When you were pregnant, you probably took great care in designing your baby’s nursery and carefully selected the best items for your baby registry. One of the most important things in the nursery is your baby’s crib. After all, she will sleep in her crib for 2 to 4 years, right?
Unfortunately, for some of us, sleeping in the crib is just a nice dream. After you had your baby, you might have purposely decided to keep baby in your room in a co-sleeper bassinet and imagined transitioning her to her own room and crib around 6 months old when she was sleeping through the night. When she turned 6 months, you might have learned it’s not that easy to transition baby to sleep in her crib and I’m here to help!
One thing I want to emphasize is that only some people can sleep anytime, anywhere. My husband happens to be that way (as I’m typing this, he just started snoozing on the couch next to me). Only some of our babies will sleep in a stroller (my boys are NOT among them!) and only a few will transition to sleep in a crib without a hitch. For three days my younger son slept in a Close and Secure Sleeper in our bed and then we put it into the crib and it was an easy transition. My older son (who inspired this site) was not so adaptable, which is why I did make a whole site about baby sleep. 😀
When your baby is a newborn, she might not sleep in her crib because it’s far away from anyone who she seeks comfort from, mommy and daddy. And, it might seem too big compared to the womb, especially if she isn’t swaddled.
Months later, now your baby won’t sleep in the crib because it’s the equivalent of you going to sleep in the guest room. It is only her bed because you said it’s her bed. Your nursery might be beautiful, but to her, she may as well be in a different house when she’s trying to sleep in “her room”. Some adults can’t sleep well in a hotel (even the nice ones) for the same reason: It’s not your bed.
Once again, sleep associations come into play in how your baby knows how to fall asleep. Does she need to move to sleep (via rocking chair, bouncing ball, or bouncy seat)? Does she need to suck to sleep (via pacifier, nursing, or bottle)? And, is she in a comfortable place to sleep? Up until now she hasn’t slept in her crib, so why would that be a comfortable place today just because she turned 5 or 6 months old?
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in the Crib
The #1 goal in helping your baby sleep in the crib is to make it feel like HER room and HER bed. Here are a few tips you might consider:
• Consider putting YOUR bed in HIS room for a few days.
• Make sure you spend non-sleep time in HIS room
• Have him sleep on his own crib sheet for a few days, so it has his scent
• YOU sleep on his crib sheet for a few days, so it has YOUR scent
• Give it time. Don’t expect it to go perfectly the first day. It might take a few days to a couple of weeks, but the first few nights will most likely be the most difficult. Expect it to be rough and he might just surprise you, but do expect it to take work. Only some will have an easy transition.
One thing you want to do is make sure your baby knows how to fall asleep on his own, FIRST. Otherwise, you are simply going back and forth from your room to his all night, instead of reaching over a foot or two (or if you are co-sleeping, maybe just a few inches). Even if your baby is sleeping great in your room, if she has trouble adjusting, make sure you are sensitive to the fact that this is a new place for her and don’t just let her cry it out. Some babies actually sleep BETTER, immediately, once they are in their own space, not smelling Mommy’s milk or hearing Daddy’s snoring all night long.
If you need help in getting your baby to sleep, please consider our 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep e-Book (plus bonus materials) or our baby sleep consultations, where I will work with you on a personalized sleep plan that you can feel good about for your unique baby and your unique situation. If you have a toddler and are looking to transition from co-sleeping to crib or co-sleeping to bed, please see our 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep.