When you first arrive home with your newborn, you will probably be happy and excited to be home with your baby. You may want nothing more than to sit holding her, gazing in wonder at this little miracle that you have created.
But eventually, you will have to put her down so that you can get on with things that need to be done. Or you may simply just be desperate for the bathroom. And… you are horrified to discover that your baby cries when put down to sleep.
You have lovingly prepared the little bassinet, and it is ready and waiting for your princess, all decked out with pink frills and the best linen available. You smile sweetly at your baby, telling her that you love her. But as you bend over to lower her into the bassinet, she lets out a loud wail that pierces your eardrums.
What can you do if your baby cries when put down to sleep? There are numerous ways to approach this, and I will give you some useful tips and advice that will hopefully help you to hold on to your sanity.
Why Do Babies Cry?
Let us first try to understand why your sweet little angel cries when you put her down to sleep. When a person wants or needs something from others, the way that we fulfill those wants and needs is through communication. We express them, either in words or gestures.
Tiny babies don’t have this skill or ability. Their only way of communicating their wants and needs is through crying. So while it may be enormously frustrating for you, it might help to remember that your baby is not just crying to annoy or irritate you.
She is crying to attract your attention, to express to you that she needs something from you.
When your baby cries when put down to sleep, first check that there is nothing physical that is worrying her.
Does Baby Need A Diaper Change?
If your baby has a wet or dirty diaper, this would cause her obvious discomfort. A baby should not be left in a wet or soiled diaper for any longer than absolutely necessary. A baby’s skin is very delicate and thin and is easily irritated by moisture. It does not take long for a diaper rash to set in, and once it starts, it can be difficult to eradicate.
Diaper rashes are uncomfortable and painful for a baby, causing the skin to burn and sting. I always advise using a good quality barrier cream at each and every diaper change, in order to prevent the onset of a diaper rash. This will help to avoid the baby crying when you put her down to sleep.
Is Baby Hungry?
If she needs to be fed, your baby will cry when you put her down. With a newborn, it is often difficult to know exactly when your baby needs to be fed, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Babies do not have a clock in their little bellies. They do not know how many hours have passed since their last feed. They only know that they are starting to feel uncomfortable, and they will instinctively express this discomfort by crying. It is their way of saying, “Feed me, please.”
If you are bottle-feeding, it is easier to know exactly how much milk your baby has ingested, but even then, you do not always know when she has had enough.
Is Baby Too Cold, or Too Warm?
If you have ever found yourself lying in bed with freezing cold feet, you will know how impossible it is to fall asleep when you are feeling cold.
Check the temperature of your baby’s room. It should be kept at a steady 68°-72° Fahrenheit.
Feel your baby’s hands, feet, face, and nose. If they feel cold to your touch, she may need to be dressed in warmer clothes.
If her little face looks slightly flushed, or her hair and neck are damp, she is possibly too warm and will be happier if you remove a layer.
What Else Could Be Worrying Baby?
Occasionally, if a baby cries when put down to sleep, it could be an indication of a medical problem, like gastric reflux, an ear infection, or a blocked nose. If the crying is really hard to deal with and you are struggling to pacify your baby, it is worth a visit to the doctor to rule out any medical issues.
If a baby is crying inconsolably, I always advise parents to examine their tiny fingers and toes. A common, but little-known problem is that sometimes a loose thread in a sock or onesie, or even one of Mom’s hairs, can become tightly wound around a tiny toe or finger, cutting off circulation and causing extreme discomfort and pain.
What Should You Do If Baby Cries When Put Down To Sleep?
It is possible that, even when there is nothing obviously wrong, your baby is just fretful and loves the comfort of being in your arms all the time. This can make life extremely difficult when you have got stuff that needs doing. Here are some tools that can help.
- Swaddling your baby
Wrapping your baby tightly in a swaddle might help her to feel more secure. Make sure that her little arms are comfortably wrapped, and that her circulation is not affected.
- A baby wrap
Your baby may simply want to feel the warmth and closeness of your body. If she will not let you put her down, try ‘wearing’ her in a sturdy wrap or baby carrier. There are many different styles available. Find one that you find comfortable, but that also supports your baby’s spine and head adequately. You will then have both hands free to do whatever you need to.
- Using a stroller
For tiny babies, it may be helpful to have a bassinet that is attached to a stroller. Put the baby down in the bassinet and gently wheel her back and forth, or even take her out for a short walk. The constant motion should soothe her and help her to fall asleep.
- Using a Pack ‘n Play or portable crib
Sometimes your baby might just need the reassurance of knowing that you are close by. If you put her down in a Pack ‘n Play, in the same room where you are, so that she can see and hear you, she might settle more easily.
- Using a white noise machine
‘White noise’ is a soft sound that is similar to the sound of rushing water, or wind blowing. It helps to shut out other background noise, and can be very soothing and calming. There are numerous white noise machines available.
- Playing soft music
The sound of soft, peaceful music, like lullabies or classical music, often helps to calm a crying baby.
- Giving the baby a pacifier
Sometimes all it takes is a simple pacifier. Many moms are reluctant to use a pacifier because they don’t want their baby to become too attached to it. However, it can be a lifesaver if your baby cries when put down to sleep.
The Sleep Time Routine
I always recommend having a regular sleep time routine. Babies soon learn to understand and interpret signals. If you follow the same routine every time you put your baby down, she will eventually learn to self-soothe and fall asleep. Change her diaper, feed, cuddle and talk softly, or read a little book, then put her down while she is still awake, but stand nearby and talk to her calmly as she is nodding off.
When the going gets really tough, hard as it is to listen to, your baby won’t come to any harm if you leave her to cry for a few minutes. As long as you have ruled out any physical problems, if you are desperate for some time to put dinner on, or bath an older child, your baby might be angry, but she will be fine if you put her down safely in her crib and leave her alone for a few minutes.