How To Get Newborn To Sleep In Bassinet 

Photographs taken in the perfect glow litter websites and baby magazines. The bassinets are beautiful, holding babies in peaceful slumber. Thus, expecting parents set up a lovely bassinet for their bundle of joy. But once the darling arrives, he or she makes it clear that the bassinet is anti-sleep-of-doom. It is enough to make new parents wonder if bassinets are just an expensive scam.

Begin teaching your newborn to sleep in their bassinet by setting them down when drowsy instead of fast asleep. If the baby can’t roll over yet, swaddling will make the child feel secure. It helps when the bassinet smells like mom or dad. Before putting a new sheet on the bassinet, sleep with it first.

New parents, like all parents, are given advice.

But when you have a baby, those well-meaning tips can storm in like an avalanche. Some you have to follow, such as placing a baby on their back to sleep. 

But then there is the rest, like swaddling, which may work for you and your baby or not.

It is all about trial and error and finding what suits you and the new addition to your family. 

Why Won’t Newborn Sleep In Bassinet? 

Once upon a time, a mother close to tears told her British nurse-midwife that she’d tried everything, went to all the classes, read all the books, “But nothing is working, and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” 

The midwife patted the new mother and said, “But my dear, the baby didn’t read the book.” 

Newborns often don’t sleep in bassinets because they don’t know how.

Nobody gave them the How to be a Baby handbook.

Instead, they lived in blissful ignorance while hanging out in a warm, wet swaddle of a uterus for around nine months and loved it.

The real world has gravity, new loud sounds, bright lights, and firm mattresses, all without the comfort of the mother’s steady heartbeat. 

Thus, new parents are their baby’s teacher and must guide this tiny confused person on how to sleep in this foreign contraption.

The perfect tip for one baby might not be for another.

Parents, this is hard. Be kind to yourself. Take breaks. Be patient: not just with the baby but with yourself. 

What To Do When Newborn Won’t Sleep In Bassinet?

When a baby doesn’t sleep in a bassinet, the first thing to do is to go through the “Baby Troubleshooting Checklist.” 

Thus, make sure:

  • Baby isn’t hungry
  • Baby isn’t gassy
  • Baby’s diaper is dry and clean
  • Baby’s temperature is like Goldilocks and not hot or cold, but “just right.”

Once you are certain all those common baby-woes are eliminated, start thinking wider. 

Make The Bassinet Smell Like You

Babies love their parents. The smell of them is comforting.

The smell of fresh, clean sheets, however, is not reassuring.

So, while cleanliness is to be applauded, new parents need to put on a less-than-fresh fitted sheet.

By that, it needs to smell like their parents. Therefore, make sure all clean bassinet bedding has spent some quality time with you. 

Some parents just stuff the baby sheet under their shirt for a few hours while watching TV.

Some just sleep with it under the covers of their own bed for a night or two.

Just enough to make it smell more like the people baby loves than whatever the sheet was washed in. 

Dim The Lights Around The Bassinet

Ideally, babies can sleep anywhere at any time.

But when it comes to trying to teach them that bassinets are for sleeping, sometimes you need to pull out the royal treatment.

Thus, darken the room and put a soft, adjustable light in a corner that won’t fall directly on the bassinet to help you see when in the room. 

Put On White Noise Near Bassinet

Babies like noise so long as it isn’t sharp and sudden.

Conversations between people around them are soothing until there is a burst of laughter.

Likewise, babies adore vacuums, fans, hairdryers, and the hum of a car’s engine.

Because in the womb, the baby heard steady noises that stayed at a fairly consistent volume. 

It’s the loud random bangs from construction workers, a blast of a horn, or a dropped frying pan that causes some babies to startle.

Parents can’t ask the world to be quiet.

So muffle it with white noise. But make sure it doesn’t play louder than 50 decibels.

Swaddle Baby Before Placing In Bassinet

Babies adore falling asleep while being held.

There are a few reasons babies love this, but one is that a caregiver’s arms are secure and cozy.

Since caregivers can’t simply set their arms in the bassinet with the baby and then go about their day, they have to do the next best thing: swaddling. 

Swaddling is excellent for babies that can’t yet rollover. (Once they can roll over, it is no longer safe.)

It keeps them feeling secure and safe.

So when it is getting close to sleep time, swaddle the baby.

Admittedly, the timing of swaddling can be tricky. Newborns are the worst about routines. But like everything, just do your best. 

Place Baby In Bassinet When Drowsy

Babies won’t learn to sleep in their bassinet if they only wake up there.

Plus, they have a startle reflex that often gets set off when set down. Thus, try putting the baby into the bassinet when drowsy but before fully asleep. 

Some parents find this goes better if the baby’s feet side is set before the head. The child feels more secure not having their head dip first. 

Some babies will also appreciate a bit of massage after being set down. This provides comfort, security, and helps turn drowsiness into sleep. 

Do I Need A Bassinet For My Newborn?

You don’t need a bassinet.

Many parents just use a crib since they last longer and are versatile.

Some cribs can even convert to toddler beds. Some can be converted further to be attached to the side of the parent’s bed. 

People like bassinets because they are portable and can be taken from room to room.

However, you can get “snuggle nests” or use your pack and play (travel crib) to provide sleeping areas in rooms where the crib isn’t set up. 

However, any snuggle nest or portable needs to meet the same standards as a crib or bassinet.

As the snuggle nests are not regulated like cribs, it is up to parents to inspect the device for safety. 

The nest or pack and play mattress must be firm, with no cracks.

Also, avoid snuggle nests with squishy, pillow-like sides or bases.

The best is more like a portable changing table with firm sides only at the top third and open everywhere else.

These should also only be used when the baby can’t roll. They must be placed on a firm surface, such as in the crib or even the floor. 

Remember: pillowy surfaces and sides are a hazard. 


Teaching a baby to sleep takes patience and trial by error.

As the nurse-midwife said, “The baby didn’t read the book” or this article.

You may try many white noise files before finding the perfect one.

Your baby might prefer sleep sacks to swaddling. Your darling may like a forehead massage instead of a tummy one.

Just be kind to yourself as you both learn. It will get easier.