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My Newborn Hates the Bassinet

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Heather,

My 3-month-old hates the bassinet. She only sleeps there for 30 minutes at a time, and then I have to hold her for her to fall back to sleep. I know I'm creating such a bad habit. Help!

Cradle and All

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Dear Cradle,

You're not alone. This is a really common dilemma for parents of little babies. Newborns are used to being folded up, tucked, wrapped and, most importantly, moving when they sleep. A baby's sense of motion is one of the first senses to develop—very early in pregnancy a fetus begins to detect movement. That means she's essentially been sleeping on the go for many months. Now we're asking her to sleep on a flat, still mattress. So it's understandable that she doesn't initially like it.

Her little nervous system may not be ready for independent sleep, so respond to her cries if she tells you she needs to be picked up and held or rocked to sleep.

This will change. The key is to continue to put her down in her regular sleeping place, because one day she'll have the maturity and skills to sleep well there. If you're not giving her the opportunity to practice, you may not notice when that day arrives.

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Swaddle her (if it helps), do a little nap routine and lay her down in her crib or bassinet. Just listen and be curious about what might happen. If it doesn't work, try again tomorrow. Her little nervous system may not be ready for independent sleep, so respond to her cries if she tells you she needs to be picked up and held or rocked to sleep. One day that will change: just be watching and giving her enough space so you can see when it does.

Happy Sleeping!

Heather

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Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her Los Angeles-based sleep consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

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