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Baby Cries When Put Down: Why It Happens and What You Can Do

Baby Cries When Put Down Why It Happens and What You Can Do

If you’ve hung around babies long enough, you might realize that putting a baby down to sleep is a common trigger for crying. 

It can be frustrating and heartbreaking to hear their cries — particularly when you’ve ruled out hunger, wetness, or pain as the cause.

However, here are a few other reasons which can cause babies to cry:

  • They want to be close to you.
  • They were startled.
  • They’re going through a period of PURPLE crying.
  • Inability to self-soothe.

Read this article and learn more about the underlying causes of your baby’s tears when put down. I’ll also be sharing with you some tips I’ve learned on how you can calm them down.

Why Does My Baby Cry When I Put Them Down?

Why Does My Baby Cry When I Put Them Down?

Aside from hunger, wetness, and pain, here are four reasons why your baby might be crying when put down:

1. They Want to Be Close to You

Babies are born with a strong need for physical contact and closeness. 

Babies cry when put down because they want to feel safe and secure sleeping close to you.

They seek the comfort and reassurance of your presence, touch, and scent. This reminds them of the warmth and safety they experienced in the womb. 

You can respond to their closeness needs through holding, skin-to-skin contact, and gentle soothing. 

2. They Startle

Babies have a reflex called the Moro reflex, which causes them to fling their arms and legs out and cry. 

When babies startle and cry, it’s a natural response to this unexpected sensory stimulus. 

This reflex can be triggered by loud noises or sudden movements, which can wake your baby. 

That’s why knowing when you can put babies to sleep on their stomachs is equally important. This position lets them feel secure and bundled up, like when they were in the womb.

3. They’re Going Through a Period of PURPLE Crying

PURPLE crying is a normal phrase where newborns cry uncontrollably, often appearing inconsolable. Babies experience this intense crying between the ages of 2 and 4 months. 

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) coined the PURPLE crying acronym.

  • P – Peak of crying
  • U – Unexpected
  • R – Resists soothing
  • P – Pain-like face
  • L – Long-lasting
  • E – Evening

This can be overwhelming, but this is a temporary developmental stage that your baby will outgrow.

You can read more about PURPLE crying here.

4. Inability to Self-Soothe

Babies lack the ability to self-soothe until they are older. Until then, newborns rely on you to help them get the right amount of sleep or calm down when upset. 

They may cry when you leave because they depend on you for comfort.

Parents may consistently intervene and resettle them instead of allowing them to sleep on their own.

This makes babies associate you with falling asleep and rely on you to recover.

Tips to Help Your Baby Stop Crying When You Put Them Down

Tips to Help Your Baby Stop Crying When You Put Them Down

There are several tips you can try when it comes to helping your baby stop crying when you put them down, 

However, finding what works best for your child may take constant trial and error. Still, it’s best to know what things you can do for them:

1. Swaddle Them

Swaddling mimics the familiar feeling of being in the womb. This can help babies feel secure and comfortable.

This helpful technique involves snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket. 

You can try these swaddling tips:

  • Use a soft, lightweight blanket to prevent overheating.
  • Ensure the swaddle is snug but not too tight.
  • Keep your baby’s arms bent at their sides for comfort.
  • Avoid swaddling if your baby shows signs of overheating.
  • Stop swaddling once your baby begins rolling over.

2. Establish Sleep Patterns Early On

You should become familiar with the cues and signals that your baby wants to rest. This helps you establish sleep patterns early on for babies so they learn to fall asleep independently.

Doing so can also create a sense of predictability and security.

A bedtime routine can help signal your baby that it is time to wind down and go to sleep. 

The routine should be calming and relaxing and include the same activities each night. You can incorporate activities like bathing, reading, and singing into your baby’s bedtime routine.

Most importantly, be consistent with your bedtime routine and sleep schedule.

3. Rock Them Asleep to Music

Rocking a baby to sleep with music can be a soothing and relaxing way to end the day.

The gentle melodies and soothing rhythms of lullabies can help create a calm and peaceful environment conducive to sleep.

Creating a calm, relaxing environment can also help soothe your baby and reduce crying. As such, ensure the room is dark, quiet, and cool.  

You may also want to use a white noise machine or fan to block out distracting noises. Just ensure that any white noise you use isn’t too loud either.

4. Nurse Them

Nursing babies before putting them down can help prevent crying and promote a smoother transition to sleep. 

It also provides nourishment and comfort to your baby.

Breastfeeding releases hormones that induce relaxation and sleepiness. That’s why it is an effective way to soothe and calm your baby. 

Sometimes, you’ll notice that babies even fall asleep while nursing.

Close physical contact and skin-to-skin interaction during nursing also promote security and connection. This reduces the likelihood of a baby crying when put down. 

5. Use a Bouncer or Swing

Bouncers and swings can provide babies with a safe and comfortable relaxing place. 

They keep babies in a secure position and often have features that can help soothe babies. These include vibration, white noise, or music.

Bouncers and swings can also tire babies out. 

The movement of the bouncer or swing can help to stimulate babies and get them moving, which can help them to fall asleep more easily.

Therefore, putting your babies on a swing or bouncer can make them stop crying.

6. Try Sleep Training for Older Babies

Sleep training for older babies can help them stop crying when put down. This promotes self-soothing skills and establishes healthier sleep patterns. 

This is also when babies can fall asleep independently and soothe themselves during brief awakenings. 

Wait until your baby is 6 months or older before starting sleep training. 

Room temperature is vital in creating a conducive sleep environment for your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

In these FAQs, you’ll surely find answers to common questions about why babies cry when put down.

Additionally, I have provided more practical strategies to help soothe and comfort your baby.

How Long Should I Let My Baby Cry When I Put Them Down?

Letting your baby cry in a safe place, like a crib, for about 10 to 15 minutes can benefit them. 

Some babies need to cry before falling asleep, and giving them time to self-soothe can lead to faster sleep. 

However, always ensure their safety and comfort while allowing them this brief period to settle themselves.

If your baby is still crying after that, go back in and comfort them. You can also try to soothe them by talking or singing to them from a distance.

What’s the Right Way of Putting a Baby Down?

Always place them on their back — not the stomach or side. 

This is an important practice recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1992. It has since then significantly reduced the risk of SIDS.  

Use a firm, flat sleep crib mattress to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. Avoid using pillows, blankets, or other soft objects or toys in the crib.

These items can increase the risk of suffocation. Instead, use a fitted sheet that fits snugly over the mattress.

Regardless of whether your baby moves around in their sleep or not, crib bumpers are also not recommended.

At What Age Should Babies Stop Crying When They’re Put Down?

Most babies tend to cry less when put down for sleep when they’re around 4 to 6 months old.

That’s because this is usually when babies typically start getting familiar with the world around them and learn to self-soothe.

However, there’s really no definite answer to this question. The age at which babies stop crying when put down varies from child to child. 

Some children can even literally sleep in just seconds while bottle feeding.

Nonetheless, healthy sleep habits, comfort, and responding to their needs help babies cry less when put down. 

How Do I Know My Baby Has Colic?

A healthy baby may have colic if they cry or are fussy for several hours daily for no obvious reason.

Babies with colic often have red faces, clenched fists, and arched back. They may also pass gas or have a distended stomach.

To help identify if your baby has colic, keep an eye out for the following indicators:

  • Crying or fussiness lasting more than 3 hours for straight 3 days.
  • Crying or fussiness is unrelated to hunger, pain, or other obvious causes.
  • Increased crying or fussiness in the evening.

If you are concerned that your baby may have colic, seek your baby’s doctor. They can rule out any other possible causes of your baby’s crying and offer tips on coping with colic.

Conclusion

It’s perfectly common for babies to cry when they are put down. 

This could be due to reasons such as separation anxiety, discomfort, or not being ready to sleep.

However, there are several ways you can soothe them. Then, they’ll also learn to soothe themselves and be more independent through time.  

Josie Mariano
Josie Mariano

Hello, my name is Josie Mariano, and I’m proud to say I’m a soon-to-be mom.
Although my partner and I are still waiting for our firstborn to arrive, we’re already doing whatever it takes to prepare for our baby’s needs.
I’ve been joining a lot of parenting forums and asking my doctors for advice on how to prepare for my baby. They’ve all been very informative and I was able to spot the areas I still need to work on.
At the same time, I also rely on my mom for tips on what to do during my pregnancy journey.
With everything that I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share these experiences to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents!