I can guarantee you they are a little minority.

So whenever your baby is showing a sleep behavior where they are expressing their need for your closeness, I want you to remind yourself that it's normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to accept everything as it is, but setting your expectations right about your baby's sleep will help you during the process. And if it doesn't work right away, don't be desperate. Changes deserve their time.

Setting Up A Safe Sleep Environment

Setting up a safe sleep space for your baby is the first thing you need to do.

Use a firm mattress and make sure your baby's sleep surface is empty. Don't use sleep positioners, pillows, or blankets in an attempt to make it extra comfy. Your baby should also be placed on their back to sleep.

Your baby doesn't always have to sleep in their bassinet to get them used to it, so also prepare everything for safe sleep if you continue contact napping or bed sharing.

Solutions to Get Your Baby To Sleep In The Bassinet

Step 1: Set Up The Room

Besides setting up a safe sleep space you should also create one that your baby recognizes. Use black-out curtains to keep it dark and white noise to mask out outside noises. If you are still contact napping, have your naps in the same room so they get used to their new environmental cues.

Step 2: Use A Swaddle Or A Sleep Sack

A swaddle can be a great way to make your baby feel cozy and snuggled. It also helps with the Moro reflex that causes your baby to have sudden moves.

Only use swaddling as long as it's safe. If your baby starts to turn from back to stomach, you need to stop swaddling.

If you have an older baby, you can use a sleep sack. You can better control their body temperature, and the restricted leg movement makes them feel comfortable.

Related Article: Ultimate Newborn Sleep Tips That Are Super Easy To Implement

Step 3: Offer A Feed

Having a baby sleep 2 hours in a bassinet is a long time to go without a  milk feed. Your baby's stomach is still very small and needs regular feeds.

Offer a feed 15-20 minutes before you get your baby to sleep. Burp them thoroughly so they don't have any trapped air once they fall asleep.

If your baby has reflux or tummy troubles, get them to sleep in an upright position, for example, by holding them upright with their tummy against your chest. Slightly bouncing up and down on a yoga ball can also help your baby get rid of any extra air.

It's ok to help your baby fall asleep like this. Wait for about 20 minutes until they are in deep sleep, then put them down in the bassinet.

Step 4: Try Once A Day Every Day

If you want your baby to get used to the bassinet they need to sleep there regularly. You don't have to get your baby to sleep in the bassinet every time they nap. Once a day will be enough in the beginning.

Start with naps instead of bedtime. The morning nap is a good start because sleep pressure is still high, and this nap is the easiest to achieve. Also, if your baby loses sleep, they can still catch up during the rest of the day.

Step 5: If Baby Wakes Resettle

There is a big chance that in the beginning, your baby will wake up or only cat nap in the crib. In that case, you can try two things: you either try to get them back to sleep by rocking, etc., and place them back in the crib, or you continue with a contact nap.

Even if they only slept in the bassinet for the first sleep cycle, it is already a step forward. And your baby knows it.

You can also check out this article about lengthening your baby's nap with the Wake-to-Sleep method.

Related Article: The Wake To Sleep Method Explained - A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 6: Start With A Nap Routine

Start with a very short and simple nap and bedtime routine. It will help your baby prepare for sleep. There is no need to make a big deal out of it at this young age.

Change the diaper, offer a feed, and get your baby to sleep the usual way. Repeating this behavior will make your baby realize it's time for sleep.


Does my baby have to fall asleep in the bassinet?

Your baby does NOT have to fall asleep in the bassinet to get them to sleep there. I know that many sleep trainers will tell you that, but your baby will be able to sleep in the bassinet even if you help them fall asleep. The key is to get them used to sleeping in the crib.

How well will this work?

Ok, let's be honest. The first attempts will probably fail. You might end up getting your baby to sleep, putting them in the crib, and they will either wake up straight away or in 20-25 minutes. Don't get discouraged by that. Change takes time. The important thing is not to get obsessed or stressed out. By trying once a day, you are already making progress, even if it doesn't feel like that immediately.

How long will it take until my baby finally sleeps in the bassinet?

You cannot put a fixed timestamp on a baby. Every baby is different. If you have a more easy-going baby, your baby falls asleep quite fast or uses a pacifier, then you might see first success within 1-2 weeks.

If your baby is more sensitive or takes time to fall asleep, it might take a little longer. I would at least try for a month. I know it sounds like a long time, but there are hopefully many more months to come in which your baby will sleep in their bassinet.

Do I have to let my baby cry so that they will sleep in the bassinet?

I don't believe you have to use a sleep training method like CIO or let your baby cry to get them to sleep. A baby that is crying is expressing a need, and I believe that every parent has the urge to respond to their baby's cries.

Sometimes when we change things up, our babies respond with crying or fussing. Whether it is getting them to sleep in their own sleep space or weaning from feeding to sleep, they can and are allowed to show that they are confused or don't initially like what's happening. You are still allowed to make changes when the current way of sleeping does not work for you. You just have to accompany your baby through their big emotions. Staying with them and comforting them is not the same as leaving them alone to cry.

What if my newborn STILL won't sleep in the bassinet?

Newborn sleep is something that cannot be fully controlled. It may be possible to lead it in certain ways, but things like temperament cannot be changed. Every baby is ready for independent sleep at a different time.

With that said, it doesn't mean you have to wait it out. If your baby is still not sleeping in the bassinet at all or you don't see any progress, I recommend taking a break.

As parents, we often get kind of sucked up in a behavior that our baby is showing (for example, not sleeping in the crib), and we start to obsess about it, or it makes us anxious. We might start negative talk like "my baby will never sleep in the bassinet" and already predict or manifest a negative outcome, for which there is no guarantee why the way.

If you are at such a point, it is important to ground yourself, take a step back and look for solutions that make your current situation better. For example, use a carrier to have your hand free while your baby is napping. Prepare everything for contact naps, starting from wireless headphones to snacks. Give yourself a break and engage in more me-time.

Once you feel that the pressure is off, you can try again.


The newborn phase can indeed be a wild ride. But I want to remind you that your baby is still very young, and you have a lot of time to change things. Don't be pressured into having a baby that only sleeps in the crib. They are still adjusting to the big wild world, so it might take a little bit of time for them to figure out how to sleep in the bassinet.