Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Infant Doesn't Like His Crib

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My ten-week-old son cries whenever I put him in his crib. He will sleep in his bassinet or in the car seat carrier, but starts to fuss immediately in the crib. How can I get him to stay and sleep there? Is he too young to "train" to sleep? When should I start and what steps do you recommend? I am particularly interested in whether or not I should let him "cry it out" for a period of time.

A: Some young infants seem to need a "snug" environment in order to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. Because there's not much extra room in a car seat carrier or bassinet, these may be more conducive to sleep. The crib may feel too big and open for some babies. Or it just may be that he's gotten used to the bassinet over the past ten weeks and objects to something new. As babies get bigger, most adjust quite easily to the crib, and I would recommend that you keep trying. You might want to put him near one end of the crib to make it seem more compact. Also, make sure the crib is not cold or drafty; it's okay to have a bumper inside the crib. You can also try patting or rubbing him on the back the first few times, in order to help him settle. Don't get trapped into doing this for too long though, or you'll have another habit to break later.

I would not recommend letting him cry it out at this age. Young infants (up to four to six months of age), usually cry for a good reason, even if we can't figure out what it is. I think infants this age need to be comforted when they cry, and not left alone. You can still try to train him to sleep better by trying to set a regular eating, sleeping, and activity schedule, and by recognizing his cues that tell you when he's starting to feel tired.

When babies are older (five to six months), I would start using methods that allow them to cry on their own for progressively longer intervals. Dr. Richard Ferber's book: How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems has excellent chapters that explain how to assess your baby's sleep, and how to implement a training program.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary. Pregnant or not, learn what steps to take to protect your family from Zika, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

Ommm! 5 Meditation & Mindfulness Activities for Families
Family meditation and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and promote health and happiness. Learn some fun and easy mindfulness activities for kids, and set them on the path to inner peace!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks