You’ve been rocking, swaying, humming and bouncing for the past 15 minutes (which has felt like an eternity) – and success: your sweet little babe just fell asleep.
Now to somehow to the impossible feat of putting them in their crib without waking them up.
You inch closer to their crib, bouncing and swaying lovingly with each step.
You gaze sweetly down upon them and think about how cute they are.
You slowly lower them into the crib.
Freedom is an inch away…
And as soon as your baby ever-so-slightly touches the bedding, his eyes pop open wide like a doll’s and he begins to cry mournfully, as though the whole world is ending (because how dare you to put him down when he’s fast asleep, right?).
And now you must begin the process all over again.
“WHY!?” you internally scream to the heavens.
I may be playing this a bit on the dramatic side, but it’s really quite a bother when you’ve worked so hard to get them asleep and have to make the choice between holding them for an hour while they sleep – or risk putting them in bed where they will inevitably wake up during the transfer.
This likely seems very familiar to you, considering this frustrating bedtime dance has been happening to moms since the beginning of time.
The mom crawl, the dad shuffle, the Tippie-toes.
Whatever you call it when you’re in your child’s room and you’re trying to ever-so-quietly sneak out without them noticing.
We’ve all been there!
Watch this funny little clip below and laugh at how relatable this case of extreme parent crawl is.
Table Of Contents
Why does my baby wake up when putting them down?
And more importantly – what I can do about it?
Why Is My Baby Not Sleeping?
So, the age-old question that has plagued parents for eons – why does my baby wake up the moment I set her down?
Dana Oblemen from SleepSense has a really helpful explanation to this (and many other sleep-related questions for babies).
Before you think this is some sinisterly evil plot by your baby to keep you from having a life, rest assured that it’s not.
Babies have a very different sleep cycle than grown-ups.
Part of the problem might just be that you are not allowing your baby to fall into a deep enough sleep before setting her into her crib.
You’ll have to hold off on your victory dance for a short while until you’re sure baby is really, truly asleep.
It takes up to 20 minutes for babies to achieve this state of deep sleep.
My 16-month-old does this to me if I try to rush her into her crib.
Before moving her into her crib, I’ll lay her gently in my lap, supporting her head and bottom, and gently use my legs to help sway her into a deeper sleep.
At this stage of the game, I know from her facial expression and her flickering eyelids that she is completely asleep.
Because of how I’ve got her in cradled in my arms, it’s easy to shift her off of my lap and gently into her crib.
Will it work for you?
Give it a try!
There’s another reason that your baby is waking up as soon as you put him down.
You’ll know it if you wait longer to put him down and he still insists upon waking every single time.
This is particularly common for smaller babies, but even bigger babies may experience this as they go through milestones. It’s kind of flattering really.
The reason is that your baby simply wants to be with you.
Why does my baby want to be with me every waking (and sleeping) moment of the day?
Genetically, we’re programmed as little babies to sense some danger has occurred when we’re separated from our parents, especially our mothers.
To battle this issue, you’ll just have to convince your baby that you love them and that they are safe and secure.
Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as saying, “Don’t cry, baby. Mommy loves you!”
In the video below, Dana from SleepSense talks about why your sweet baby pops awake as soon as you put them down – and how to get into a healthy sleep pattern that’s good for your baby (and for you!)
It will take lots of reassurance from you, not to mention heaps of patience as you help your baby move through this phase of separation anxiety.
And I assure you, it IS just a phase.
It will pass.
Your baby will never be this small again, so instead of lamenting that you are sleep deprived, try to remember that it will not be like this forever.
You will eventually get a chance to sleep and go to the bathroom, I promise.
Try to work with your baby on the problem and go with her cues.
Don’t just leave her to cry it out at this age. There will come a time when controlled crying or the cry it out method can be practiced – but now it’s too early for that.
Your goal here is to help reduce her anxiety.
If she feels unsafe or abandoned, this will only continue to cause problems.
Comfort her and she will develop confidence as she grows, knowing that you will indeed be there for her.
Remember, when babies are small, they know nothing of this world, but they do know who Mommy is.
To your baby, the way that you smell is pure heaven and your touch is everything.
When my youngest was only a few months old, she awoke while I’d snuck off for a shower.
My partner tried desperately to calm her, but nothing worked.
I hurriedly dried off and dressed and as soon as I took hold of my daughter, her crying completely ceased and she let out a very relieved “Ahhh” as she burrowed her tiny face into my neck.
That was all she needed.
Once she knew I was there, she went back to sleep.
Sometimes the simplest things can be a big solution as well.
Baby Sleep Suits and Your “Scented” Clothing – Is This the Answer We’ve All Been Looking For?
Something as simple as putting one of your unwashed t-shirts over the crib mattress could help with this problem, actually!
Your baby will be able to smell your scent and should find this very soothing and reassuring.
For me, my personal best solution for my little one to sleep (without sleeping on her tummy) was a sleep suit.
The only reason I knew about this was the daycare had one for her to try because she would not sleep on her back.
She was a tummy sleeper by her first month after the swaddling didn’t work anymore.
How To Swaddle:
This was a “Thank My Jesus” moment after I got more than 2 hours sleep.
She started sleeping through the night around 6 months old and really, it’s thanks to her Merlins Magical Sleep Suit.
Before that, she was sleeping through the night but on her stomach.
I know, I know all you mommies out there can strike lightning down on me BUT it was the only way she would sleep.
What Other Factors Could Contribute to My Baby Not Sleeping?
And sometimes, other factors might be to blame for this refusal to fall asleep.
Like the temperature of the room…
- Is it too hot?
- Or too cold?
Something else to consider is the environment your child is used to…
- Is there too much noise?
- Is your child used to noise in your house, so when it’s silent, she’s not used to that?
I always use white noise to aid in getting my baby to sleep. It keeps the rest of our household sane too because I don’t have to shush everyone constantly.
The white noise drowns out all unpleasant sounds for the baby, even those made by her very noisy big sister!
When it comes to what your baby needs – you know your baby best, so follow your instincts, mama!
Why does my baby wake up as soon as I lay them down? The question that brought us here, and the answer (whether we like it or not) is simple: they need us.
They feel security with us, and when they notice (even in sleep) that we are not as close as we were before – they wake up and search for us. This is a natural human instinct.
So, how do I get my baby to stay asleep when I put her down? While every babe is different, here are is a helpful tip that worked wonders for me with my baby: when you lay them in bed, keep one hand on them, resting on their belly.
Firmer, at first, then slowly lifting your hand away when they appear settled.
When can I start sleep training my baby? Most experts recommend that you start sleep training between 4 and 6 months old.
Before is too soon, and starting later than this, you might find it difficult as your child may already have a set sleep and wake cycle.
Another great sign your child is ready to sleep train is when you are no longer feeding them throughout the night.
At what age can I try a cry-it-out or controlled crying method? Cry it out or controlled crying methods are often used during sleep training, but your babe has to be physically and emotionally ready to be sleeping through. This means no more night feedings and not during a separation anxiety phase.
Is it ever OK to let a newborn cry? Cry it out or controlled crying methods are not for infants and are used at a later stage for sleep training. BUT, I am a very big advocate for understanding and appreciating your own limits.
If YOU’RE about to burst into tears because you’ve had non-stop mom duty or are emotionally drained – take a few minutes to collect yourself.
Letting your newborn cry a few minutes won’t do harm and coming back to them in a nurturing and calm manner is best. Know your limits, mama – sometimes you just need a minute or two to give yourself a break and that’s okay at any age.
When can babies self-soothe? Between the ages of 6-9 months, children start to learn how to soothe themselves (with a little help from mom and dad). This is an important skill for them to learn and your baby will find their own ways of coping around this age.
When do I stop swaddling my baby? I found this question really interesting because it’s a bit of an uncommon question but it’s pretty important. Swaddling your babe is a great way to keep them feeling secure and content – but at what age are they too old to swaddle?
Well… the average age to stop swaddling your baby is around 3 or 4 months old. Newborns are born with something called a startle reflex (you might have noticed sometimes your baby moves her arms quickly like she is startled).
The swaddle helps keep this reflex from waking them up – but the reflex is usually outgrown in the first 4 or 5 months of their lives.
I’d love to hear in the comments below some of the funny ways you try to escape your child’s room undetected!
I myself am a stealthy tip-toe queen while my partner prefers the shuffle and glide maneuver!