How to Get a Newborn To Sleep in a Bassinet - Canadian Edition

Navigating the early stages of parenthood in Canada includes the crucial task of establishing a safe, comfortable sleep environment for your newborn. How to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet is a common question and many parents face the challenge of getting their baby to sleep in a bassinet. This comprehensive guide offers in-depth advice and Canadian-specific tips to help your newborn embrace bassinet sleeping, ensuring both safety and comfort.


Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns:

Newborns typically require 16-17 hours of sleep per day, distributed in short bursts. This irregular pattern is normal but can be challenging. Understanding and respecting these natural rhythms is the first step in establishing a healthy and a safe sleep routine and mastering how to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet. Newborns often do not differentiate between day and night, which can lead to erratic sleep schedules. It's important to be patient and remember that this phase is temporary and part of your newborn baby's development. Gradually, with consistent routines and cues, your baby will start to adapt to more predictable sleep patterns.

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Addressing Common Reasons for Resistance:

  1. Discomfort: Ensure the bassinet mattress is firm and the room temperature is maintained between 20-22°C. Dress your baby in season-appropriate clothing, considering Canada’s diverse climate. A too soft or uneven mattress can cause discomfort, leading to resistance. Check for any signs of discomfort in your baby, such as fussiness or difficulty settling down. The bassinet should be a cozy, inviting space, so consider adding a fitted sheet that's soft to the touch for a safe sleep.
  1. Reflux and Gas: Babies with reflux may feel discomfort lying flat. Keep your baby upright after feeding and consult a pediatrician for management strategies. Gentle burping and a proper feeding position can alleviate discomfort. If reflux is severe, your doctor might suggest specific treatments or adjustments in feeding practices. It's crucial to address these issues as they not only affect sleep but also your baby's overall well-being. Find more on caring for babies with GERD.
  1. Startle Reflex: Swaddling can help mitigate the Moro reflex, making the bassinet more comforting. Ensure the swaddle is snug but allows for hip movement. The startle reflex is a natural response in newborns and can often wake them from sleep. Proper swaddling can mimic the security of the womb, reducing the frequency and intensity of startle responses. However, it's important to follow safe swaddling practices to avoid any risks, such as hip dysplasia
  1. Preference for Being Held: Gradually introduce the bassinet, starting with daytime naps. This helps your baby associate the bassinet with sleep. Babies often prefer the warmth and comfort of being held, which is a natural preference stemming from the womb experience. Transitioning to the bassinet can be made smoother by replicating some of these comforting aspects, like warmth and gentle motion. You might also try placing a worn shirt of yours in the bassinet to provide a familiar scent.

Safe Sleep Practices:

Adhere to guidelines set by the Canadian Pediatric Society: a firm, flat surface, no loose items in the bassinet, and room-sharing without bed-sharing. This approach minimizes the risk of SIDS and establishes a safe sleep environment. The bassinet should be placed in a safe, clutter-free area, away from window cords or other potential hazards. Regularly inspect the bassinet for any signs of wear or damage that could pose a risk. Educate all caregivers on these safe sleep practices to ensure consistency and safety for your baby. Here is safe sleeping information from the Canadian Pediatric Society

Optimizing-the-Sleep-EnvironmentPractical Solutions for a Smooth Transition:

- Consistent Use of Bassinet: Regularly using the bassinet for both naps and nighttime sleep builds familiarity and comfort. Consistency is key in helping your baby understand that the bassinet is a safe place for sleep. Try to avoid alternating sleep locations too frequently, as this can confuse your baby's sense of routine.

- Swaddling Techniques: Learn effective swaddling techniques to provide a womb-like environment, reducing startle-induced wakefulness. Swaddling should be done in a way that allows for some movement, especially in the hip area, to promote healthy hip development. It's also important to monitor your baby's temperature when swaddled to prevent overheating/

- Optimizing the Sleep Environment: Maintain a calm, dimly lit room. Consider using white noise machines to mimic comforting womb sounds, which can be particularly soothing in the quieter Canadian nights. The sleep environment should be conducive to sleep, which means avoiding overstimulation. Soft, ambient lighting and a comfortable room temperature can significantly impact your baby's ability to fall and stay asleep. Find more on a good sleeping environment from the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

Parental Guidance and Habit Formation:

- Observation and Patience: Learn to understand different cries and needs. Allow your baby a few minutes to self-soothe before intervening. This helps in developing self-soothing skills, which are crucial for long-term sleep success. However, it's important to respond to your baby's needs for comfort and feeding, especially in the early weeks.

- Timing Sleep Right: Pay attention to 'awake times' and look for signs of tiredness to avoid overtiredness, which can make sleep more challenging. An overtired baby often finds it harder to settle down and may become more restless. Keeping a log of your baby's sleep can help you identify patterns and optimal sleep times. Read more on how much do babies sleep from

- Gradual Introduction: Start with the easiest nap of the day in the bassinet and gradually increase bassinet use. Comfort your baby in the bassinet with gentle pats or soft humming. This gradual approach reduces the abruptness of the transition and allows your baby to slowly acclimate to the new sleep environment.

Personal Experiences and Testimonials:

Here’re a few short stories from Canadian parents who had to find how to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet  and successfully transitioned their newborns to a bassinet. Learn how they did it, the challenges they faced and the learnings they had.

Emma's Story (Toronto, ON): "As a first-time mom, the challenge of getting my son to sleep in his bassinet felt overwhelming. I tried everything from adjusting room temperature to different swaddling techniques. Finally, a consistent bedtime routine and a soothing white noise machine did the trick. It wasn't instant, but with patience and persistence, we made it work. Now, bedtime is a peaceful experience for both of us."

Liam's Journey (Vancouver, BC): "Our daughter just wouldn't settle in her bassinet. Night after night, we struggled. We realized we needed a more structured approach. Swaddling her snugly and keeping the room comfortably cool made a huge difference. We also found that a gentle patting routine helped soothe her. It's important to remember that each baby is unique, and finding the right combination of techniques can really change the game."

Sophie's Experience (Montreal, QC): "I was close to giving up on the bassinet, but then I joined a local parents' group in Montreal. Sharing experiences and tips was incredibly helpful in finding out how to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet. I learned the importance of a calm, dark sleep environment and started using a wearable blanket for my baby. It took some trial and error, but eventually, we found our rhythm. Now, she sleeps peacefully in her bassinet, and I'm getting much-needed rest too!"

Aiden's Success Story (Calgary, AB): "As a dad, I wanted to be actively involved in solving our son's sleep issues. We tried various strategies, but what worked for us was a combination of a warm bath before bed, a soft lullaby, and placing the bassinet next to our bed at the same height. This way, our son could see us and feel reassured. It's amazing how small changes can lead to big improvements in sleep habits."


Q: How long should I try to get my newborn to sleep in the bassinet before seeking help?

A: It's normal for this process to take some time. Give it a few weeks of consistent effort. If you're still struggling, consider consulting a pediatrician or a sleep specialist for guidance.

Q: Can I place toys or a mobile in the bassinet to soothe my baby?

A: While toys and mobiles can be stimulating and entertaining, it's best to keep the bassinet free of these items during sleep times. They can pose a safety risk and distract your baby from sleeping.

Q: Is it safe to use sleep aids like pillows or wedges in the bassinet?

A: No, it's important to keep the bassinet clear of pillows, wedges, and loose bedding to reduce the risk of SIDS and ensure a safe sleep environment. Always follow safe sleep guidelines.

Q: How can I tell if my baby is too cold or too hot in the bassinet?

A: Check your baby's neck or back. If they're sweaty, they may be too hot. If the skin feels cool, they might need another layer. The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

Q: Should I let my baby cry it out in the bassinet?

A: The 'cry it out' method is a personal choice and may not be suitable for newborns. Newborns cry to communicate needs, so it's important to respond to them. As they grow older, you can gradually encourage self-soothing.

Q: How do I transition my baby from sleeping in my arms to the bassinet?

A: Start by creating a soothing environment in the bassinet, like using a warm swaddle and soft white noise. Gradually increase the time your baby spends in the bassinet each day. You can begin by placing them in the bassinet when they're drowsy but awake.

Q: What are the best ways to soothe my baby in the bassinet?

A: Soothing techniques include gentle patting, soft lullabies, swaddling, and a consistent pre-sleep routine. Each baby is different, so you may need to try a few methods to see what works best.

Q: Can feeding my baby right before putting them in the bassinet help them sleep?

A: Yes, a well-fed baby is more likely to sleep soundly. However, avoid overfeeding and ensure you burp your baby properly to prevent discomfort from gas.

Q: How important is room temperature for bassinet sleep?

A: Maintaining a comfortable room temperature is crucial. A room that's too hot or too cold can disrupt your baby's sleep. Aim for a temperature that's comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

Q: When should I move my baby from a bassinet to a crib?

A: Most babies transition from a bassinet to a crib around 3-6 months of age, but this can vary. Consider switching when your baby begins to roll over, outgrows the bassinet, or seems uncomfortable in it.



Mastering how to get a newborn to sleep in a bassinet is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and consistency. By creating a conducive sleep environment, recognizing and addressing common issues, and practicing safe sleep habits, you can help your baby achieve peaceful and safe sleep. Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay flexible and responsive to your baby’s needs, and don't hesitate to consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.