How To Transition Your Baby To A Crib: The Complete Guide
The first few months of your baby’s life come with so many transitions for your little one and for you as a parent! One of the big changes — learning how to transition your baby to a crib — comes when your little one outgrows their bassinet.
If making this change feels overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Lots of parents stress over the move!
That’s why we’ve created a list of tips for how to transition your baby to the nursery and their crib. But first, let’s go over a few guidelines for when this transition should happen.
When To Transition Your Baby To Their Crib
For those of you who are still pregnant but reading up on how to care for your baby, you should know that your little one can start sleeping in a crib from day one if you prefer. There’s nothing wrong with that!
The reason bassinets and cradles are so common for the first few months is that they’re small and fit nicely in your room. This is convenient because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep in their parents’ room (but not in the same bed) for at least the first six months.
However, it’s perfectly fine to put a mini crib (or a standard-sized crib if it fits!) in your room and let your infant sleep there from the get-go.
That being said, if your baby is currently in a bassinet, sooner or later they’ll need to make the move to their crib. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind before deciding when to do it.
Is Your Baby Too Heavy?
The first thing you’ll need to do is check the weight limit of your bassinet. Most max out between 10 and 20 pounds.
Whatever the weight limit is, once your baby reaches it, it’s time to say bye, bye, bassinet and hello, crib.
Is Your Baby Too Tall?
Some little ones will be too heavy for their bassinet before they’re too tall for it. Others might still be well under the weight limit but be so tall and long that they just don’t fit anymore!
That’s another sign that it’s time to move. If you notice your baby looking cramped, start planning their transition to the crib.
Can Your Baby Roll Over?
Regardless of whether or not your baby is too tall or too heavy for the bassinet, if they can roll over or sit up, that’s your cue to move them to their crib.
At this point, it’s no longer safe for them to sleep in their bassinet since they could fall out, tip it over, or roll over and have difficulty breathing.
With these questions, you can get an idea of when you should move your baby from bassinet to crib. Even if you think you have a few more weeks to go, it’s worth planning for what’s coming and learning how to transition your baby to a crib.
Wherever you’re at in the process, here are our tips to help it go as smoothly as possible for both you and your sweet baby!
How To Transition Your Baby To A Crib
As we mentioned, the move from bassinet to crib can be a big deal for your child, but also for you as a parent!
When you’re used to having your baby next to your bed all night, it can be quite emotional when they move to their nursery down the hall.
That’s why these tips apply to both you and your little one to create a smooth and positive transition for everyone involved!
1) Choose The Right Time
Since switching beds will already be a big enough change, plan it when nothing else is going on in your baby or family’s life.
Avoid big events or stressors — like trips or moving houses — and, if you can, don’t do it when your little one is teething or going through a sleep regression.
2) Ensure Crib Safety
If you know that your baby will be safe in their crib, you’ll have more peace of mind about the transition.
When most people think about a baby’s crib, they usually focus on the overall structure.
While that’s understandable, it’s equally important (if not more) to also think about the mattress that you will place inside the crib. This is, after all, the bed your little one will be spending so much of their time on.
There are many baby mattresses on the market, and they all have their own specifications. If you’re a little confused about which one to choose, here a few questions to help guide you.
How firm is the mattress?
It’s easy to assume that a soft mattress is best. However, when it comes to babies, that’s not the case.
That’s because soft sleeping surfaces are a suffocation hazard for children under one and can increase the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Will it fit perfectly in the crib?
You definitely want a mattress that fits perfectly in your baby’s crib. Also, consider the size of your crib sheets to ensure that everything has a snug fit.
This is important for your baby’s safety because any loose sheets or blankets in the crib can become a strangulation or suffocation risk.
What materials were used to create the mattress?
Babies spend many hours sleeping each day. Your little one will be placing their soft and delicate skin on the mattress, and it’s essential that you look for beds that are created from non-toxic materials so your baby won’t be breathing in harmful chemicals.
At Newton Baby, we only create safe baby mattresses, like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress.
Make sure your little one will sleep on a firm, breathable mattress, like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress. Made with our Wovenaire® Core (90% air and 10% food-grade polymer), it’s much more breathable than leading organic mattresses.
It’s also independently tested and certified for low chemical emissions according to Greenguard's Gold Standard. You can also rest assured that this crib mattress has no foam, latex, springs or glue (and therefore, no toxic chemicals or allergens) — and exceeds the most rigorous 3rd-party emissions standards which test for off-gassing.
Other safe sleep recommendations include:
- Keeping blankets, pillows, toys, and crib bumpers out of the crib
- Putting your little one on their back to sleep
- Using a fitted crib sheet only — no additional bedding
3) Spend Time In The Nursery
In the weeks leading up to the transition, help your baby get used to being in their nursery by spending time in it. Do activities they enjoy, like playing or reading, so they have good associations with the room.
If you already have a nighttime routine going, consider switching your routine to their nursery while still putting them to sleep in the bassinet. This will also help them get used to bedtime in their own room.
4) Set Up A Video Monitor
Another way to increase your peace of mind is to set up a video monitor.
Once your baby starts sleeping in the nursery, having a video monitor allows you to keep an eye on them even while you’re downstairs or snuggled up in your own bed.
5) Make One Change At A Time
Some babies handle the transition like rockstars. Others need a little more time to adjust. Changing beds and changing rooms at the same time might be a lot for your little one!
Consider making one change at a time by putting their crib in your room for a few nights. They’ll have the familiarity of sleeping in the same room while they get used to sleeping in their crib.
Later, move their crib into the nursery.
6) Sit In The Nursery
If you want to make the transition gradual but can’t put your baby’s crib in your room, sit in the nursery with them while they doze off. Your presence may be all the familiarity they need to feel safe and calm enough to sleep.
Each night, sit a bit farther away from the crib or decrease the amount of time you sit with them until...voila! They’re falling asleep with no problem.
7) Start With Naps
Here’s another trick you can try if you think your baby will have a hard time getting used to the change: for the first couple of weeks, put them to sleep in their new crib only for naptime and let them sleep in the bassinet for bedtime.
Alternately, you could put your little one in the crib for bedtime and the bassinet for naps. Some parents think this is a good way to ease babies into it, since they’re extra tired at bedtime and more likely to fall asleep, even in a new bed.
8) Teach Them To Self-Soothe
When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, they might be confused to find that they’re in a different bed than usual!
This is one of the reasons it’s important to teach your little one how to put themselves back to sleep — without you! To help them learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own, don’t rock them until they’re sound asleep.
Instead, put your baby in bed when they’re drowsy but not completely snoozing. This gives them the chance to learn how to fall asleep on their own in their crib.
Another way to help them along is to start patting them instead of picking them up when they cry out in the middle of the night. Put a reassuring hand on your baby to let them know you’re there, but avoid holding them every time they fuss.
9) Stick To A Bedtime Routine
Wherever your baby is sleeping, a bedtime routine will clue them in to the fact that it’s time to wind down and go to bed.
If you and your little one are already in a groove with their bedtime routine, stick with it! It will help them as they transition into their crib.
If you don’t have a bedtime routine, implement one now — it’s not too late! Start a pre-bed ritual that includes enjoyable, calming activities, like a baby massage, putting pajamas on, reading, singing, and snuggling.
Crib Sleeping Tips
Whether you’ve just helped your baby make the transition or they’ve been sleeping in a crib since day one, you want them to be as comfortable as possible in their environment. The more comfortable they are, the better they’ll sleep (which is good for you too!).
Here are a few ways to help them get comfy and cozy.
1) Use A Swaddle
If you have a newborn, swaddling is a great technique to help calm them. One of the many benefits is that swaddles help protect your baby against their natural startle reflex.
Because infants have sensitive skin, it’s important to only use super soft and cozy swaddles, like our Organic Swaddle Blankets. These are made from 100% organic muslin cotton, which will give your baby the gentle and extra-soft comfort they need to doze off!
2) Place Infants On Their Backs
Laying your little one to sleep on their back for the first year is an important safety measure. Unfortunately, when they are very little, they don’t yet have the muscle strength to roll from tummy to back.
To avoid any potential danger, always put your baby down on their back, no matter where they’re sleeping.
3) Use A White Noise Machine
A white noise machine helps to cancel out any disturbing noise from the next room or outside. It can also help to create a calming and serene environment for your little one.
White noise machines can also help your older kids (and even you) sleep better. So, this is definitely a long-term investment for your whole family.
4) Check The Room Temperature
As highlighted above, babies aren’t yet able to regulate their own body temperature. If they are in a hot room, it can be incredibly uncomfortable for them to sleep for long periods of time.
Your baby’s room should be kept somewhere between 68° F to 72°F in all seasons. This will help to ensure that your little one’s room is just right.
FAQs About Transitioning Baby To Crib
1) My Baby Only Sleeps In My Arms. How Can I Make This Transition Easier?
If you find that your little one only sleeps in your arms and quickly wakes up when you try to place them down, you’re not alone. While it can be tiring and frustrating, it’s actually very common.
This is likely happening because infants understand their environment by using their senses. Your baby finds your warmth, softness, and smell very soothing.
To help you make the transition to crib sleeping as smooth as possible, it’s important to understand what happens when you lay your baby down. There’s probably a shift in temperature as your little one moves from your warm body to a colder bed.
So, what can you do?
As we mentioned, swaddling can help give your little one the warmth they need before easing them into the crib.
If your little one has outgrown swaddling, you can also try a sleep sack, which can be the perfect transitional item from a swaddle.
2) My Baby Is Still So Little. Should I Get A Small Or Standard-Sized Crib?
You might run into this problem if you’re transitioning to a crib early (maybe because of a space issue).
Truthfully, you can buy whichever size crib you prefer. However, if you’re hoping to find ways of cutting down on expenses, you might want to go ahead and purchase a full-sized crib from the get-go.
This will accommodate the many growth spurts your little one will experience because you’ll be able to adjust the crib as they get bigger.
It also means that you will buy standard crib sheets, covers, and a mattress from day one and not have to worry about changing them when you change crib sizes.
3) How Long Will This Transitioning Process Last?
How long should the transition into a crib take? A week? Two weeks? Longer?
Unfortunately, there is no fixed time for the transition process. Some children will sleep well on their own from day one, while others may need a little more time to get used to their new sleeping environment.
If your baby cries and protests in the beginning, don’t be hard on yourself. As each day passes, things will get better.
4) What If My Child Is Usually Up All Night?
If your little one has a tough time sleeping throughout the night, thinking about moving them to their own crib and room can feel daunting.
Won’t this mean you’ll be doing more work by going back and forth between different rooms throughout the night?
Not necessarily. Some studies have actually shown that having your little one out of your room can help them sleep better at night.
To get an idea of why your baby is struggling to sleep at night (and, as a result, learn how to help them), take a look at these possible causes:
They may be going through a growth spurt.
Growth spurts commonly occur when infants are around 7-10 days old; 2-3 weeks old; 4-6 weeks old; and 3, 6, and 9 months old. During this time, your baby will most likely have an increased appetite and want to feed more often than they usually do.
If you suspect your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, it’s best to just give it a couple of days for the period to pass before attempting to transition them to their crib.
They just don’t feel well.
As we mentioned earlier, if your little one is teething or has a cold, this is not the time to introduce them to something unfamiliar, as it may further frustrate them (and you!) in the process.
We’ve discussed many tips in this article. If there’s one thing you should take away, it’s that timing is key!
5) Is There Anything Wrong With Co-Sleeping For A While?
Bringing your little one into bed with you can be very tempting, especially during the night when they just won’t go back to sleep and you have an early morning ahead of you. It also makes breastfeeding much quicker.
So, where’s the harm?
While it might seem convenient, bed-sharing with infants can be dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s one of the most common contributors to death in babies younger than three months, so it’s best to avoid it completely.
If you want to co-sleep and believe it will be best for you and your family, wait until your little one is a bit older. Older babies and toddlers can get themselves out of possible entrapments or suffocation better.
Sweet Dreams, One And All!
Learning how to transition your baby to a crib can be daunting. It’s a big deal and a significant change for the whole family, but don’t let it intimidate you!
With the right preparation, you’ll have peace of mind and your baby will feel secure and comfortable.
Start by ensuring the safety of your little one’s crib. Outfit it with a breathable mattress, like the Newton Baby Crib Mattress. Then follow the above tips: choosing the right time, making the move gradually, and teaching them to self-soothe.
In addition, be patient with your little one. Remember that this is new for them as well and unfortunately, they don’t yet have the vocabulary to express themselves. Take it one day at a time and trust that everything will work out.
Soon, both you and your little one will be sleeping safe and sound in your own rooms! Sweet dreams to all and to all a good night.