Why Your Newborn Won’t Sleep In Their Bassinet – What You Can Do To Encourage Restful Sleep

Are you exhausted and desperate for some sleep? Is your newborn stirring and restless in their bassinet?

The newborn phase is so precious and fleeting, but it can be challenging to enjoy that time when you are flat-out exhausted. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why your newborn won’t sleep in their bassinet and what you can do to encourage restful sleep!

If you are ready to get your baby some restful sleep, let’s jump in!


The Importance Of Having Your Newborn Sleep In Their Bassinet

The bassinet is a great place for your newborn to sleep. I love bassinets because they can be close to the parents at night, but also provide your baby with their own sleep space.

Co-sleeping has dangers, so providing your baby with their own sleep space helps to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Having your newborn sleep in their own bassinet also gives them a sleep space of their own to get comfortable and they can learn how to sleep without someone else.

Newborn Sleeping Patterns

Newborns can sleep anywhere from 12 hours to 16 hours a day. Newborns often have trouble telling the difference between day and night.

Newborns have small stomachs so they wake more often to feed. You can expect their sleep cycles during the day to be anywhere from 20-45 minutes along.

Once they discover the difference between day and night, their sleep cycles last longer during their night in stretches from 1-3 hours.

Reasons Why Your Newborn Won’t Sleep In Their Bassinet

Being a newborn is hard! Your baby has gone from a place of being warm, full, and snuggling 24/7 to a place that is loud, sometimes cold, and hungry.

Below are some reasons why your newborn won’t sleep in their bassinet. And pro tip, it probably isn’t the bassinet itself!

  • Hunger – Hunger could be a reason that your baby is hard to put down in their bassinet. If a feeding session is right around the corner, they may not want to settle because they are hungry.
  • Startle Reflex – I don’t know about you, but my babies had very sensitive startle reflexes. This reflex causes babies to startle awake when being laid down
  • Temperature – If it is too hot or cold, your baby will not be able to get comfortable because they cannot regulate their own temperature.
  • Noise– Loud and out of the blue noises can startle your baby awake, especially in the REM or lighter sleep phase.
  • Not Comfortable– It can be difficult for newborns to adjust to life outside of the womb. They are used to being sort of hugged while sleeping and they can have trouble getting comfortable.
  • Confusion– Your baby may be confused as to why you are putting them down, especially if you are trying to put them down in the bassinet awake or in a lighter sleep cycle.
  • Not Sleepy– Sleep and awake windows are important to keep consistent, so that your baby will sleep for longer stretches at night. If your baby is not sleepy enough, they will wake easily.
  • Too Bright – If we think about the womb, it is a dark and warm place. If their sleeping situation is too bright, they cannot produce the melatonin required to fall and stay asleep.
  • Habits– Your baby has spent 9 months cozy in your body and then of course wants to sleep on your warm body after they are born. It can be difficult to transition from that to a bassinet!
  • Overtired– Remember, sleep and awake windows are important. If your baby gets over tired, it can be hard for them to go to sleep. I know that seems so bizarre, but the stress hormone cortisol can cause them to wake up more quickly.

What To Do To Encourage Your Newborn To Sleep In Their Bassinet

Sleep is important for you and baby! Not just any sleep, but quality sleep!

Below is a list of things to do in order to encourage your newborn to sleep in their bassinet!


Swaddling your newborn gives them a sense of being in the womb. Swaddles also help reduce the startle reflex that can wake them up during REM or light sleep.

I love the velcro swaddles because they are easy to use and your little Houdini can’t wiggle out as easily.

White Noise

White noise is great for restful sleep. White noise has many benefits including drowning out unwanted noise from other rooms or outside.

White noise also makes baby feel the comfort of the womb. In the womb, they heard your heartbeat, plus other noises that lulled them to sleep.


Fans encourage the airflow in the room and keep the temperature more suitable for a baby’s sleep.

A fan in the room statistically reduces the risk of SIDS. I like the portable fans because they are portable and you can recharge after every use!

Use a Heating Pad

Heating pads are a great tool to use. For a moment, imagine going from a warm bed into a cold bed and falling asleep..sounds terrible right?

The same goes for babies. Babies don’t want to go from a warm body to a cold bassinet.

Using a heating pad to warm up their bassinet, will allow a smoother and warmer transfer. Be sure to remove the heating pad before placing baby in the bassinet, and test the temp to make sure it isn’t too warm.

Check the Temperature

If the sleeping environment is too hot or cold, it can cause your baby to not be comfortable enough to sleep.

Room temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees are perfect for babies. The general rule of thumb is to have your baby in one more layer of clothing than you have on.

For example, if you are comfortable in a t-shirt and joggers, your baby will be comfortable in a onesie, pants, and a swaddle.

Create a Solid Routine

I can’t say this enough! Routines are so important for little ones.

My babies thrived off of a routine, and I am sure yours will also. Keeping routines consistent will help regulate your baby and what they are comfortable with.

Like anyone, babies do better when they know what to expect.

Use Your Scent

Since birth, your newborn has identified and mastered your scent. When they can smell you, they know you are near.

You can use a t-shirt you have worn or a blanket you have held and put it near the bassinet so your baby can smell your scent.

Utilize Blackout Curtains


Blackout curtains are a great way to block out any unwanted light in your baby’s sleep space. They come with a ton of patterns and lengths these days, so the blackout curtains won’t cramp your style!

Make Sure the Bassinet is Comfy

If the bassinet is not comfortable, then of course your baby won’t sleep in there! Make sure that the mattress to the bassinet is comfortable for your baby.

Use Light Pressure

After you lay your baby down, keep a bit of light body pressure on them. This helps to reduce their startle reflex and settle them back to sleep.

I recommend either using your hand to keep a bit of pressure or your body. Then, slowly stand up!


The vibrations from the lulla-vibe help babies to stay asleep. The lulla-vibe is battery-powered and lasts up to 24 hours.

It also has a setting that allows it to shut off slowly to help your baby stay asleep.

Try a Sleep Sack


Sleep sacks are great for babies that do not want to be swaddled. Sleep sacks act as a less restrictive womb space, and give babies a sense of comfort.

It is also not safe to give baby blankets, so sleep sacks double as a blanket!

Waiting 10-15 Minutes

Once your baby falls asleep, give them about 10-15 minutes before moving them. Waiting a short amount of time allows them to fall into a deeper sleep.

At the 10-15 minute mark, they are less likely to be startled awake when being laid down.

Slow Movements

Fast movements are more likely to startle your baby and wake them. Slow movements allow your baby to stay more settled and not be jostled around.

Try a Pacifier


Pacifiers help to soothe the sucking reflex that babies have. Pacifiers help to offer comfort to your baby while sleeping and reduce the risk of SIDS.

Try a Sleep Nest

via Snuggle Me Organic

Baby loungers are gaining popularity! I want to just make sure that you do not leave your baby unattended while they are sleeping in a sleep nest.

Sleep nests act like a hug for your baby while sleeping. Sleep nests can make the transition from sleeping on mom or dad to laying down easier.

Just make sure your little one is never left unattended when sleeping in a sleep nest.

Sleep Suit

Sleepsuits are amazing products to use, especially if your baby isn’t a fan of the swaddle. Sleepsuits help to establish good sleep habits and provide parents peace of mind that their baby is getting adequate rest for proper growth and development.

Try a Baby Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage?! Baby massages can help to relax your baby and get them sleepy.

I like doing this, especially at night with some lavender lotion to try all of the sleep tricks!

Tips For When Your Newborn Still Won’t Sleep In Their Bassinet

Desperate times call for desperate (yet safe) measures! These tips are great for when your baby still won’t sleep in their bassinet.

  • Tissue Trick – Have you ever heard of the tissue trick? It’s where you take a tissue and graze it over your baby’s face until they fall asleep. It works in minutes!
  • Dream Feeding– If your baby is hungry while in the bassinet, it may not last long. If they can take a bottle try to dream feed. This is where your baby is only awake enough to eat, and then they go right back to sleep.
  • Dry Diaper– My kiddos were super finicky about even a slightly wet diaper. Make sure that they are completely dry before laying them down.
  • Warm Bath – A warm bath helps to calm your baby but also sets a routine in place. Every night my little ones took a shower with us or a warm bath.
  • Lavender Lotion – Lavender lotion is calming for your baby and helps to get them sleepy and ready for a good rest.
  • One Sleep Cycle at a Time: Good things take time, and this is true for sleep. Sometimes all or nothing mentality doesn’t work with babies, so you have to take it one step at a time. Try one sleep cycle at a time and work your way up!

Frequently Asked Questions About What To Do When Your Newborn Won’t Sleep In Their Bassinet


I know you are desperate for sleep, and you may have a lot of questions about getting your baby to sleep in their bassinet.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about what to do when your newborn just won’t sleep in their bassinet!

What do I do if my newborn will only sleep when I am holding her?

I know those baby snuggles are so precious, but it’s not always practical for your baby to nap on you for every sleep cycle!

If your newborn will only sleep when you are holding him/her, try laying them down after they have been asleep for a good 10-15 minutes.

Once you lay them down, do not stand up immediately. Keep a small amount of your body weight on them for a minute or two. Slowly stand up and if they start to fuss, then return until they settle.

How long should I hold my sleeping newborn before I try to lay him down?

Try to wait 10-15 minutes after they fall asleep before laying your baby down. This helps to get your baby into a deeper sleep and have a better chance of staying asleep.

A trick I often use is to lift baby’s arm up and drop it – if they startle they are often not in a deep enough sleep!

If you can drop baby’s arm and they stay snuggly and asleep – they will transfer easily to their bassinet.

How long should my newborn be sleeping every day?

Newborns can sleep anywhere from 12 hours-16 hours. This sleep will be in short bursts with naps lasting anywhere from 20-45 minutes long.

Can I let my newborn cry it out?

I do not advocate for the cry-it-out method. Newborns and all babies for that matter have needs and they show those needs through crying.

One thing that you can do is see if they will settle a bit before jumping in to take action. A little bit of fussing and grunting will not hurt your baby, but I do not advise crying it out.

The newborn sleep stage can be challenging. The amazing thing is that you are learning and growing with your baby.

I hope some of the tips and tricks I shared help to get you some good and restful sleep. Are there any tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

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