Baby Cries When Put Down To Sleep: Reasons And What To Do


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Does your baby cry when put down? It is a common complaint that most parents voice. At first, it might seem adorable, but as time passes, such dependency can create sleep deprivation in babies and affect parents’ sleep. So, what should you do if your baby cries the moment you put them down?

To understand what to do, you first need to determine why your baby cries as soon as they are out of your arms. In this post, we discuss the possible reasons and tell you ways to stop your child from crying when put down.

Possible Reasons A Baby Cries When Put Down

The reasons for a baby crying when put down could mostly be behavioral or habitual, and rarely would it be due to a medical condition. Here are a few possible reasons your baby cries when you put them down.

1. Separation anxiety

Your baby was nestled in your warm and cozy womb for nine months, and so it is natural for them to feel safe and comfortable in your arms. Right from when they are born, babies like to have skin-to-skin contact or be held in your arms. Separation anxiety is normal in babies. Studies suggest that nearly all babies between the ages of 18 months and three years have separation anxiety and are clingy to some extent (1).

So, if your baby is happy and content in your arms or lap but starts to wiggle and squirm as soon as you place them in a crib, it is most probably separation anxiety.

2. New crib or room

Babies need time to adjust to changes. Whether it is a new crib or their nursery, your baby might refuse to sleep in them initially. If they have been sleeping in your bed (in a co-sleeping crib) for a while, and you have now decided to shift them to their new crib in the nursery, they might cry as their body senses the new surroundings.

3. Nursing

Your baby falls asleep in your lap while nursing, but as soon as you put them down, they start to cry. Does this sound familiar? It is pretty common among newborns. As their belly starts to get full, they tend to drift off to sleep, and when they are disturbed from that position of comfort, they might start to cry.

4. Increased crying

If your baby cries excessively throughout the day, it might be due to colic, or they might be going through the purple crying period. Infantile colic is defined as fussing or crying for more than three hours per day, for more than three days of the week. It is a common and self-limiting condition (2).

Purple crying is a period when the baby may cry more each week between two and five months of age. This, too, resolves on its own (3).

5. Hunger

One of the prime reasons behind a baby crying is hunger. As newborns do not know any other way to communicate their needs, they tend to cry when hungry. Ensure your feeding schedule is on track and keep your baby’s belly full.

6. Absence of a routine

Babies sleep peacefully when they settle into a routine. When they are fed or put down to sleep at the right time, they are less likely to cry and fuss. This could be because they have clear expectations regarding their nap time or mealtime.

7. Need for attention

Sometimes, older babies fuss and cry when put down to grab your attention. If your baby is accustomed to being carried around, they might cry when you put them down or leave them alone.

If the reason behind your baby’s crying is behavioral or physiological, you can resolve it by following some simple steps. However, if your baby cries excessively, and it interferes with their sleep and feed schedule, it is best to consult your pediatrician.

How To Put Your Baby To Bed Without Them Crying

With small changes and a little more patience, you can train your baby not to cry when you put them down. It is essential to teach them how to self-soothe so that both you and the baby can have a good night’s sleep.

  • Sleep train them. There are various methods to sleep train your baby and help them fall asleep without crying when you put them down. Sleep training also helps your little one develop self-soothing skills. You could opt for either of these two sleep training methods: the ‘cry it out,’ method or the ‘no tears,’ method. Choose the one that is comfortable for you and your baby.
  • Put them in the crib in a half-sleep state. If your baby tends to fall asleep while nursing, and it leads to separation anxiety in them, put them in the crib when they are in a half-sleep state, meaning when they are on the verge of drifting into a deep sleep.
  • Use soothing techniques. Your baby would cry when you move them from a comfortable position (within your arms or lap); this is normal. The best way to stop this habit of theirs is by not rushing to them and taking them into your arms as soon as they start to cry. Try to soothe them by placing them inside the crib and gently patting them.
  • Accustom them to the new crib slowly. If your baby is used to co-sleeping, it could be a challenge to make them stop crying when put down. Make the transition gradual, one step at a time. Take the baby into the room or crib before their naptime, read them a book while they lie in the crib, or show them around in the nursery until it is their bedtime. This would familiarize them with the nursery, and they may not cry once you put them down.
  • Dream feed them. If the reason behind your baby’s crying is hunger, try dream feeding them one last time before you go to bed. This may help your baby sleep through the night without feeling hungry.
  • Stick to a routine. A feeding or bedtime routine can do wonders for your baby. Create a routine and stick to it. This would let your baby associate sleep or feeding with the routine and make them less dependent on you. A routine will also ensure that you do not miss your baby’s sleep window.
  • Give them a massage or a bath. Oil massage or a warm relaxing bath may also help soothe your baby. This will also give them the needed physical touch to make them feel secured and safe.
  • Spend time with them. Do not make it a habit to carry your baby around, as this will make them dependent. Instead, place them on a play mat or a baby carrier, and let them play independently. If they cry, you can sit and play with them for some time to make them feel safe and comfortable.

Trying to stop your baby from crying when put down requires a lot of patience. No matter how difficult the situation gets, remember that your baby is not crying to annoy you when you put them down to sleep or rest. They just do not know how to self-soothe or make themselves feel safe.

Never resort to punishing, yelling, or shaking your baby when they cry. Instead, give them time and space to adjust to new changes. Also, do not make the transition from co-bedding to crib suddenly; give them sufficient time and be with them until they are comfortable sleeping independently.


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