Immediately after birth, your child needs constant care and attention, be it for breastfeeding or soothing. That’s why many new moms choose to keep their newborns close by once they arrive home from the hospital.
At a certain point, however, allowing your little one to graduate to a crib will mean more restful sleep for both of you. You’ll know the time is right if you take the following factors into account:
- Age: It’s generally a good idea to introduce a crib when your baby’s between 4 and 8 months old. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing for at least the first 6 months (and ideally, up to 1 year). Whether they’re in a bassinet, portable crib, or fixed crib, room-sharing lowers their chances for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by half.
- Size and weight: If you notice your infant’s begun to outgrow their bassinet, it’s likely to cause discomfort while they’re sleeping.
- Mobility: Is your baby already learning to roll over or sit up? If so, they could be moving around a lot more during the night. A sturdy, fixed crib that won’t tip over becomes a far safer alternative to the bassinet.
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It may feel like an uphill battle, but there are ways to help soften the blow for your little one. Just follow these five tips on how to transition your baby to a crib:
- Prepare the crib: maintain the feeling of warmth and comfort they’ve grown accustomed to. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and avoid laying your infant down on a cold mattress. Consider swaddling them (if they’re under 3 months of age) or putting them in a sleep sack. Eliminate any loose bedding or toys which could pose a safety hazard.
- Make the transition slowly: when making the big switch, patience is absolutely key. Try placing your baby down to nap in the crib in the daytime so they learn to associate it with sleeping. Do this every day for a few weeks before turning it into a permanent sleeping arrangement.
- Create a bedtime routine: establish a set routine to prepare them for sleeping in their crib. This could include a warm bath, breastfeeding, or putting on their pajamas. The more consistently you practice this routine, the more quickly they’ll be able to adapt to these changes.
- Soothe as needed: Early on, they may feel restless and wake up at various times throughout the night. Stand next to their crib, gently patting and soothing your child to reassure them of your presence, and lull them back to sleep.
- Put them down drowsy but awake: Experts recommend placing your infant in their crib before they’ve actually fallen asleep. If you allow them to doze off in your arms first, they tend to perceive the change in environment and wake up again.
What if your baby won’t sleep in a crib?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your baby won’t sleep in a crib and you’re both experiencing a lot of sleepless nights. Though frustrating, it’s important to note that similar to achieving milestones (like walking, talking, and eating solids), every baby moves at their own individual pace. Your little one could graduate to a crib as early as 3 months, or as late as 1 year.
Again, it varies from child to child, but the transition from crib to regular bed usually occurs between 18 months and 3 years. The best indicator of readiness is when your baby starts climbing out of their crib by themselves.
It’s common for first-time parents to wonder how to get your baby to sleep in a crib. The process requires you to exercise a great deal of patience and pay close attention to their comfort level. But ultimately, both you and your baby will be rewarded with better sleep.
If you’ve tried all of the above techniques and your newborn won’t sleep in a crib, it’s perfectly fine. Simply put the idea on the backburner for a while and try again later.