At some point most parents will need to transition their baby to a crib. For some, this might turn out to be an easy and smooth transition, while for other parents it will be a struggle.
For me, our twins took to their crib easily, while our singleton really did not like transitioning to his crib.
So, what are some hacks you can use to make transitioning your baby to a crib easier? In this post I will review when to move your baby to a crib and how to transition your baby to a crib in his own room.
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When Should Baby Sleep In Crib In Own Room?
Before discussing how to transition baby to a crib, it is important to discuss when you should move your baby to the crib.
There are a few questions that will help determine the right time for your family.
- How old is your baby?
- Are you comfortable having your baby sleep in a separate room? This assumes the crib is in the nursery and not in your room.
- Does your baby still fit in the bassinet or other sleeping device?
Regarding your baby’s age, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends having your baby sleep in the same room as you until at least 6 months of age.
Now, when my twins were babies, the AAP recommended keeping babies in the same room with parents until only 12 weeks old. And, I will say I felt a huge weight was lifted when I moved them to their own room at this time.
I am by no means saying you should go against the AAPs advice, but I do think there are circumstances where moving your baby prior to 6 months old might make sense.
For instance, if you are unable to get much of any sleep every night with a baby next to your bed, then it could be just as dangerous to be caring for a baby day in and day out under complete exhaustion.
In this case, maybe it would be better to move your baby to his own room.
What if you can’t fit a crib in your room? I know that was the case for us. If you want to keep your baby in your room you could set up a pack n play, which is smaller than a crib.
However, even a pack n play could be too large, if you have a small bedroom.
In my opinion, the 6 month recommendation from the AAP can be tough for parents to make happen. So, if you do transition your baby to a crib in own room before 6 months, I would definitely invest in a video baby monitor.
When Is Baby Too Big For Bassinet?
Another snag with the AAPs recommendation? Your baby is likely to outgrow his bassinet before 6 months old.
Bassinets are only safe until your baby can roll over or sit up. On average babies roll over at 4 to 6 months old.
Additionally, bassinets vary in their weight limits. So, this is another thing to consider when moving baby to a crib.
In conclusion, trying to answer exactly when your baby should sleep in a crib in his own room is tricky. We know the AAP recommends keeping your baby in your room until 6 months old.
But, for the various reasons discussed, this is not always feasible. So, I would recommend transitioning your baby to a crib in own room between 3 months old and 6 months old. The timing would depend on your family’s situation.
And, if you are able to swing keeping your baby in your room until 6 months, then I would aim for that.
How To Start The Transition To The Crib
So, how do you transition a baby to a crib in his own room easily? Start with naps!
This sleep schedule for 3 month olds explains why you will have plenty of opportunities to practice with naps at this age.
I recommend having your baby start with napping in the crib at first due to personal experience.
During the first 6 months, naps for my twins took place in all different locations, the Pack N Play, their cribs, their car seats, bouncers, etc. However, with our singleton, he mostly only napped in his bassinet.
I believe that I unknowingly got the twins used to sleeping in different environments. Whereas, with our singleton, he was not happy to adjust to a new sleeping environment because he had never done it before.
This kind of happened by chance, when our singleton arrived, we had 2 year old toddlers running around the house. This meant limited napping space for a newborn.
Quite often he would nap upstairs in his bassinet. On top of that, we did not get his room and crib ready before he was born.
We knew he would be sleeping in our room at first, so we didn’t feel rushed to set it up before he was born.
If I were to do it all over again, I would have had my baby’s crib and nursery ready ahead of time. That way he could have spent time napping in his crib and in his own room earlier on.
With that being said, I highly recommend having your newborn nap in the crib as much as possible.
This way, when it is time for your baby to start sleeping in the crib at night, it will not seem like such a big change.
Our singleton did take most of his naps in his crib from 3 months on. Even so, he still did not sleep well in his crib at night. But, he would sleep just fine in his bassinet at night, which had been moved into the nursery. More on this a little bit later.
The Importance Of Newborn Sleep And Swaddling
Swaddling your newborn will help him sleep through Moro reflexes. I know some parents swear their baby hates being swaddled. And, I can’t speak for every situation because parents know their babies the best.
But, I can share my story. My husband and I both thought one of our twin girls hated swaddling too.
But, she also wasn’t sleeping well or in long stretches. We remembered a friend had given us a DVD called the Happiest Baby On The Block.
We watched and it explained how important swaddling is, even if you think your baby hates it.
So, we gave it a shot. We made the tightest swaddle we possibly could, or used one of our velcro swaddles.
We rocked and soothed her to sleep. And, voila after a few days of sticking with this method she was sleeping better!
Eventually through the night or nap she would slowly break just her arms out. But, by then she was sleeping more deeply, so most of the time it wasn’t an issue.
I bring up swaddling because teaching your baby good sleeping habits as a newborn will help when it’s time to transition to a crib. Using swaddling can be an important step to accomplish this.
On top of that, many times the transition to the crib is also the time your baby becomes too big to be swaddled.
How To Stop Swaddling Baby
In addition to switching to a crib in a new room, this often coincides with the transition away from swaddling.
This is why when the time comes to transition baby to a crib in own room, I very highly recommend the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. All my kids have used it and slept well with it. It has been a great device to transition out of the swaddle.
Additionally, even though it is marketed as a swaddling transition product, I like it even better for transitioning from a bassinet to a crib.
When moving baby to a crib, the sleeping space increases dramatically. This is particularly true if your baby is not swaddled anymore. It’s a huge change to your baby’s sleep space.
How To Transition Your Baby To A Crib From The Bassinet
Besides the Baby Merlin sleepsuit, what are some hacks you can use to help with transitioning baby to a crib?
The first step is to establish a baby bedtime routine. All this means, is doing the same thing every night before putting your baby to bed.
An example would be a diaper change, changing into pajamas, swaddling your baby, singing your baby a lullaby, then putting him down to sleep.
Do these exact steps every night, in the nursery, and over time your baby will start to understand these are cues that it’s time to go to sleep.
The second step is to move the bassinet (or whatever baby sleep device you have been using) into the nursery. Let your baby sleep in the bassinet, in the nursery, for 2-3 nights. If the device your baby has been sleeping in isn’t portable, then just skip this step.
The last step, is the big move to the crib. Try putting your baby to sleep in the crib for the night. Hopefully, it’s a smooth transition and your baby sleeps well for you. However, if your baby struggles, keep reading.
Hacks To Get Your Baby To Sleep In The Crib
There are two other things I want to mention that I think will help your baby sleep without being held.
The first one is to have a sound machine in the nursery. Hearing white noise reminds babies of the being in the womb. This can help them sleep longer.
As babies get older, into the toddler years, the noise machine is also helpful to drown out other noises around the house, that might otherwise wake them up.
I also recommend investing in cordless blackout shades. Blackout shades prevent light from shining through the windows.
They can help your baby sleep through the night by getting him or her to sleep longer in the morning when the sun comes up. They also help during nap time when it’s light out.
If All Else Fails, Sleep Train Your Baby
The last thing you can try, to get your baby to sleep in the crib, is sleep training. This is what we had to do with our third baby. We used what is commonly referred to as the “cry it out” method. Implementing “cry it out” will depend on your comfort level.
Letting your baby cry is incredibly difficult, BUT, it only lasts 2-3 nights and after that both baby and parents are happier because they are both getting more sleep.
It is NOT recommended to let your baby cry until he or she is at least 4 to 6 months old. In my personal experience, I was not comfortable letting my babies cry it out at bedtime until they were at least 6 months old.
If you choose to use this sleep training method, my recommendation is to make sure you feel comfortable before trying it. It will be HARD!
Be sure you have a plan that you can stick to. If you are not fully committed to cry it out sleep training, it will not work. And, it will be a waste of time.
I will say that after 3 nights, it’s a very successful technique for getting your baby to sleep. I felt it was definitely worth it in order to get my baby sleeping well in his crib.
What To Do If Your Baby Is Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night
You can also use the cry it out method if your baby is waking consistently in the middle of the night. This was what we had to do with one of our twins.
She would fall asleep in her crib no problem. But, after being asleep for an hour or two, she would wake up crying.
The only way to settle her was to hold her until she feel asleep. When, we would try to put her back down in her crib, sometimes it was fine.
But, more often than not, she would wake up again crying. We would have to hold her and start the whole process over again. This became exhausting because we would spend hours or sometimes the whole night holding her to try to get her to sleep.
So, we decided to try the cry it out method to get her sleeping in her crib through the entire night. And, by day 4 it had worked!
Final Thoughts On Moving Baby To The Crib
I have created a simple list to summarize the hacks you can use to transition your baby out of a bassinet and into a crib.
- Set up the nursery and crib before baby is born
- Have your newborn sleep in the crib, for some naps, from the time you bring him home
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Move the bassinet (or other portable baby sleep device) to the nursery
- Use a Baby Merlin sleepsuit for both transitioning out of swaddling and transitioning into the crib
- If you’re comfortable, and it’s necessary, sleep train your baby using the cry it out method
- Stick with your plan for at least 3 to 5 days
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