The Complete Guide to Transitioning Your Baby from Bed Sharing to Their Own Crib
Making the transition from bed sharing with your baby to having them sleep in their own crib can be an emotional milestone for any parent. As much as we all look forward to getting our bed back, it’s still difficult to move your little one into their own space after months of snuggles and closeness.
Rest assured the transition is possible with time, consistency and patience! Here’s a step-by-step guide to help make the process as smooth as possible for both you and your baby.
Why Make the Transition?
While bed sharing can make breastfeeding easier and help babies sleep better in the early months, most experts recommend moving to a separate sleep space by 6 months of age. Here are some of the benefits of transitioning to the crib:
- Promotes independence. Babies learn to self-soothe and settle themselves back to sleep when they briefly wake up.
- Allows more room to move. Babies have more room to stretch, roll over and maneuver in a crib.
- Reduces safety risks. Bed sharing increases chances of suffocation, entrapment or overlay. The crib provides a safer dedicated sleep space.
- Improves sleep for parents. No more kicks, punches and nursing gymnastics throughout the night!
- Lets everyone get better rest. More space and separation leads to higher quality, undisturbed sleep.
- Prepares for upcoming milestones. Moving to a crib facilitates dropping night feeds, sleep training, and transitioning to a big kid bed down the road.
While every parenting journey is unique, most families find that around 6 months of age is a natural time to start the move to the crib as baby becomes more mobile and their sleep needs evolve. Trust your instincts and go at your own pace!
Tips to Ease the Transition
Switching your baby’s sleep location can be difficult after months of close contact and the comfort of your scent and touch. Here are some tips to help everything go as smoothly as possible:
Take it slow and be consistent
Rushing the transition or constantly reversing course can make it more frustrating for everyone. Stick to a gradual approach and consistent schedule.
Make daytime crib time pleasant
Help your baby associate the crib with good feelings by using it for naps and quiet time during the day. Place soothing music, toys or a mobile nearby.
Try a transitional object
Introduce a special blanket, stuffed animal or sleep sack to represent your comforting presence at bedtime.
Create positive sleep associations
Use white noise, lullabies, massage and bedtime routines so familiar cues signal sleep time.
Pay attention to wake windows
Ensure your baby isn’t overtired when you put them down by following age-appropriate wake times.
Consider a partial transition
If going straight to all-night separation is too difficult, try moving baby to a crib sidecarred to your bed first.
Implement changes slowly
Start with naps in the crib, then move to beginning the night in the crib before bringing baby into your bed later on.
Stay consistent once started
Resist the urge to revert back to bed sharing once you begin the transition. Stick to your plan!
Give it time
Some babies adapt quickly while others take 2-4 weeks to adjust. Stay patient, consistent and loving through the process.
With the right approach, you can help your baby embrace their new sleep space while keeping the close bond you share.
Setting Up the Crib for Success
Creating a safe, cozy crib environment will go a long way towards helping your baby happily transition out of the family bed.
Use a Firm, Flat Mattress
Always use a snug fitting crib sheet over a firm mattress designed specifically for cribs. Softer surfaces increase the risk of suffocation.
Appropriate Mattress Height
Adjust the mattress height so your baby’s head remains uncovered and your hands can slide in easily between the surface and the side of the crib.
Set up the crib in your bedroom for the first few months to help baby adjust to the new arrangement at night.
Keep the room comfortably cool – between 65-70 degrees F is optimal. Don’t overbundle your baby.
Soothing Sensory Cues
Add familiar white noise, lullabies, and muted lighting to signal sleep time.
Place a special blanket or cuddly companion in the crib that smells like mom to provide comfort.
Clear Away Clutter
Remove all loose bedding, bumpers, toys and other objects from the sleep space to eliminate hazards.
Use a monitor so you can observe your baby’s transition and respond quickly if needed.
Preparing your baby’s dedicated sleep space with care will help them rest safely and soundly in their new crib!
Crib Transition Schedule by Age
When and how you go about moving your baby out of your bed will depend on their age, temperament and your family’s unique needs. Here is a sample transition timeline to give you an idea of what the process may look like:
- Begin putting baby in crib for daytime naps to acclimate to new sleep space.
- Establish consistent naptime routines using favorite sleep associations.
- Move bedtime nursing/rocking to crib side for a week before trying full crib night.
- Split nights between crib and family bed as needed for gradual adjustment.
- Increase time spent napping in the crib during day.
- Start baby’s night in crib, then bring to family bed later as needed.
- Work towards spending more of the night in crib week by week.
- Try full nights in crib by dropping one feed at a time.
- Split nights between crib and family bed for gradual transition.
- Consistent naps in crib all day.
- Increase stretches of nighttime in crib.
- Only do night feeds briefly out of crib then put back.
- Go full nights in crib consistently.
- Continue split nights as needed if separation anxiety emerges.
Keep in mind every child adapts at their own pace! Stay flexible and attuned to your baby’s cues throughout the process.
Sleep Training When Transitioning to the Crib
Many parents choose to implement sleep training in conjunction with the crib transition to help baby learn to self-soothe and settle independently. Here are some effective sleep training approaches:
Also known as graduated waiting or ferberizing. Let baby fuss for a short time before returning to soothe them, gradually increasing waiting periods.
Pros: Effective for teaching self-soothing. Relatively fast. Parent still provides some comfort.
Cons: Stressful listening to crying. Some babies may not respond.
Gradually move away from baby or reduce touch/interaction as they fall asleep. Over time baby relies less on your presence.
Pros: Gentler approach without much crying. Habit change happens slowly.
Cons: Can take many weeks. Doesn’t work for all babies.
Focus on consistent nurturing bedtime routines. Avoid negative associations by not letting baby cry it out.
Pros: No distress from crying it out. Strengthens trust and bonding.
Cons: Slower results. Parents must have consistent routines.
Talk to your pediatrician about methods that fit your family’s needs and values. Sleep training takes commitment but pays off with better rest for all!
Common Questions and Concerns
Switching out of a family bed you’ve shared for months can bring up many perfectly normal questions and concerns. Here are some common ones:
Will our breastfeeding/bonding be affected?
You can absolutely maintain breastfeeding and closeness! Feed right before bed, allow cribside nursing at night, maximizing daytime snuggles.
What if my baby won’t stop crying?
Some fussing is normal at first. Try comforting techniques like shushing and gentle rocking. If crying persists, pause and try again more slowly.
Could this affect my baby’s safety?
As long as you maintain safe sleep practices like an empty crib, firm surface and no loose bedding, the crib is much safer than bed sharing.
Will I lose sleep training ground by reversing course?
Consistency is key but some flexibility is okay. Brief regressions are normal. Just get firmly back on track after slip ups.
What if my baby keeps getting out of the crib?
Lower the mattress level, use a sleep sack, and keep the room dim and boring. Stay consistent returning them calmly to the crib.
Reach out to your pediatrician if you have any concerns. With time and perseverance, the crib transition will be accomplished!
Things to Remember
- Every baby adapts at a different pace. Be patient and consistent.
- Make daytime crib naps pleasant to build positive associations.
- Use familiar sleep cues and transitional objects to boost comfort.
- Prepare the crib to be warm, familiar and hazard-free.
- Gradually increase crib time at night over a period of weeks or months.
- Seek professional advice if challenges persist beyond 4-6 weeks.
- Stick to your plan and remain lovingly resolute once started!
The Reward of Better Sleep
The effort to help your baby happily transition into their own sleeping space pays off! In no time your little one will be sleeping soundly through the night in their crib, and you’ll have your bed back.
No more restless nights or thrashing baby limbs interrupting your rest. You may even miss the snuggles at first, but you’ll both wake refreshed and energized to enjoy your special bond during plentiful waking hours.
Stay committed to your transition plan, ask for help when needed, and trust in your baby’s ability to adapt. The process may seem daunting but the payoff of restful nights and independent sleep is well worth it. Sweet dreams!