See if one of these sounds familiar.
You wanted to co-sleep with your baby from the beginning. You had visions of endless cuddles and not having to get out of bed to nurse. And you got all that. But now… now you want the bed back to yourself. Goodbye 2 am pajama parties and ninja kicks to the kidneys.
Or you never intended to share your bed with your baby at all. But one day, there they were – maybe after waking up for the 15th time that night– and they never left. Hey, it happens!
Whether the co-sleeping was purposeful or accidental, eventually, most parents want to stop co-sleeping and transition their child to a crib.
Read on for my best tips on how to move your newborn to 24-month-old from co-sleeping in your bed to a crib of their own.
Will My Child Cry?
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Be prepared for some crying (possibly a lot).
Crying is a child’s natural response to changes that they don’t like. And they definitely won’t like going from their parents’ cozy, snuggly bed to sleeping in their own crib. So the crying is totally understandable.
But I’m not talking about leaving your baby to cry in their crib for hours while you cry in the other room. The Sleep Sense Philosophy encourages parents to select a method that makes them feel comfortable while still being effective.
General Guidelines for a Smooth Transition From Co-sleeping
Make this change when there’s nothing else significant going on in your baby’s or family’s life. Holidays, moving houses, upcoming overnight trips, and arrival of a new sibling are NOT the times to make this change.
On the other hand, the sooner you make the transition to crib from your bed, the easier it will be. So don’t put it off. As with most things in life, waiting longer is only good in theory.
Co-sleeping to Crib: Newborns to Six-Month-Olds
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies younger than six months sleep in their parents’ room to decrease the risk of SIDS. The tips below will help you move your child from sleeping in your bed to sleeping in their own crib inside your room. This is often called room-sharing.
Start with nighttime
By starting the transition at night you will have mother nature’s help. At night your baby’s brain releases Melatonin. Melatonin – also known as the ‘sleepy hormone’ – is the body’s way of helping us fall asleep.
Because the release is initiated by darkness Melatonin is only released at night. This makes it easier to fall asleep. Since your baby will be more eager to fall asleep, the transition to their own crib will be easier at night.
Put your baby down awake
Most parents have heard this piece of advice and it’s extra important while trying to make this transition.
One of the most important reasons to transition away from co-sleeping is allowing your baby to learn to fall asleep on their own. So give them the best chance to do so by not rocking or feeding them to sleep. Start creating healthy sleep associations that will last a lifetime.
Co-sleeping to Crib: 6-24 Month-Olds
At 6 months old your baby is old enough to sleep in their own room. So you have a choice to make. You can transition your baby from co-sleeping in your bed to a crib of their own in your room. Or you can move them straight to their own room.
If you prefer that they sleep in your room, follow the tips above for making the move from co-sleeping. Otherwise, read on for how to help transition your baby to sleeping in their own room.
If your baby is remaining in your bedroom, I suggest putting up a divider to create a bit of separation between you and your baby while sleeping. Some little ones are just so clever that if they wake briefly in the night and see you, cue the 2am pajama party.
Rip off the bandaid?
Some children handle changes like rockstars. Others will fight you on every inch. You know your child best. Want to do it quickly? You can make an all-in-one transition from your bed to their crib in a separate room.
If your baby needs a little more time you can make the changes one at a time. First, make the transition from co-sleeping to a crib in your room. Once they are used to sleeping in their own crib, move the crib to the nursery.
Meanwhile, allow your child to play in their new bedroom during the day. This will help them feel more comfortable and make the move easier once it happens.
Ideal sleep environment
If your child will be sleeping in their own room, there are a few factors you should consider when setting up their room for sleep.
- Safety: to make sure your child is safe in their crib there should be nothing in it except the baby. And yes, that means NO blankets, NO pillows, NO crib bumpers, and NO stuffed animals. Save those for when your child is older.
- Light: I highly recommend that your baby’s room be as dark as possible. Preferably so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of you when the blinds and door are closed.
- Sound: a white noise machine could be helpful if there are sudden sounds that can disrupt your child’s sleep. I recommend pink or brown noise or the sound of consistent rain for the best sleeping experience.
- Temperature: keep the baby’s room between 68 and 72 degrees for optimal sleep.
Get all the details on setting up the perfect nursery for your baby here.
Stick to your existing bedtime routine as closely as possible. Consider moving some parts of it to the nursery itself if that is where your child will be sleeping. Looking for inspiration? Check out my suggested bedtime routine for babies below and toddlers here.
Making the co-sleeping-to-crib transition can feel daunting. It is also almost certain to improve your quality of sleep, not to mention move your baby along to being an independent sleeper.
So don’t let this intimidate you. It is as important for your baby as for you. Set yourself up for a successful co-sleeping-to-crib transition by using my tips.
If all this feels like too much to take on by yourself click here to book a free consultation call with me.
Hi, I’m Jenn. Mom, Sleep Boss, and Finder of Lost Loveys. I have more than 10 years of experience in guiding families from sleep deprived to sleep-revived. I help exhausted families around the globe find the right sleep solutions for their children through one-on-one coaching.
Click here to learn more about me and my approach to sleep consulting.