I love co-sleeping with my baby; it’s a great bonding time for us, and my baby will sleep soundly with him attached to me. But, slowly, my back started aching, and I needed my space and sleep back. So, we decided to transition him to a crib as soon as possible. Although, if you decide to co-sleep with your kid, it is absolutely alright, this is just something we decided we wanted to do.
Transitioning a baby from your bed, away from your warmth and coziness, and into a crib can either be too easy or difficult. The best approach to transition your little one is by starting slow; set a bedtime routine, and your baby will soon get familiar to it and learn to sleep on her own. Many parents also try the ‘cold turkey’ approach, and sometimes it works for them. During this transition period, make sure you and your partner have no other major commitments or going through another transition like relocating or are too busy with work. For the baby to sleep in her own crib and for you to get your ‘good night’s sleep’, you’ll both need to take turns whenever your baby wakes up at night, and they will in the initial days till they’ll start sleeping throughout the night.
When is the best time to transition your baby to the crib?
It feels so great to look at those chubby cheeks, teeny tiny nose and the chest going up and down as your baby sleeps peacefully beside you, and before you know it, he turns on to your side, giving you absolutely no space to move and you topple down to the floor.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends mothers not to co-sleep with their baby due to the risk of SIDS, a recent study shows that over 60% of mothers sleep with their babies to make nighttime feeding easy and for mothers to get some sleep.
Being first-time parents, my husband and I got hardly any sleep in the initial stage when we kept our baby in his crib, but my mum suggested trying co-sleeping with our baby after taking proper safety precautions like keeping all pillows and blankets away from him, and what do you know? The three of us slept peacefully for the first time in 2 months.
The whole process of transitioning your baby from the bed to her crib can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days or maybe even more in some cases but remember that it’s okay if it takes more time.
The best time to transition your baby from your bed to her crib is when she is around the age of 6 to 8 months because at this age they have developed some level of mental and cognitive maturity through which they will not make the change to be too distressing.
Babies younger than this, say 3 to 4 months will have a difficult time to adjust to a sleep schedule and making a transition at this time can become hard because of their inability to understand the change and can result in a traumatic experience for them.
A 3 or 4-month-old baby has just learned that her mother responds to every cry of hers, so you can dare to attempt to establish a sleep schedule and make the transition now but be forewarned that your baby will test out the ‘calling my mommy theory’ through constant crying the whole night, making the transition too difficult for you.
Babies between the age of 6 and 8 months know when it is day and night, and therefore a nighttime routine or a bedtime routine can be established. They have even learned to self-soothe. If you have noticed your baby happily lies awake and coos after she wakes up compared to her crying upon waking.
How to transition your baby to the crib?
You can try different approaches and settle for the one that you and your baby are comfortable with.
Your baby is accustomed to sleeping cozily next to you and her surroundings, so you need to take one step at a time while making the transition like placing the crib in your room.
You can start with the day naps, place her in the crib during the day, and she gets used to it, you can slowly start making her sleep in the crib.
Place the crib beside your bed
If you want to keep your baby close to you at night but don’t want to co-sleep, then you can get one of those cribs that can be attached to the side of your bed.
This way, the baby is sleep in the same room within an arm’s reach, in a crib, and you get your space back. (I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone.)
Establish a bedtime routine so that your baby gets habituated and knows that it’s time to go to sleep. Keep dinner time at 6 or 7 in the evening and bedtime, not past 9 pm. Do this every day, so that your baby understands that she has to go to bed soon.
Setting a routine will help your baby familiarize with the nighttime ritual like have a bath, read a book, and then have a bottle; repeat this every day. Remember, that the first few days will be difficult, but slowly your little one will settle down and adapt to the routine.
Consistency is key
With babies, be it trying BLW (Baby Led Weaning), potty training, or sleep training, being consistent every day is essential.
If you’re making your baby sleep in the crib one day and sleep in the bed with you the next day, then she’s never going to sleep in the crib by herself, because according to her if she has the option of sleeping cozily next to you then why ever sleep in the crib.
Make sure that you and your partner are on the same page, rather than both parents trying different things.
Moving your baby from your bed to her crib is easy but for her to sleep in it throughout the night without putting up a fight is not at all easy. A transition doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time, effort, and a lot of patience (and some tears).
You cannot expect your baby to sleep peacefully in her crib on her own from the third day of the transition process itself. Your baby might or may not make the transition easy for you. But, as I always tell my readers, keep the ‘patient hat’ ready when dealing with a child.
Bunk with your baby
If you’re planning to move her crib into a different room, then it will take more efforts than just making her sleep in her crib in your room. You can start by familiarizing your baby with her surroundings. Play with your baby in her room and her crib during the day with her favorite toys. Take your baby in her room during daytime naps and gradually move into nighttime naps.
At the beginning of the transition, it will be easy to make her feel safe if you’re present in the room with her. This doesn’t mean you spend the entire night there, but only till she falls asleep. Then, as the days go by, leave the room after placing your baby in the crib and kissing her goodnight.
Tip: Try to start the transition process on a Friday, so that you can work more on it during the weekend, rather than being sleep exhausted during work.
Another famous approach is letting your child cry it out. Although most mothers are scared to try this, research shows that it works well with some kids. Many of my friends have tried out this method and have worked perfectly for them.
In this method, you still need to establish a bedtime routine and stick to it, after which place your baby in the crib when she’s drowsy and then leave the room. Don’t look back or stand the door or have a peek at them. They will eventually fall asleep.
So, is transitioning your baby to her crib difficult? Yes. But is it impossible? Well, no. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything for you; to lay down the facts, yes it can be a tad hard in the beginning, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Make sure to take out ample time for this transition, and let it not become a major and stressful change for the baby. Avoid making this transition during the time of illness, or teething, or when she’s reaching a milestone, potty training or when there’s a new sibling.
Expect resistance and a lot of tears, but know that your baby crying is fine because they can feel overwhelmed, fear, insecurity, and even separation anxiety. The transition for a baby from your bed to the crib can bring up major feelings not only for the baby but also for you. I remember I used to miss my little one even when he was only a foot away in his crib but remember that you’ll overcome it and be thankful for all the space and no more flailing arms and legs at night.
But, hey, if co-sleeping works best for you and your family then do that, because after all it’s your baby and you know what is best for your baby.
If you’re planning to transition your baby to her crib or have been already accomplished this, then do let us know in the comment section about what was your approach?
Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid, you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best’.