How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib

Slowly but Surely: Making the Move From Co-Sleeping to Crib

You can consider the path from infant to toddler and beyond one big transition period broken up by a few relaxing moments where you and your little one take a deep breath and appreciate the progress you've made. But few changes in your little one's lifestyle can seem as abrupt and shocking as making the move from co-sleeping to crib, so think of the transition as more of a short marathon than a sprint.

Tapering for a Smooth Transition

Baby girl sleeping with toy rabbit and pacifier

The Best Ways to Transition a Baby From a Swing to a Crib

Learn More

Few feelings compare to that of snuggling up close to a loved one and peacefully slipping into slumber. On a similar note, few feelings compare to abruptly going from sleeping with a loved one to sleeping alone. Your baby might adjust to solo sleeping within a couple weeks or a couple months. But no matter how long it takes, don't take a step backward in the process lest you lose a lot of ground and have to spend twice as much time and effort making up for it.

Preparation

Lay the foundation for the transition by allotting your toddler play time and nap time in the crib during the day. Explain the move and the reasoning behind it, pointing out the benefits of the new arrangement using positive descriptors, such as "fresh, new sheets" and "a bed just for you." Let your child know the significance of the move with affirmations of his growing independence and bravery in the face of change. Allow your baby about one week to grow comfortable before moving on.

If you're moving an infant, you don't have to offer much explanation, but ample play time and nap time in the crib is a must for making your baby feel as comfortable as possible in the new environment. Use the same method of foundation-laying when making the move from a bassinet to a crib.

Proximal Sleeping

Baby girl sleeping with toy rabbit and pacifier

How to Help a 9-Month-Old Sleep All Night

Learn More

Sleep in your baby's room or beside his crib until he feels comfortable enough falling asleep alone. Add more distance between yourself and the crib incrementally as he falls asleep. Although your own comfort might take a dent, fold-away beds and air mattresses work well here. Allow anywhere from a few days to a week for your baby to adapt to this arrangement.

Next, move onto sitting by the crib as your baby falls asleep. If he objects to the change, comfort him as needed, but keep moving forward. Books and simple songs prove helpful here. Try to spend no longer than a few days to a week at this stage unless your baby has major issues, such as abnormal, extensive crying fits or excessive restlessness. Just before or right after he goes to sleep, leave and enjoy the silence—you've earned it.

Helping Your Baby Sleep the Night Through

Reaching the summit of the co-sleep-to-crib mountain doesn't mean it's all downhill from there. Depending on your baby's age, you can expect anywhere from a few to several wake-up calls during the night for issues such as a need for comforting, hunger and teething. Similar to how you laid the foundation for crib-sleeping, set the base for your baby's first all-nighter with a routine.

Start a bedtime routine at around 3 months old if you haven't already. Routines vary, but most consist of bath time followed by a fresh diaper and pj's, then a need-based potty and a few minutes of intimate time, such as cuddling, reading or soft singing. Bath time before bed each night might or might not work with your little one; some babies get a second wind after a bath, while others experience a winding-down of their internal clocks. After you find the best routine for your baby, stick with it.

Make daytime feedings distinct from nighttime feedings. Inject a little liveliness into daytime feedings by singing an uptempo nursery rhyme or speaking "motherese"; at night, minimize background noise as much as possible, and strive for a tranquil ambiance.

Introduce a security object into your child's routine at around 6 months of age. Babies typically start exhibiting signs of separation anxiety around 6 or 7 months, so a simple, comfortable item like a worn-in blanket or stuffed animal goes a long way here. If you're breastfeeding, try expressing a little breast milk on the security object to give your baby the perception of closeness to you.

Warnings

Allowing a child under 6 months to sleep with a blanket or stuffed toy poses an increased risk of SIDS.

Give your baby enough time to fall asleep. If she starts crying, fight the urge to rush, and wait a few seconds longer than usual to check on her. If she continues, provide just enough comfort to calm her down and reassure her that all is well. If she continues crying after you leave, return and repeat the calming process. If she cries persistently in and out of your presence, pick her up to check if she is okay, and repeat the calming-and-leaving process as needed.

×