Those sweet chubby cheeks, precious little nose and wait, you have exactly 3.5 inches of room left on your side of the bed before you topple onto the floor. Co-sleeping with baby is a custom several mothers use to make for easy nighttime feeding and ensure parents get the most slumber as possible. Whether you decide to co-sleep a few months or a year, the transition from slumber with mom to baby’s own bed can present a challenge. Let’s discuss How to Transition from Co-sleeping to Crib.
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Co-sleeping is such a wonderful way to connect with your baby. It allows for skin to skin time and easy feeding. For some moms, having baby sleep right next to them in bed is uncomfortable and scary. However, there are several great products on the market to assist in keeping baby safe, yet close to mom in the night. The handy and portable DockATot, is a great way to keep baby in bed with you and rest assured you will not roll over on them. Co-sleeping allows mom and child to sleep longer and allows a newborn to settle into their new home in a way that puts little stress on baby.
Time passes and baby is getting bigger, more alert and taking up half the bed. You want your space back and baby is on a feeding schedule that is easily managed in the night. Now, it’s time to transition baby to the crib. You may ask yourself, “When exactly should I transition my child from co-sleeping to their crib?” or “Have I waited too long?” Don’t worry momma. All that is covered here!
Transition from Co-sleeping to Crib
When is a good Time to Transition?
It is said, the best time to begin the transition from co-sleeping to crib is around six to eight months of age. The research supporting this concludes that a baby’s cognitive and mental development is at a level of maturity that baby will understand the change in a way that is not distressing. Babies younger than six months tend to have a difficult time understanding a sleep schedule and transitioning from co-sleeping to crib would be a challenge. At such an early developmental period, establishing sleep training too early may present a traumatic experience that is beyond baby’s ability to comprehend.
Babies younger than three months are unlikely to understand the difference between day and night and sleep sporadically throughout the day. This is due to their lack of melatonin levels which will increase as they grow. Around three to four months, your baby will show more developed cognitive skills. At this time, baby will respond to faces, coo, display less separation anxiety and be more alert during the day.
Around the three to four month mark, baby is beginning to comprehend nighttime and a sleep schedule can be attempted. However, be forewarned that at this stage your baby is just realizing that their cries and calls will render a response. Therefore, attempting to transition from co-sleeping to crib may be difficult at this time. Baby will tend to test this theory throughout the next few months as they figure out “when I call, Mommy comes”.
The Sweet Spot
Around six to eight months is the sweet spot for sleep training and the transition from co-sleeping to crib. By this time, baby’s development is at a point that they are more interesting in what is going on around them rather than being solely dependent on you. Baby will show more interest in toys and actions. They will grab for objects and react to happenings around them.
Between six to eight months, when baby settles down and a sleep schedule is established, their ability to self soothe is greater than that of a younger age. Baby will most likely lay awake and coo happily upon waking in the day rather than crying in confusion.
Oh no! Baby has been in your bed past eight months! Now you are stuck with them forever sleeping in a pile like a pack of wolves. Don’t stress momma, it’s still possible to transition from co-sleeping to crib even after the sweet spot has passed. Between nine and ten months of age, your baby’s cognitive development has matured drastically. They are now aware of you even when you are away. This can present a challenge if attempting to sleep train and transition to a crib at this time.
Another Sweet Spot
Don’t fret, there is another window! At around twelve months to sixteen months, baby is not such a baby anymore. Your child’s focus will turn to developing their speech and capability to perform tasks. As they mature during this stage, they become more independent and you will see your child more determined to complete tasks on their own. This presents a fantastic time to transition from co-sleeping to crib! Your child’s new independent attitude will make the transition a breeze. Their ability to self soothe will come in due time and practically effortless.
Preparing for the Transition
Once baby is four months, the mattress in the crib needs to be at the lower position. Some cribs adjust to a higher position for newborns and infants and can be lowered for when baby is older and able to sit up or stand. Don’t risk your baby pulling themselves out of the crib and lower the mattress. It’s safer and you will sleep better knowing baby is not at risk of toppling over the top.
Make the crib safe. Be sure to remove any stuffies, lovies or extra pillows and blankets from the crib. They are a hazard and distracting for baby. Keep it simple and safe. It’s suggested to remove any bumpers or mobiles at this time for they will present as a distraction. If you opt to use a mobile or visual soother, it’s totally fine. I did for when baby woke too early in the AM and I wanted to get a few extra Z’s. I would switch on our Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother and baby would watch and listen while I slept in (even if it was only 10 minutes).
Sounds of Slumber
The use of a white noise or sound machine is an effective way of establishing a sleep routine. The machine can be used to muffle outside sounds and the consistency of the sounds help trigger baby’s brain for sleep. Let’s think about your baby’s lifespan so far. For nine months in the womb they were accustomed to the loud sound of your breathing and heartbeat. It’s only natural for your baby to find the sounds of white noise, heartbeats or ocean waves to be soothing. Therefore, a sound machine such as a Lullaby Sound Machine may be an effective sleep aid in your home.
This is a tool that I had not known its effectiveness until I enrolled little one in preschool at 18 months. The instructors used a sound machine during the kid’s nap time and they all napped! I immediately ran to the store to purchase the sound machine they used at the facility and we still use it today.
Establish a routine
As bedtime approaches, focus on a set routine so that your baby will become accustomed to a nighttime ritual. Setting a routine allows your baby to familiarize themselves with when it’s time for sleep. If you decide to have bath time before bedtime, baby will become familiar with this routine and understand it’s time for bed. In our home, we have established a routine that begins with a bath, a nighttime bottle with cuddles in the rocking chair and then baby is set in his crib for bed time.
The first few weeks may be tough. However, once baby comprehends the routine and has adapted to the change, the little one will settle down by themselves. The ability to self soothe will be recognized and baby will doze off peacefully once the routine is in place.
Method to the Madness
Everything is in place and it’s an opportune time for you to transition from co-sleeping to the crib. There are several approaches you can take. Many have their own opinion on which methods work best and which are awful or cruel. I find that to establish a solid routine you must maintain a strong will and the ability to stick to it. One method that has proven successful for many mothers and encourages your baby to self soothe is the Ferber Method.
The Ferber Method is essentially a cry-it-out scenario. However, there is a systematic way to go about it. First, carry out your nighttime routine that you have established for your baby. Once baby is fed and ready for bed, lay them in their crib and leave the room. Once baby is down, don’t look back. Don’t, say another word and don’t wait by the door and peak at them. Leave!
Now the method begins. Overall, you will let your little one fuss for a period of time, in increasing intervals and re-enter the room. The first time you leave the room, let baby cry for about three minutes, then re-enter the room. Don’t pick them up. Simply let them see you, use comforting words to calm them as much as you can and leave once more. This time leave for five minutes and return. Don’t pick them up and offer calming words. Leave again and don’t return for another eight minutes.
Repeat this process increases the intervals of time after each visit until baby is asleep. The next night increase the start time from leaving for three minutes to five and continue from there. Below is a quick visual overlooking five nights using this method.
Give it Time
This can be a painstaking process. No one wants to hear their baby cry or wail in distress. Rest assured that despite criticism regarding this method, there are no long term harmful effects as a result. The pediatric association in fact supports this method and guidelines. Dr. Ferber has recently revised his methods to help mothers who utilize co-sleeping and is now more open to the benefits of the co-sleeping movement. You can read all the knowledge shared by Dr. Ferber in his most recent edition of “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems“.
This is a big step in you and your child’s life. I hope that my advice and tips can prove useful in your transition from co-sleeping to crib. Take it slow, have patience and just embrace this change. Soon, your baby will be sleeping in their crib peacefully and you get your bed back! Good luck!