How to Transition Baby to Crib?

If you’re in that stage now where what you have been doing to ensure your baby sleeps well is no longer working, then your little one may be ready to use their crib.

Many parents can’t imagine sleeping separately after months of getting used to their baby sleeping right next to them in a bassinet. You might feel less secure of having your little one in a crib. You may be surprised to learn that parents’ emotional reaction to this transition is its biggest hurdle. 

Also, babies are highly dependent on routines and may also not warm up to the idea at first. There may be a few tired nights in your future with your baby stirring up a storm of wailing and crying. But relax, ultimately, this transition should be good for the entire family. 

We bring you some tried and tested advice to make the change easier for everyone in the family.

Read Related Article: When to Move Baby to a Crib?

Ensure Safety Measures are Taken:

When you make the decision to transition, make sure the baby’s crib is as safe as possible by keeping in mind the following:

  • The crib shouldn’t have any loose, broken or sagging pieces
  • Use a firm mattress
  • When putting your baby in the crib, make sure they are only placed on their backs to sleep
  • Don’t cover your baby with a blanket or comforter
  • Don’t place stuffed toys in the crib
  • Bumper pads can be potentially dangerous are often unnecessary

Babies will happily sleep wherever you put them eventually.  

Here are a few ideas to help with the transition if you’re worried that any change to the bedtime routine will cause your little one to have trouble sleeping.

Take Baby Steps: 

Many parents learn their baby’s needs while co-sleeping in the first couple of months. A baby typically will have more predictable sleeping and feeding patterns around two months of age. This is a great time to start working toward the transition.

  • Get your baby comfortable and accustomed to the crib. Bring the crib into your room and let your baby sleep there as soon as possible. This way they will start forming a positive sleep association with the crib.
  • As your baby is usually more tired towards the end of the day – when bedtime comes around -, so it’s easier to start the transition at night time vs. naptime. Start small and take time.
  • Make the switch in stages. Once bedtime is going well start with nap time in the crib during the day for a couple of weeks or bedtime on weekends until they get used to it. Then complete the transition so that your baby is sleeping in her crib all the time.
  • Laying your baby down when they are drowsy, but not fully asleep will help them learn to fall asleep without mom and dad’s help. This is the key to peaceful sleep throughout the night. In case they wake up at the night, they won’t need you to rock or feed them back sleep.

Create a Bedtime Routine:

Now is the time to establish some nighttime rituals like bath, book, snuggle, sleep. As these routine kicks in just before bed each night, they begin to signal to the baby that the crib awaits.   

First, keeping a calm, relaxed head about you is crucial even though the location of sleep is changing. Kids can easily pick up on parents’ discomfort in a new situation and that might add to them resisting the transition. 

Second, make the crib part of your baby’s routine by starting before previously established sleep time. You can start adding time to daily routines like napping, feeding, and playing in the crib. This will help your baby gradually accept that the crib is a safe, secure part of the daily routine.

Third, spend time in the nursery every evening. Use the time to read to your baby, relax, or play. These soothing rituals will help make the separation easier.

Fourth, if your baby’s crib is in a different room, it’ll help if you either sleep there over a few nights or linger around till they slip into sleep. This will give your baby a chance to get comfy and get used to the idea of sleeping in their own space.

Most importantly, enjoy establishing and following these nighttime routines, as they are only going to give both you and your baby some peaceful sleep.

How to Familiarise Your Baby with the Crib?

Step 1: Consider keeping the crib in your room for a few nights. Once the baby becomes adjusted to sleeping in a bigger space, you can move the crib back to its proper location.  

Step 2: After the limited space of a bassinet, a crib might feel vast to a baby. It’ll be a new place with unfamiliar smells and feelings. You can make the baby feel safe and secure by adding a crib sheet in which you’ve slept in for a few nights. Adding mom or dad’s “smell” to the crib will make your baby feel comfortable, which in turn will ease the transition.

Step 3: Letting the baby spend a couple of hours in the crib outside of sleep time will help get them used to this new space.

Step 4: Keep swaddling if your baby feels lost in the crib. Swaddling helps babies feel secure and relaxed. It also helps them sleep on their backs which is the correct posture for the crib. Take care not to swaddle a baby who’s more than six months old or one who can already rollover.

Step 5: It is advised to not put big stuffed animals, pillows, bumpers, or even blankets until your baby is 12 months or older for safety reasons. You can still make the room more comfortable by dimming the lights and turning on some white noise.

Step 6: Warm a chilly crib sheet a bit with a heating pad (either plug-in or a rice-filled pad warmed in the microwave works well). By doing this you mimic the warmth your baby feels when snuggled up with mom or dad. This goes a long way in making them feel safe and secure in the new, bigger space.

Just test the heat with your inner wrist (just like you’d do with a bottle) before putting the baby down so it’s not too hot.

Stay Committed and Consistent:

Your will must be greater than your child’s. Stay committed to the transition process, because if you give up midway, you’ve lost all the ground you’ve covered. You should aim to follow similar routines across all sleep situations so that your baby knows what is expected. 

If the baby is at a daycare center, ask the caregivers to use the cribs for naps and then on weekends or days off be consistent in making sure you plan on naps being spent in their cribs. The more time your baby spends in the crib for naps and bedtime, the easier it will become over time.

This may be cause for a few rough nights of sleep but think of it like ripping a band-aid off. They may fuss, cry, or all-out scream, but it’s important you stay on course. Once you’ve put the baby down for the night, the best thing is to say good night and walk out. You can always set timers for specific durations when you return only to lay them back down, rub their back, and settle them back down.

Remember, this will work if the whole family is involved because consistency and habit change leads to changes in behavior.  

Soothing Motions, Sounds, and Touch:

Just because this transition might disrupt their standard sleep schedule, doesn’t mean you can’t rely on tested methods to help your baby.

Babies love parents rocking them to sleep, and just because your baby is ready for a crib doesn’t mean they are ready to give up on this. Neither should you, continue the familiar sensation of soothing motion to comfort your baby.

Keeping a white noise machine or an app around, both as you’re helping them fall asleep, and while they sleep. This will help drown out exterior noises and bring them back to the comfort and security of the womb. 

Transitioning to a crib is all about gradually helping them learn how to fall asleep by themselves. The baby might startle or stir as you put them down in the crib. So, you can help them settle back in the crib mattress by providing a bit of gentle pressure with your hand on their chest. This will help the baby know you are still “there” as they are dozing off. You can provide this soothing touch for as long as baby needs at first and ween them down from there.

Summarizing the Essential Points When Transitioning Your Baby from Bassinet to Crib:

  • You should sleep with your baby in the same room for the first year.
  • If the crib is too large to fit in your bedroom, set up a place to sleep in the nursery.
  • Have your baby spend some time in the crib every day.
  • Remember that babies need security, familiarity, and routine to feel safe.
  • When it’s time to sleep separately, ease your worries with a baby monitor.

Transitioning from bassinet to crib is a big step in your baby’s life. Be relaxed and positive about the change. This way, you can make the transition smooth, easy, and even fun. 

Read Another Related Article: When to Lower the Crib for Your Baby? 

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