Jennifer is a former microbiologist turned mom, writer, and pet sitter. Jennifer, along with her husband, three boys (plus a menagerie of pets) live in North Carolina. She has written for websites including Scary Mommy, Pregnant Chicken, BabyGaga, Her View From Home.
Stress-Free Strategies for Transitioning Baby to Crib
Transitioning your baby to a crib can be an absolutely terrifying notion. It seems like they just started sleeping through the night and now you have to change their whole sleeping world?
I’ve transitioned three babies to cribs and I have to say, the last one was the easiest. Perhaps it’s because I learned something along the way. Perhaps I was just lucky with him. Either way, I’ll share some tips and tricks I’ve learned to get through this transitional period as smoothly as possible.
Find the Right Time
Don’t rush into anything. Trying to move your baby to a crib too soon may prove stressful for both you and the baby. Most babies will transition between three and six months. Wait until he or she is sleeping through the night or outgrows their bassinet or Rock N’ Play, whichever comes first.
Establish a Routine
In the first few months of newborn-hood, routine is something difficult to come by. You barely know what night and day means, let alone your baby.
Establishing a bedtime routine will help baby learn when it is time for sleep. A warm bath might start off the evening routine, followed by a book or song and a bedtime meal. Put baby down sleepy but awake in order to try to get them to learn how to fall asleep.
One thing you can do is to leave your scent in baby’s crib. You are the number one source of comfort to your baby and your unique smell is all it might take to comfort them. Try sleeping with the crib sheet on your pillow for a night or two then transfer it to baby’s crib.
Start with Crib Naps
One way to test whether your baby might be ready to sleep in a crib is to have them take naps in it for a few days. I did this with my last baby and he did really well. Now, this could be luck, but it let me know that he would actually fall asleep in the crib.
Make Baby’s Room Familiar
In order to help baby adjust to his or her new space, try to take some of the old into the new.
Start by placing the baby’s current sleeping accommodation inside the room before putting them into their new bed. It will get them used to the new location without being completely adrift on a huge (to them) mattress.
Another thing you can try is to leave your scent in baby’s crib. You are the number one source of comfort to your baby and your unique smell is all it might take to comfort them. Try sleeping with the crib sheet on your pillow for a night or two then transfer it to baby’s crib.
White noise is very soothing to babies. It blocks the noise of the rest of the house and allows them to fall asleep. White noise also mimics the sounds that baby heard for the first 9 months of their life in the womb.
While there are a ton of fancy choices out there, you don’t meet too many bells and whistles. A simple machine that can run all night will do the trick. We like this one from Amazon.
This one is the hardest of all. Your baby is going to cry. There is no way around that. The crib will be new to them and they won’t be as snuggly as in the Rock N’ Play or bassinet. It’s ok.
Try not to rush in to soothe every time the baby cries. If their needs are met, they must learn to self-soothe or you might have a terrible sleeper for life.
If you find this difficult, try setting a timer. Start at five minutes and if baby’s still crying, pick up and soothe but put back down and reset the timer. Increase the length of time on the timer each night until the baby manages to fall asleep by self-soothing. He or she eventually will. I promise!
I know how hard it can be to transition a baby to a crib. I kept my guys in the Rock N’ Play for way too long. My pediatrician recommended at my youngest’s four-month appointment to transition him to the crib. I was nervous but I did it, using these methods. And it worked!