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How to Transition Baby to Crib | 10 Game-Changing Tricks For a Happier, Healthier Baby

Is It Time to Transition Baby to Crib?

Time to transition baby to crib? And now you’re feeling nervous your baby might not be down for it? Ugh, I remember that day like it was yesterday!

Some babies sleep like angels…or so I hear. My daughter was not one of those babies. As a newborn, she “sleep talked” all night long, bumped awake at the slightest sound, noticed me beside her, and found the energy to wake up and play at 3:00 am.

I found she was fussier throughout the day and more susceptible to sickness when she wasn’t sleeping well. And I couldn’t be the mother I needed to be on two hours of sleep at a time either. So we started transitioning her to a crib in her own room the second our doctor said it was safe and healthy for her.

Will she miss having us at her side? Will she feel scared? Betrayed?! These were all actual questions my husband and I discussed.

But we did it! And you can transition baby to crib too!

Let me start by saying that official recommendations are always changing as to where your baby should sleep and how and until what age. We transitioned our daughter to sleeping in her crib at three months several years ago at the recommendation of our doctor, then monitored her closely with a baby monitor and movement monitor. We did what was recommended at the time, and you should do what’s recommended at the time by your doctor.

If your baby sleeps like a quiet angel, then keep them in your room as long as you’d like! But when you do want to transition baby to crib, here’s what will help to make it an easier transition.

Transition Baby to Crib as Slowly and Smoothly as Possible

  • Stick with one major change at a time. Babies do best adjusting to just one huge change at a time, so don’t try to transition baby to crib around the same time as a vacation, move, or change in childcare.
  • Allow them to get acquainted with their crib. Spending tummy or play time in their crib for short periods during the day can help to teach them that their crib is a safe and comfortable place to be, and help to alleviate any fears caused by a brand new environment.
  • Transition gradually. Your baby might find it easier to take this change one step at a time. Our daughter was previously sleeping in a rock and play (under our supervision). So before we moved her into her crib, we placed the rock and play beside her crib for a few nights. A friend of mine’s daughter started taking naps in her crib for a week or so before they placed her in her crib at night. Another friend stayed in the room with her son for 10 or 20 minutes after tucking him in, then gradually decreased the time until she could simply put him to bed and leave.
  • Create a routine and stick with it. It doesn’t have to be complicated or long, it just has to be consistent every. single. night. We used to feed our daughter, burp her, cuddle for a few minutes on the couch with the lights dimmed, and then place her in her crib. Some parents incorporate a bath or story. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it every night. Babies take comfort in knowing what to expect. (Get extra tips on wake times by age and bedtime routines here!)
  • Set the scene. The more comforting their crib and room, the more willing they’ll be to stay there. Try to keep the temperature of their bedroom comfortable, and make sure their sheets aren’t too cold, as that’s as easy way to wake them up as you set them down. One way to keep them from the shock of cold sheets is to use a sleep sack. Some babies also like a little white noise, which can be accomplished with a sound machine or even by turning on the bathroom fan next door. Is your baby transitioning from sleeping on or with you? Try sleeping on their crib sheets or sleep sack, to help transfer your scent to their new bed.

Transition Baby to Crib With a Little Patience and Grit

  • Expect a struggle. It’s very rare that babies transition to their crib without putting up a fight. They thrive on routine, after all, and you’re switching things up on them. You can also expect that the longer you wait to transition them, the more resistance you’ll encounter, as they’ve enjoyed their previous routine that much longer.
  • Don’t rush in at the first sound they make. We used to worry every time our daughter whimpered, but soon realized she was just “talking in her sleep.” Give it a few minutes and see if things work themselves out or escalate. If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, but seems relatively happy, pause a bit to see if they’ll fall back asleep. Awake doesn’t always necessarily mean hungry or wet. At nearly 4-years-old, my daughter still wakes up several times a night for a few minutes, then puts herself back to sleep.
  • Ensure all of their needs are met, then check in every 15 minutes if they’re still crying. If they have a clean diaper, full belly, and no medical reason to cry, it’s okay for them to fuss or cry for a bit. Use a baby monitor if it helps you feel better! But allow them to cry for 10 or 15 minutes before going in to check on them. When you do check on them, avoid stimulating them. Keep the lights low, don’t talk to them, and try not to pick them up from the crib. It’s so hard, but your baby has to learn to soothe himself to sleep without your help.
  • Remind yourself that it’s in everyone’s best interest. With better, longer sleep, both you and your baby will function better and feel happier in general. The first night we put our daughter down in her crib, she cried in her room while my husband and I cried on the other side of the door. But when we checked the time after what felt like an eternity, it turned out it was only five minutes. Ha! And the sleep she received in her crib, and now her bed, is much higher quality than what she received next to me. And a well-rested baby is happier and healthier. Remind yourself that you’re helping them to establish a healthy habit that will serve them for a lifetime.
  • Don’t take websites and books too seriously. You can read a million different posts and books on this subject, but you know your baby best. What works for an author’s baby may or may not work for yours. Stay flexible and confident in your parental instincts. You’ve got this!

Wrap It Up

You can absolutely transition baby to crib, by making the transition as smooth as possible and practicing a little patience and grit. And soon everyone in the family will be enjoying a peaceful night’s rest!

What tips helped you to transition baby to crib? Be sure to share in the comments!

P.S. Wanna keep life as simple as possible for you and your little ones? Click here to download our free New Parent Pack!

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Saturday 27th of April 2019

Thank you for this post! It was full of wisdom and not condemnation for having done things another way. So kind and positive. I feel full of confidence that I can do this.


Saturday 27th of April 2019

Thanks so much, Emily! It's a tough job no matter when or how you do it...we parents need all of the love and encouragement we can get. We're rooting for you!