How To Get A Newborn To Sleep In A Bassinet (Ultimate Sleeping Guide)

Do you have a newborn who won’t sleep in their bassinet or crib? God, I remember those days.

You are sleep-deprived, frequently angry and resentful at your spouse, guilty for your baby, and emotionally and mentally drowning.

It’s an exhausting, desperate, frustrating feeling. How to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet is no joke. 

If you’re reaching a breaking point, start scrolling below.

Manage Your Expectations About Baby Sleep

First off, before we get to the different ways on how to get your baby to sleep in their bassinet, take note of the most important tip in this article – managing your expectations.

Cause you can do everything right, do everything by the book, and try different methods for as long as you can. But you might have a newborn that hates bassinets.

Expect it. 

Expect that you’re going to get shitty sleep, that your baby won’t sleep, that you’ll always wake up tired and sleepy.

Because once you accept that what’s happening to you is normal, you’ll have an easier time handling your emotions about sleep deprivation and being tired all the time.

And it won’t frustrate you to have a baby that just won’t sleep in their bassinet or for longer than you hoped for.

Remember – this is just a phase. This won’t last forever. 

There will come a time when your baby will be able to sleep in their bassinet. Or crib. Or in their room.

Point is, this won’t last. And all of this shitty baby sleep is normal, so that’s my first tip before going through the list here – to expect it.

Second, I have a list of ways here on how to make your newborn sleep longer at night, which involves common methods such as:

  • Help baby to know the difference between night and day
  • Follow the wake-eat-play-sleep cycle
  • Setup a proper sleeping environment
  • Make sure they’re getting enough naps
  • But don’t make them nap for longer than 2 hours
  • Learn your baby’s tired signals
  • Establish a routine
  • Put them to bed drowsy
  • Swaddle them
  • Dream feed before you go to sleep at night
  • Change your baby’s diaper before a dream feed
  • Encourage self-soothing

So I’m not going to discuss those ways any further.

What I’m going to share here are specific tips from experts and parents from popular parenting forums, about making their baby sleep specifically in a bassinet.

Let’s start first with some possible issues why your newborn won’t sleep in their bassinet.

Reasons Why Your Baby Won’t Sleep in the Bassinet

Wants To Be Near You

  • Always, they’d rather sleep in your arms than be in a bassinet

Uncomfortable Environment

  • Room temperature is too hot, too cold
  • Too noisy and stimulating for your baby
  • Lights are too bright

Needs Are Not Met

  • They’re hungry
  • They need a diaper change

Startle Reflex

Overtired or Undertired

  • They’re either overtired or under tired, which can make it harder for them to sleep

Medical Issue

  • Reflux
  • Gas
  • Colic

Doesn’t Know If It’s Day or Night

  • They need to be trained to sleep longer at night

Don’t Like the Bassinet

  • Some babies just don’t like to sleep in their bassinets and might prefer an alternative

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Products That Could Help In Getting Baby to Sleep in Their Bassinet

These are products and apps mentioned by parents in popular online groups that helped with their baby’s sleeping issues.

They are not fool-proof and guaranteed to work for your baby but there’s no harm in knowing what other parents have been using to get their baby to sleep.

White Noise Machine

Swaddle or Sleep Sack

Pacifiers

Baby Monitor

Blackout Curtains

Gas Drops

Probiotics

Mobile Apps

Other Bassinets/ Alternatives

Baby Sleeping Program

Now let’s get to the meat of this article – ways and methods on how to get your baby to sleep in a bassinet.

How To Get A Newborn To Sleep In A Bassinet

Check if they’re gassy

Before putting them to sleep, make sure they’re not gassy by doing bicycle motions on their legs. Or gently massage their tummies. 

Hopefully, you’ll hear some tootin’ and fartin’, signaling that your baby has expelled some gas.

Some parents have also tried gas drops, switched formulas, and even started their babies on probiotics, to get rid of gas pain.

Keep putting them back in the bassinet

Other parents have tried doing this over and over until their baby fell asleep. 

It was hard, as sometimes, it would be 1 am before they finally made their little ones settle on the bassinet.

Some mentioned just walking away quickly. Some parents noticed that the more careful and the more they hover, to make sure that their babies are sleeping, the more likely their babies will wake up.

So just put them down gently, go and walk away quickly!

They might stir a little bit but they’d normally go back to sleep.

Fake put down

This is a hilarious but genius tip from a mom who shared that they “fake put down” her baby a bunch of times. 

According to her, it’s her way of desensitizing her baby to the sensation of being put down in a bassinet. 

It’s a way of assuring the baby that nothing bad is going to happen if I put you on a bassinet. So please, go the eff to sleep!

Kidding about the last part, but you can try it!

Warm up the bassinet

Some parents have tried warming the bassinet mattress with a heating pad or heat bag.

One even shared that they used a heated sock with rice in it!

Just make sure to remove those items afterward and that the bassinet is not hot nor does it have hot spots, before putting in your baby.

Put them to sleep first

I’ve tried swaying and shushing my baby.

Some parents have carried their babies while bouncing on a yoga ball.

Others have tried using a baby swing and then transferring their baby to the bassinet. 

While some have nursed or fed their kid to sleep. 

It might not be ideal or one that follows the book but fuck it, you need sleep!

Move the bassinet

You can move the bassinet close to your bed and if possible and comfortable, place your hand on their belly.

This helps with the Moro reflex and it also lets your kid know that you’re nearby, which soothes them.

You can also try to place the bassinet away from your bed and see if your baby can sleep better that way.

Stay in the bassinet

It’s impossible of course but what I mean is to put as many body parts as you can in the bassinet.

One mom shared that she was practically bending over in the bassinet.

Her face was lying down beside her baby’s face and one hand was on her baby’s legs.

Use a large unwashed shirt

Babies feel safe and comforted when they can smell you.

So put your scent on a large shirt and wear that for a day or two. Or three.

Then fit that over the mattress. Don’t put it near your baby like a blanket, as that can be a sleeping hazard.

Put on the mattress like a sheet or cover. So there’s no way your baby would be able to move it around and they can smell you all day, in their bassinet.

Swaddle or Sleep Sack

Your baby might prefer to be swaddled with its arms out. Or legs out.

Or they might just hate it and would prefer a sleep sack!

I used the HALO swaddle and let me tell you the joy I felt was thisclose, to discovering Nick Carter of the Backstreet boys for the first time. 

I digress but I made my husband 4 more of those miracle swaddles!

One parent also shared warming up the sleep sack or swaddle for a minute in the dryer, works for her baby.

Pat gently and repeatedly

This is a common method in some countries.

Patting your baby by the bum gently and repeatedly, mimics the rhythm and sound inside a womb.

If you find the idea tiring, some genius parent thought of using a cat toy – a dancing fish – to replace your hand for patting!

Pacifier

Some parents said using pacifiers works for them.

But some said that it was a hassle to always put it back, especially when it kept falling from their baby’s mouth, waking them up in the process.

I’ve never used them but hey, if it will work for your baby, then try it!

Tissue Trick

Watch below and try.

I’ve tried it on my baby. Didn’t work but all babies are different. So what’s the harm in trying?

Some parents have also tried just their hands instead of the tissue, and it worked!

Butt first, then head

Learn the technique of putting your baby quickly yet gently.

Lower their feet first, then the butt then the head.

Then put one hand on their chest. Then you can either wait for them to settle or just walk away.

More Tips To Try If Your Newborn Hates Bassinets

Use an app

One parent swears the Guva app, with its “Colic” sound.

Others shared that the Huckleberry app helped them tremendously.

Enroll in a baby sleeping program

Taking Cara Babies and Moms on Call comes into mind when it comes to baby sleeping courses or newborn sleeping methods.

Talk to your pediatrician

Your kid might be suffering from silent or acid reflux. Or worse.

Let your doctor identify first if there’s an issue then maybe then can offer a solution to the reflux, like a probiotic or gas drop. 

Or change your diet or your baby’s milk formula.

One parent shared on a popular parenting forum that their doctor gave the OK to use a folded-up blanket under the end of their baby’s bassinet mattress to elevate the baby’s head/chest.

Change Their Sleeping Position

Some babies don’t like lying flat on their back when asleep so you might want to consider changing their position.

It’s not ideal and sleeping on their side or tummy is a sleeping hazard. But if you and your spouse can take turns to look after your baby (or if you can use a product for it) then it might work.

Some parents have mentioned using wedge-shaped pillows that slightly angle the bassinet mattress.

Other parents let their baby sleep on their side or their tummy, fully supervised. The parents just take turns watching the baby.

Take turns 

Some babies just won’t sleep on anything – bassinet, crib, your bed – except your arms.

And well, you can’t hold them for hours and hours. Especially at night!

So if possible, make a plan with your spouse to take turns carrying your baby. 

One parent on a forum shared his shift of staying up from 9 pm to 1 am, then her wife takes over from 1 am to 5 am. Then hubby again then-wife again. 

You get the drift. If it’s possible.

If not, hire a night nurse or ask for help from your in-laws, siblings, or relatives. If it’s possible.

Try Cry-It-Out or Ferber Method

If your baby is old enough and past the newborn stage, then maybe it’s time to try the traditional Cry-It-Out method.

But maybe not the extreme kind where you don’t go in unless they’re hungry or need a diaper change or they spit up or vomit.

I’ve tried this once, and it didn’t work for me but again, we’re all different.

Other parents have let their newborns cry it out for 10 minutes or so and it worked for them.

While some won’t carry their baby but would just lean in and put their hand on their baby’s chest while shushing them.

Some parents have advised using earplugs, especially if you’re the type that gets easily triggered by your baby’s crying.

Try another bassinet or an alternative

If you’ve tried everything but nothing works and you have some money to burn, then maybe it’s time to try another bassinet.

Or a bassinet alternative.

This is not the best solution though for everyone, especially if you’re on a budget.

But if you have some money to spare and there’s a chance that another bassinet or an alternative can help you, then, by all means, get one!

You can borrow, rent or buy 2nd hand.

Or you can just get a brand-new one.

Most parents advise on getting the SNOO, cause when it works, it rreeeaaally works!

Others recommend cheaper alternatives like the 4moms Mamaroo bassinet or Graco Sense2Snooze Bassinet.

Some parents have also recommended the Munchkin Brica Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet, a rocking bassinet, an inclined bassinet, and even a stroller bassinet.

Other parents have tried the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest, the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper, Graco Dreamglider, Graco DuoGlider, and a baby lounger, while others ended up using their crib after all!

Co-Sleeping/ Bed Sharing

This is actually one of the most shared advice on popular parenting forums – to co-sleep or bedshare with your baby.

It might seem a bit controversial but a lot of parents have sworn by this method. They’ve tried everything and this was the only way for their baby to sleep.

For co-sleeping or bed-sharing to be safe, you need to learn the Safe Sleep Seven method, as endorsed by the La Leche League.

Which makes sense! So try researching more on the Safe Sleep Seven methods and your family might just get some decent sleep soon enough.

Also try getting a bigger bed, to make it more comfortable for you and your spouse. 

Or if hubby is okay with it, make him sleep in another room or bed. Temporarily.

Babywear

This is not ideal for nighttime sleeping. But if you need to get something done in the morning and your baby just won’t sleep in the bassinet, then just put them in a baby carrier.

A lot of parents swear by it, saying their little one can sleep for hours in it!

FAQ on Getting Your Baby To Sleep In Their Bassinet

Why won’t my newborn sleep in his bassinet?

There could be several reasons why your newborn won’t sleep in their bassinet. 
The most common is they’re uncomfortable. They’re used to being in their mother’s womb so everything’s new and intolerable for them. They might also be hungry or need a diaper change, their startle reflex keeps waking them up, or they’re gassy or sick.

What should I do if my baby only sleeps when held?

Try taking turns with your spouse to hold the baby. It’s not ideal but if it’s the only way that your baby can sleep and you and your spouse can get some sleep, then just do it.
This phase is hard but it won’t last. Eventually, your baby will learn how to sleep in a crib or another alternative.

Is it normal for a newborn to only sleep when held?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for a newborn to only sleep when being held. They love close contact, especially with the mother as it soothes and relaxes them. 

How can I make my baby more comfortable in the bassinet?

You can make your baby more comfortable in a bassinet by trying to warm it up first, by playing white noise, dimming the lights, or making sure it’s pitch black dark in their bedroom, swaddling them, etc.

Should a newborn be asleep before putting in a bassinet?

It would be better if you can put your newborn drowsy yet awake in the bassinet. 
But if that’s the only way they’ll sleep or you can get some much-needed sleep, then, by all means, let your baby sleep first before putting in the bassinet.

Can you put a newborn in a bassinet awake?

Ideally, according to sleep experts, you should put your baby to sleep drowsy but awake. This trains them to sleep on their own.

Safety Sleeping Tips for Using Bassinet

  • Make it bare

Don’t put anything that can suffocate a newborn, like a blanket, pillow, stuffed toy, etc.

  • Use only the mattress it came with

Bassinets usually come with a thin mattress which might not look comfortable to sleep on, especially for grown-ups. 

But for babies, they’re perfectly fine and have been tested and approved by federal standards.

So it’s not advisable to change the bassinet or even stack them with another, just to make it seem more comfortable for your baby.

  • Don’t use ill-fitting sheets

It might unfurl anytime, cover your baby and become a sleeping hazard.

Always use the ones recommended by the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts on How To Get A Newborn To Sleep In A Bassinet

Do what works for your family, but know the risk. 

Especially if you’re going to use unconventional methods.

All babies are different. Some just sleep better than others and if you have one that doesn’t, know that this is just a phase.

It will pass eventually. 

Remember your newborn isn’t trying to aggravate you. They just don’t know how to sleep comfortably in an unfamiliar environment, away from the soothing and relaxing confines of their mother’s womb.

Still, it’s perfectly normal to feel frustrated with your baby at times. 

Some parents have admitted to not liking their babies but loving them and that’s perfectly normal.

So again, manage your expectations. Just do what you need to do to survive this phase. 

I hope this article will be able to help you to get your baby to sleep in their bassinet. Crossing my fingers!

If you love this guide, then make sure to check out these guides on the Best Blackout Curtains For Nursery and the Snoo vs Mamaroo.