How to Transition Baby From Co Sleeping to Crib
Have you been enjoying co-sleeping with your little one but feel like it’s just about time for your child to move to his or her own bed?
Is your baby no longer getting a good night’s sleep when co-sleeping?
Are you and your partner losing sleep with this sleeping arrangement?
Whatever your reason might be, you’re sure to know when it’s time to think about transitioning baby from co sleeping to crib.
In this article, we’ll provide a little information to help you understand why it might be time to stop co-sleeping earlier than you may have originally planned. You’ll learn about the potential problems associated with long-term co-sleeping and you’ll be better able to make an informed decision on whether or not it’s time for you and your little one to start sleeping separately.
After that, we’ve put together 11 of the best tips for moving baby from co sleeping to crib sleeping. Whether your child has been in a co-sleeper or has been sharing the bed space with you from day one, you’ll find all the help you need to figure out the best method for going about this transition in your little one’s life.
Learning how to transition baby from co sleeping to crib can be challenging, and it may lead to a few fussy and sleepless nights. However, when you go into it armed with the right information, you’ll already be well on your way to success in the long run.
So let’s get started learning about making this important shift in your sleeping arrangements!
Downsides of Long-term Co-Sleeping
Many parents and health care professionals alike often recommend that when moving from co sleeping to crib 9 months of age is one of the latest stages you should begin. Some recommend starting the transition even earlier, while there are plenty of other parents who believe co-sleeping is fine into the toddler years and sometimes even much longer than that. While co-sleeping for a long period of time may work well for some families, there are always some downsides to this sleeping arrangement that you should keep in mind.
- Less space for everyone: As your baby gets older, he or she is only going to get bigger. If you have a queen-sized bed, this may be plenty of room for you, your partner, and your newborn, but as your child ages, everyone is going to run out of space sooner or later. This may mean sleepless nights and restless days when no one is getting comfortable during sleep.
- More frequent nighttime feedings: Although many babies have no trouble co-sleeping without putting excessive demands on their parents, some will learn quickly that they can take advantage of this situation and get more frequent nighttime nursing or bottle-feeding sessions if they cry more often. This may lead to overeating in your baby and will also contribute to those sleepless nights.
- Wandering toddlers: As your baby learns how to walk without assistance, he or she is a lot more likely to get up during the night and start wandering around the room, or even the whole house, without you noticing. Some parents have reported waking up to find their toddlers getting into mischief in another room entirely!
- Less opportunity for intimacy: While you and your partner may be fine skipping intimate time together for the first few months of your baby’s life, eventually you’re going to want that opportunity again. If you’re still co-sleeping with your little one for the first few years of his or her life, you may find your private lives are significantly altered due to these sleeping arrangements. And that may leave one or both of you less than happy about the setup in the long-term.
- Other children: If you allow your baby to co-sleep with you for longer than a few months, the other children in your family may become jealous, depending on their ages and temperaments. If this happens, you might end up with both children wanting to co-sleep with you, and that’s usually not a safe arrangement. On the other hand, if you keep co-sleeping with your baby until he or she becomes a toddler, you may want to start thinking about having another baby by this point—and co-sleeping will need to stop if so.
11 Tips for Transitioning a Baby from Co-sleeping to Crib
Whether you’re moving from co sleeping to crib 3 months of age or later on in your child’s life, there are plenty of tips that can help you make the most of this experience. In this section, we’ve put together lists of tips for moving from a bed sharing situation to a crib as well as transitioning from co sleeper to crib. No matter which method is right for you and your child, you should be able to find plenty of information to help you get started or to help you get over any hurdles you might be facing along the way, too. Read on to learn more!
Bed Sharing to Crib Transition
If your child is sleeping in the bed with you and is not using any attachment pieces to do so, then he or she is bed sharing. (Note: a bed rail does not count as an attachment piece.) This type of co-sleeping can be a little harder to transition from, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully!
1. Sleep for a few nights in your child’s new room.
When you first put your baby in a separate room, he or she is going to notice right away that something’s very wrong—or at least it’s wrong from your baby’s perspective. You can help alleviate some of the initial stress of sleeping in a strange place by sticking around for the first few nights. This way, your child will be able to see, hear, and smell you nearby just like he or she did during bed sharing, but you’ll be closer to getting back to a separate room.
- Make sure you’ve got enough willpower to step away after a few nights of this. If you sleep in the same room with your baby for more than a week after the initial transition, then you’re probably only causing a setback in the shift in sleeping arrangements.
- Consider alternating with your partner for this task if he or she is willing to help. This way, your baby will learn not to expect you being close by every night while still having some reassurance from the presence of a family member in the room in the meantime.
2. Step away from the room before your child completely falls asleep.
You may begin the night right next to your baby’s crib, sitting in a chair or standing up so your child can see you. You may want to start by reading a bedtime story or singing a favorite bedtime song as your child begins to fall asleep. Make sure that, as your child is getting settled, he or she can see, hear, and smell you easily. This will help your child to relax and feel like falling asleep more quickly and easily while you’re still in the room.
- As your baby first starts to drop off into sleep, start shuffling slowly away from his or her crib. You may notice your child wake up again and look at you for reassurance during this time. If you do, stop where you are, but don’t go back to the side of the crib where you started. Try singing another song from where you’re standing now.
- Before your baby falls completely asleep, leave the room. You want your baby to be awake enough to know you’re gone but not so awake that he or she is going to start crying immediately after you leave. It may take some practice to get this timing right, but eventually, you’ll have this strategy down.
3. Do not get into the bed with your child, even in his or her own room.
Sleeping in the same room with your baby is not the same thing as sleeping in the same bed with him or her. If you’ve been bed sharing, you’re not doing your baby or yourself any favors by continuing to bed share in a different room. If you’re putting your baby in a crib, this is going to be pretty impossible anyway, since you wouldn’t be able to fit into your child’s bed. However, if you’re moving your baby to a toddler bed, make sure you stay out of it completely.
- This also includes naptime with your baby during the day. Many parents like to lie down in the same bed with their babies for a shared naptime, but if you’re trying to break the habit of co-sleeping while bed sharing, you’ll need to cut this out too.
- This doesn’t mean you can’t sleep in the same room near your baby, especially for those daytime naps. However, remember that you’re going to eventually need to let your child be independent during sleep, at least as far as he or she realizes. You may still be close by waiting to help when your baby wakes up, but he or she needs to experience being alone in the room, too.
4. Agree with your partner to take turns with the new responsibilities this transition will bring.
Your partner may be the one encouraging you to stop co-sleeping with your baby, to begin with, but even if not, you need to both try to agree to share the responsibilities of tending to a baby in a separate room. Up until this point, you might have been doing most of the work, especially if your baby has been consistently sleeping on the same side of the bed as you every night. From here on out, however, you’re both going to need to get up during the night and walk to another room to reach your baby when he or she cries.
- Although it can be tough to remember when you’re both sound asleep, try to keep track of taking turns to check in on your baby. This is the fairest way to go about it, after all!
- Make sure you set some ground rules before you ever begin the transition. For example, if you have to get up earlier than your partner for work one day, ask him or her to take care of the baby during the night that night. Also be sure to set up some rules about how long to let your baby cry before you go to him or her.
5. Try moving to the crib in your room before shifting it to a separate room.
If you’ve been bed sharing and find that your baby is absolutely not welcoming the idea of sleeping in a room entirely separate from yours, you may need to take a step back—but not all the way back. Put the crib in your room for a little while and place your baby in it when it’s time to go to bed. This will allow your baby to get used to the idea of sleeping in a crib in the first place without expecting him or her to immediately adjust to sleeping alone.
- Make sure that you absolutely will not bring your baby into the bed with you during this stage of the transition process. This will take some willpower from you, especially in the middle of the night when you just want to go back to sleep. However, bringing the baby into the bed will put you both back to the beginning of this process, and you don’t want that.
- Ask your partner to help out with caring for the baby during the night with this step of the process, too.
6. Be prepared for crying and fussiness.
The best thing you can do for your baby during this transition period is not to set expectations that are too high. Your baby absolutely will be able to transition to sleeping in his or her own room eventually, but it’s unfair to expect a young infant to do this without crying or getting fussy at all. Prepare mentally and emotionally for your child to cry and fuss during the night, and decide ahead of time if you’re going to take a “cry it out” approach or opt for a “no-cry” version of transitioning instead.
- If your baby seems to be exceptionally fussy during this period, make sure you check for any other problems that could be contributing to this. If your child is teething or sick, this could be causing the fussiness and excess crying instead of the transition.
- Be sure to choose the right time to begin the transition process. If you’re getting ready to go back to work or your partner has a big project due at his or her job in the coming days, wait until things have settled down and the two of you can sacrifice a little sleep without causing a big problem.
Co-Sleeper to Crib Transition
If you’re using a bed attachment for your baby, he or she may either be sleeping in a crib or cot that is physically attached to your bed or may be using one that stands on its own right next to or hanging over your side of the bed. This type of co-sleeping may be a little easier to transition from, but it can still cause some struggles that some babies have difficulties overcoming without a little extra help from you.
7. Give your child a new blanket or toy—if it’s safe.
A new stuffed toy or comfortable blanket can be a nice way to make your baby’s new sleeping arrangements seem better than the old ones, but if your child is still very young, this may not always be a safe option. You can ask your child’s pediatrician for recommendations about what should or shouldn’t be placed in your child’s crib. If you can’t find something that’s safe enough for use in the crib, you might try a fun new mobile or a crib aquarium to give your baby something fun to enjoy when it’s time to go to bed instead.
- If your baby is older, such as in the toddler years, you may have some luck giving your child something to cuddle with during the night. By this point, your child should be old enough that a stuffed toy or blanket isn’t going to cause a suffocation or choking hazard.
- If your baby is very young and isn’t even noticing a mobile or crib aquarium yet, that’s okay. Go ahead and put them in, and make sure to choose something that plays soothing music. A little quiet music goes a long way toward helping your baby transition to a crib.
8. Think about beginning night weaning when the time is right, too.
Yes, moving your baby from a co-sleeper to a crib is a difficult transition for everyone involved, but it may also be the right time to start night weaning. You might feel like it’s extra tough to refrain from feeding your baby as often during the night while he or she is getting used to sleeping in a separate crib, but these two stages in your child’s development can go hand-in-hand pretty well. As your baby moves to a separate room, you’ll be less likely to want to get up and feed him or her often during the night.
- Since long-term co-sleeping can contribute to overeating, especially when it comes to night feedings, it’s crucial to rethink your night feeding routine when it’s time to move your baby to his or her own crib.
- If you’re concerned about whether or not you need to cut back on nighttime feedings at this time, be sure to speak to your child’s pediatrician. Your baby’s pediatrician knows your child almost as well as you do and will be able to offer you valuable advice specifically tailored to your baby’s needs when it comes to the night weaning process.
9. Set up a bedtime routine and always stick to it.
Your baby may feel more than a little confused when he or she is suddenly sleeping further away from you than ever before, but setting up a strict nighttime routine is a great way to help your child figure out when it’s time to get ready for bed. Your bedtime routine may include a story or song, cuddle time with you and your partner, and a variety of other activities like putting on pajamas and—when your child gets older—brushing teeth. All of this should be performed in the same order every night and around the same time, too.
- Make sure everyone in the family knows the nightly routine and does their part to keep it up night after night. This routine is important in helping establish a solid bedtime for your little one. The more he or she gets used to this familiar pattern, the more comfortable your baby will be in a separate crib or separate room.
- If the routine must change, try to get back to the original pattern as quickly as possible. And if you’re going on vacation or will be leaving your baby with a sitter overnight, do what you can to keep things as familiar as they can be in these unique situations, too.
10. Give your baby something safe that smells like you.
Do not put a whole shirt in the bed with your baby, but consider cutting a small piece of an old t-shirt that you’ve worn over and over again and placing it in the crib. Take care to choose something that’s small enough not to be a suffocation hazard but not so small that it will become a choking hazard instead. A piece of clothing is only one option; you may be able to come up with something else that will give your baby comfort instead.
- If you’re worried about putting any piece of clothing in the crib with your baby, try tucking it between the crib’s sheet and the mattress instead. This way, the sheet will hold it in place but your baby will still be able to smell it. Only do this if you are certain it won’t affect the way the sheet fits on the mattress, however.
- You might also lay out pieces of your clothes throughout your baby’s room instead. You might need to use more than one to help your baby smell you if you go this route, but it’s a great alternative if you’re worried about putting unnecessary items in your child’s crib.
11. Choose the right crib.
This is crucial for your baby’s safety as well as for his or her happiness. Make sure you pick a crib that’s the right size for your child and will be useful for him or her until it’s time to transition to a toddler bed. Choose a crib that has a comfortable mattress, preferably a new one, and do not put any items in your baby’s crib that aren’t necessary.
- Another key factor to keep in mind when picking your baby’s crib is choosing one that mimics the feeling of sleeping in the co-sleeper attachment. Depending on the type of co-sleeper you’ve been using, your baby may have gotten used to certain aspects of sleeping in it. Some co-sleepers can be converted into cribs when the time comes, but if yours can’t, think about its features and try to choose a crib that’s close to these.
- Finally, consider where you place the crib in your baby’s new room. If your baby is used to sleeping next to a window, you might put the crib close to a window too. This may help your child feel like this is a familiar setup, which will be more comfortable.
5 Ways to Keep Baby Sleeping Safely
You know that you’ve been able to keep a close eye on your baby while he or she has been bed sharing or sleeping in a co-sleeper attachment, but how can you be sure you’re providing your baby with the safest possible sleeping arrangement now that he or she is going to a separate bed—or even to a separate room? If you’re worried about keeping your child safe in his or her own crib, here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Always use a flat, firm mattress.
Your baby’s crib probably came with a mattress already in place, and you can usually be replacements if the original one starts to wear out. Make sure you fit it with a tight sheet that doesn’t come loose easily and won’t become a potential choking or breathing hazard for your little one.
2. Do not use a broken crib or one that is too old to be up to current standards.
Safety standards for baby products change almost every year, and what was considered safe enough when you were little probably wouldn’t be up to par these days. Drop-side cribs, for example, have been phased out almost entirely because they were proven to be too unsafe for most babies.
3. Don’t leave any hanging wires or cords anywhere near your baby’s crib.
Even if you feel like these cords are out of the way, there’s always a chance your baby could reach them or something could fall into his or her crib. Prevent the risk of suffocation and choking by keeping these items safely far away from your baby at all times.
4. Until your baby is at least a year old, always put him or her to sleep on the back.
Sleeping on the sides or stomach can significantly increase the risk of SIDS in children under one year of age. However, eventually, your baby will learn to roll onto his or her side or stomach while sleeping. It’s okay if your baby does this naturally but always put him or her to bed starting out flat on the back.
5. Don’t put your baby to sleep in pajamas or other clothes that are too heavy or could cause your child to overheat.
It’s better to err on the side of cooler clothes and use a baby sleeper if you’re worried about your child getting too cold during the night.
By keeping these helpful safety tips in mind, you’ll be able to provide a safe sleeping experience for your child even after it’s time for him or her to go to a separate crib or even an entirely different room of your home. There are a lot of other important safety tips to keep in mind when you’re thinking about how to set up your baby’s crib and how to put him or her to sleep safely every night, so make sure to do your research before time to make your sleeping arrangement transition for best results.
We hope we’ve given you some helpful information about how to get co sleeping baby to sleep in a crib, whether you’ve been sharing the bed with your little one or enjoying a co-sleeper attachment instead. This can be a difficult time, especially if the two of you have been truly enjoying the co-sleeping experience up until now, but eventually, it’s going to be time to change your sleeping arrangements. We hope our tips and tricks can help you transition from co sleeper to crib or from bed sharing to crib quickly, easily, and with as little fuss as possible.
If you’re still having trouble getting baby to sleep in crib after co sleeping, you may need to speak with your child’s pediatrician for more suggestions. Some babies will take to the new change a lot more readily than others, and if your baby is struggling with this transition, don’t worry. Eventually, he or she will enjoy sleeping in a separate bed and even in a separate room, but you may need to be a little more patient in the meantime.
Good luck with your co-sleeping transition, and sleep tight!