Transitioning Baby to a Crib
“Given a choice, your brand-new baby would sleep in your arms, in a sling, or at your side for every single nap and all night long, every night. That’s because your baby is one smart cookie! What’s not to love about the warmth and security of loving arms and the comfort of a familiar heartbeat, not to mention delicious, comforting milk at the ready, especially if Mommy is breastfeeding?” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns.
Many well-intended new parents end up co-sleeping (at least in part) out of sheer necessity. Sleep deprivation is a nasty, nasty thing. If allowing baby to sleep (safely) in bed with you — or in her own space right next to your bed (in a bassinet or co-sleeper) — means a few extra winks for exhausted mom and dad, we are all about it. But like any new relationship, there comes a time when the hot and heavy gives way to everyone needing a little space to call their own. The newest American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines suggest baby should sleep in the same room with mom and dad for at least the first six months (ideally the entire first year of life).
Every family dynamic is different. You may want to allow baby to continue to sleep in your room forever. Or you might not. My six month old and I have been sleeping in the same room since we brought her home from the hospital. This has been very convenient for nighttime feedings and diaper changes. But recently, she has decided she wants to nurse and snuggle all night long; we are up every two hours, seemingly because she knows I am there and she can. (Before this, she was sleeping through the night.) I realize some of this could be related to a growth spurt, but I’m beginning to think she just likes special “mommy and me” time. Which would be great, during the day time when I’m not trying to sleep.
I’m thinking it’s time to move her to her crib in her nursery.
Elizabeth Pantley says as glorious as it is to hold a sleeping infant, and as wonderful as it is to sleep beside your baby (it is pretty wonderful), “this is a decision you should make with the future in mind, since the newborn months pass by in a haze, and before you know it you have a one-year-old who is still sleeping like a newborn.” She recommends that once baby falls asleep, at least once every day and every night, you should try putting baby down in her bassinet or crib right from the beginning. She says that when it comes to baby and sleep, you have to make conscious decisions — accidental parenting benefits no one.
And the longer you wait, the more resistance you are likely to encounter.
Tips to make the transition a tad bit easier…
1. If you can swing it, try rooming in with baby.
Move the crib from baby’s room to yours (temporarily). Once she becomes adjusted, move the crib back to baby’s room. If this isn’t an option (logistically or otherwise), try bunking up with baby, or even one of baby’s siblings. You could even put an air mattress or cot on the floor in baby’s room — anything to keep you from running up and down the stairs a million times in the middle of the night!
2. Make the transition in stages.
Start with putting baby down in her nursery (in her crib) at nap time, and see how she does. She may surprise you! (Or she may not.) Once she has mastered nap time, try putting her in her own bed, in her own room at bed time. Once baby is sleeping in her own crib full-time, DO NOT allow her back into your bed. You do not want her to regress.
3. If you haven’t already, establish a relaxing, nighttime routine.
Start with a warm bath, followed by a gentle massage (with baby lotion or oil), jammies, and a bedtime story. This lets baby know that it’s time for bed, in her crib. Try to avoid rocking her to sleep. She needs to start learning to self soothe, and self settle (if she hasn’t already). Don’t get me wrong — a little rocking is okay. But it’s best to put baby down in her crib (somewhat) awake.
4. Don’t drop and dash.
Try lingering for awhile. You may find you need to replace the pacifier in her mouth, adjust her blankets, whisper sweet nothings in her ear a couple of times before she dozes off — so why not make yourself comfortable? Try sitting in a chair in baby’s room. This can also make for some quiet, relaxing time for you, mom! Have a cup of tea, read a couple pages in a new book. Try to enjoy yourself a bit. Placing baby in her crib and then running from the room may mean you have to come back (over and over). So just stay put.
5. Soothe baby to sleep with white noise or lullabies.
We are so excited to try Whisbear! This cuddly little bear recognizes baby’s cry and automatically switches on (a calm, humming sound, similar to a hair dryer), that fades after 40 minutes, when baby is asleep. And the magnets in Whisbear’s paws easily grab onto a stroller handle, crib side, or even a diaper bag — making Whisbear cute, functional, and convenient! (When it comes to baby gear, these are some of our favorite qualifiers.)