7 ways to make your baby feel at home in the crib

For your baby, nothing can be as comforting as being wrapped up in mama’s arms. And as a mother of a newborn, you feel that warmth too. But that often means that the struggle of making your little one sleep on the bed or in the crib is greater.

Babies just don’t seem to get any sleep away from their mother’s arms. They say that as a mum you should sleep when baby sleeps -that can be hard when baby sleeps only in your arms. Apart from this, holding the baby in your arms for long periods of time can later develop into back, neck, shoulder, and arm ache. It is important to make the transition from your arms to the crib but this transition period can be a nightmarish phase for mothers.

Crooning a lullaby and cradling the baby is not enough. You need to put in some extra efforts to make the baby feel as comfortable in the crib as in your arms. Difficult it may seem but certainly not impossible. Here are a few tricks and hacks that will come handy in helping your baby love the crib:

1. Swaddle the baby

The biggest reason a baby gets cranky during this transition phase is being deprived of the smell of the mother and the bodily warmth it gets. A newborn recognizes people through their smell. Babies are able to differentiate between different smells. The best way to prepare the baby for the crib is to swaddle him or her while breastfeeding. The swaddle will pick up the smell of the mother while the baby breastfeeds while keeping the baby as cozy, protected, and as warm as mother’s arms do.

2. Make the crib beautiful

While babies can hear and see just fine at birth, their sweet little brains are not yet capable of understanding what all that visual stimulus means. They start by being able to focus only over shorter distances -say 10 – 12 inches. This means their world is much smaller. In that world, they can make out light, shapes, and movement. They can detect contrasts in patterns. To stimulate them and keep them engaged, make their immediate world, their crib, beautiful. Give them something to explore. Hang a mobile over the crib that has different shapes, sounds, and moving patterns -they can be entertained for long following the slowly swirling patterns. Have a soft, multi-layered sheet with contrasting patterns for them to experience with their eyes and hands. Add a bumper around the edge of the crib for safety.

3. Start with naps

Don’t strain your baby immediately with long lonely nights in the crib. The transitioning from co-sleeping with parents to the crib will take time. Changing the baby’s sleeping habits is a tedious task. It is better to start with naps. Put the baby in the crib during the daytime when it’s her nap time instead of starting off with night-time sleeping. This will help in building a habit and gradually the baby will get used to spending time in the crib. This will help in peaceful long sleeping hours during night-time.

4. Make some ‘crib-time’ familiarity

Even adults get a little uncomfortable when it comes to sleeping in new and unfamiliar conditions. So does your baby. Make the baby familiar with the crib. Before starting to make her sleep in the crib, get her to acclimatize with the crib during the waking hours. Put her in the crib and let her sit there or play. This will help in creating a familiarization with the crib.

5. Create a sleep routine

Babies perceive the world in a sensory manner. Creating a routine will help the baby get familiar with the idea of sleeping in the crib. The routine could be something that the baby associates with sleeping over time -say a feed, then a change, then off to the crib, a little lullaby, and then a nap. The routine will tell baby that being put in the crib means that it’s time for some shuteye. This will gradually make the transitioning period a happier one.

6. Stand guard at the crib

It is heart-wrenching to see a baby cry and this is where the resolve of all mothers fails. Don’t become the biggest obstacle in baby’s development. If the baby cries, don’t immediately pick her up in your arms. If you do so, the baby will form the habit of crying in the crib knowing that doing so will take her out of the crib and into mama’s arms. Instead, put a hand over her and try to soothe and put her back to sleep. Stay there until you feel baby is fast asleep.

7. Never make the crib a place of punishment

Never put your baby in the crib as punishment. This will create a negative impact on the baby. It could induce fear in the baby for the crib. She will always relate to the crib as a place of punishment instead of a comfortable place to sleep.

Every baby is different and there are no sure shot ways to make this transition. For some babies, it would be a cakewalk, whereas for some, the move can be traumatic. Take time as well as give time. Forming and changing habits take a little while. As a mother of a newborn, you know that you need to be patient. The key is to not to give up until baby loves her new home.

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