New parents find themselves spending a lot of time figuring out how to help their baby sleep. Mostly because it greatly affects their own sleep. Where your baby sleeps is a large factor in how well-rested you both feel in the morning—and throughout the day.
As babies get older, bigger, and more eager to explore, the little bassinet they’ve been snuggled up in since birth doesn’t suit them anymore.
Making the transition from the bassinet to the crib is a big move. So, when is the right time and how do you go about it?
When to Move Your Baby to a Crib
During the first six months of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing with your infant, but not bed-sharing. AAP studies show this helps reduce the risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.
Sudden infant death syndrome is assigned to infant deaths when the cause cannot be explained, but the AAP’s recommendations have significantly lowered the occurrence of SIDS.
Somewhere in those six months, your baby will need to move from a bassinet to a crib. The first step in switching your baby’s sleep spot is recognizing when they’re ready.
Babies grow at lightning speed during their first year of life. Check frequently to make sure your baby is still within the height and weight limit set for the specific bassinet or co-sleeper you’re using. If you see that you’re quickly approaching those limits, it’s time to start getting the crib ready.
Around 3-4 months old, watch for your baby to start hitting big milestones. If your little one has learned to roll over, push up on their hands, or sit up on their own then they’re at risk of falling out of the bassinet.
Putting them into a crib to sleep keeps them safe and more comfortable as they continue to grow.
How to Make the Crib Transition Easier
So you’ve made the decision and you’ve set up your baby’s crib. Now, how do you start?
It’s important to have a game plan while still being flexible enough to adjust your strategy based on how your baby responds.
Here are some things to consider:
Transition Baby in Stages
Around the time you’ll be making the move to the crib is also the time your baby is becoming more aware of things that feel familiar and safe. Make small changes to help them feel comfortable in their new sleep space.
Start by laying your baby in their crib while they’re awake. A few minutes in the crib, while you brush your teeth and get dressed, is a nice introduction for your baby to start checking things out.
Naps in the crib should be your first goal. Your baby gets the experience of a quick sleep in their new bed, and you’ll be less disappointed if it doesn’t go well—you’ll get another chance to try again later in the day.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Like all people, babies are creatures of habit. They thrive best with a predictable, safe sleep routine.
Get your baby ready for bed at least 30 minutes before you want them to be asleep. Taking your time helps your baby wind down.
Come up with ideas of things you can do consistently every day to signal to your baby that they’re getting ready to sleep.
Giving a warm bath (even without soap), putting on fresh pajamas, reading a book, singing a song, and rocking in your glider are all effective ways to wind down for the evening.
Set the Mood in the Room
Plugging in a nightlight with dim lighting and a white noise sound machine helps your baby learn that this is bedtime.
Keep the room at a comfortable temperature of around 70 degrees. A baby that’s too hot or too cold doesn’t sleep well.
In the winter months, it can be helpful to set up a cool-mist humidifier in your baby’s room to keep the environment comfortable.
The ambiance of the nursery should be something you can recreate from day to day to enhance your bedtime routine.
Switch to the Crib, Then to Their Own Room
Too many changes at once make any transition harder. Before their first night alone in their new crib, let your baby test it out in the comfort of the room you’ve already been sharing together.
Your baby will feel safe with you still in the room and you’ll have peace of mind being able to watch your baby adjust to their new surroundings.
Choose a quality crib that you feel good about putting your baby into. It should meet all safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Don’t Give Up
There are bound to be setbacks while you’re trying to transition your baby to a crib. Stay open to changing things up if you see that your baby doesn’t respond well to your first approach.
There’s not a one size fits all way to do this and what works for one baby may not work for another. Even identical twins are known to have differences in their sleep patterns and preferences.
Trust your gut and your baby’s cues. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all options, reach out to a sleep consultant to help you with your personal situation. They can give you an experienced outside perspective on what you can do to help your baby sleep based on your family’s needs.
Set Up a Baby Monitor
When your baby’s sleep journey has led them out of your room and into the nursery, you’ll still want a way to keep tabs on them. A baby monitor gives you eyes and ears on your snoozing little one even when you’re not in the same room.
You can keep track of the moment your baby wakes up in the middle of the night with audio and visual options. Knowing what’s going on in their baby’s room gives many parents peace of mind.
Don’t Feel Discouraged by the Length of the Process
All good things take time, including sleep training your baby.
Some babies will take to a crib easily and make a seamless transition in a week’s time.
Other babies will resist the move as long as possible.
And there’s still a large group of babies that will be somewhere in between loving it and hating it.
Every baby learns at their own pace and sleeping through the night is a learned skill. There’s no right or wrong amount of time, and it doesn’t mean you’re failing if it takes longer than you expected.
6 Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep in Their Own Crib
Each baby is unique and needs an equally unique strategy for feeling comfortable in their new sleep environment. Here are tips to streamline the transition process.
1) Make Sure the Crib Is Safe
Invest in a new crib that you know will be safe for your baby.
The Crib from Nurture& is made with non-toxic materials. It is JPMA Certified and exceeds the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials to provide you with a worry-free option for your baby’s bed.
If you already have a crib, but it’s missing hardware or has broken pieces, it needs to be replaced. Crib standards have changed over time as we learn more about sleep safety. Make sure when you’re using a vintage or second-hand crib that it meets the current safety standards.
2) Purchase a Firm Mattress
As much as you want your baby to be comfortable, they don’t need a plush mattress. A mattress that is firm and flat is best for safe sleep through the night and at nap time.
The Lullaby Crib Mattress has a comfortable, breathable cover and provides the proper support your baby needs from infancy on into the toddler years.
3) Choose Soft Crib Sheets
A baby’s delicate skin needs a buttery soft fitted sheet to rest against at night.
The Nurture& Crib Sheet Set is made of 100% cotton and fits any standard crib mattress. There are three different color sets to choose from. Each set includes two sheets with complementary patterns.
4) Create a Safe Sleep Environment
Keep the crib free from bumpers, pillows, loose blankets, and plush toys for at least the first year.
If your baby needs an extra layer at night, use a sleep sack to keep them warm.
The risk of SIDS is much higher when there’s anything in the baby’s sleep space that could block their airway or get tangled around them.
5) Make the Nursery Familiar
Up until now, your baby has been sleeping close to you in their bassinet or co-sleeper. Set up their nursery design with this in mind.
Use the same kind of lighting that you use in your room to create a soft glow so they aren’t waking up to complete darkness.
Spend a night with their crib sheet in your bed to leave your scent behind.
Be intentional about doing everyday things in the nursery with your baby:
- Sit in the room while you’re breastfeeding or giving your baby a bottle.
- Use the changing table to get them dressed.
- Try a few minutes of tummy time in here to help your baby associate this room with a place where they like to be with you.
6) Choose a Sleep Training Method
Sleep training doesn’t mean strict rules that your baby must learn or else. It’s simply a guideline for the way you want to handle your baby’s sleeping habits.
The transition to a crib is a big change for you and your baby. Be patient and empathetic to your baby’s need for reassurance, but also know your limits.
Have a plan for how you want to handle frustrating or exhausting moments. This might mean setting a timer for yourself to walk away while you regroup. If you have the option, get a partner involved so you can take shifts soothing your baby.
Your little one is learning, growing, and moving more today than they were yesterday and they’re not stopping.
Follow this guide to be prepared for when the day comes to move your baby to their own crib.
At Nurture& we pride ourselves on creating premium, modern, and non-toxic furniture and baby essentials. Discover the best crib and nursery furniture for your baby—made for parents, by parents.