How to Easily Transition Your Baby from Co-Sleeping to Crib
Here’s a scenario that all co-sleeping families are familiar with: You’ve loved waking up with your little one every morning. Giving them a snuggle as the sun shines through your bedroom window. Watching their little eyes open to the world and greet you with a gentle smile as a way to hello.
But one day it just hits you: it’s time to stop co-sleeping and give your child the independence to be in their own baby crib. Which means you have to figure out how to transition your baby from co-sleeping to crib without stressing them (or you) out.
If you’ve been sleeping within arm’s reach of your baby for a while, you know all about the many co-sleeping benefits. You might also know that co-sleeping has a magical way of fostering independence in your little one, which will go far in making this transition from co-sleeping to crib as easy as can be.
But what’s the secret to stopping co-sleeping without stress?
Well, here it is:
Consistency is key
On the list of best practices for how to transition baby from co-sleeping to crib, being consistent takes the top spot.
It can be difficult (okay, not just difficult—sometimes it can feel gosh darn impossible!) to think logically when you’re woken up at 2 am from a deep dream state.
But once you’ve put a plan for transition in place, it’s important to follow through on it. Not just sometimes. But every single night of the week.
Keeping consistent will help your baby feel more comfortable with the sleeping changes you’re making. Which will shorten the transition process and help you get back to the long nights of restful sleep you crave. Fast.
Of course, there might be nights when your half-asleep brain doesn’t quite stop your parenting instincts in time and your transition plan goes out the window.
Don’t worry about one or two-speed bumps along the way. Just get back on track with your transition plan the next night.
Keep your baby close
Just because you’ve decided to move baby into a crib of their own doesn’t mean you have to move your baby far away.
Choosing to gradually transition from co-sleeping to crib (rather than going all-in one night) can ease some of the stress for both you and baby.
On the first night you transition from co-sleeping to crib, keep your baby close by pushing the crib firmly against your bed. Your baby has been sleeping within arm’s reach for a long time now…which means being anything more than a few feet away from you might initially feel like a shock to the system.
By putting your baby’s new crib in the same spot next to you that they’ve gotten used to sleeping in, they’ll be able to keep a sense of familiarity. Even as they get used to their totally new sleep set-up.
As the nights go on, slowly start moving your baby’s crib farther away from your own sleeping space. Do that until your baby is fully comfortable and confident sleeping away from your side.
If you’re a co-sleeping family who has been using a co-sleeper crib:
For families who have been enjoying the many benefits of a bedside co sleeper throughout their co sleeping journey, this gradual transition can be made even easier.
Use a conversion kit to transform your bedside co sleeper into a baby bassinet. Then make a plan to start moving your baby’s bassinet away from your bedside slowly during the nights ahead.
Because baby is already familiar with the sensations of sleeping in their made-just-for-them baby bedside co sleeper, they’ll feel more confident and comfortable as they adjust to the changes in their sleep routine.
Instead of feeling the impact of many surprise changes at once (New mattress! New crib! More distance away from you!), they’ll be happy to catch some Z’s in the familiar sleeping space they already love.
Sleep with their stuff (so that they feel like they’re sleeping beside you!)
Your baby has slept right beside you for many nights, which means they’ve gotten used to being calmed by the familiar feeling of sensing you nearby.
(Fun fact! Because newborns are still learning how to find meaning in all the things they see and hear on the daily, they develop a strong awareness of smell. Which means just having you close enough to offer the comfort of scent will set them in a peaceful mood!)
Putting a little extra care into making sure that baby still feels the sensation of having you close (even when you’re across the room) can go a long way in making sure nights remain stress-free and rest-filled for all.
Sleep with your baby’s bed sheets for a few nights before you start the transition from co-sleeping to crib. By doing this, you’ll guarantee that your little one is surrounded by comfortable items that smell like you. So that when the time comes to set them up for a new sleep set-up, they’ll have all the extra comfort they need to make the transition from co-sleeping seem easier.
Of course: you’ll want to choose the item you give to baby wisely. Sleeping with bulky blankets or plush toys can be a safety concern for newborns. Which means leaving those kinds of items in their bed will leave you with more worry than peace of mind.
But by sleeping with baby’s sheets and fitting them snugly on your baby’s mattress before they tuck in for the night, you’ll be able to help soothe your baby and keep any separation anxiety away. Without a single safety concern.
Pick the right time
Only you know what’s best for you and your family. Which means only you know when will be the right time to transition baby from co sleeping to crib.
For many families, the decision to stop co sleeping will come when baby becomes too active during the night. Or when you more generally decide that it would be better for you to get back to having some space of your own.
But even if your decision to transition away from co sleeping is accompanied by some need to make the switch now! feelings, set the stage for an easy transition by making sure that it’s a good time to start a new routine.
Avoid making big changes when family is in town, a big project is forcing you to work long hours, or other big life events are taking over your time and emotional energy.
Making sure that both you and baby are feeling settled, calm, and ready to rock and roll toward a new routine will help keep things feeling stress-free.
Give yourself a break!
Though many parents wondering how to transition from co-sleeping to crib feel pressure to get the process “perfect,” remember that only you know what works best for your family.
Give yourself a break if there’s a day when your perfectly-made plans go out the window. And know that your baby will get comfortable and content with the transition from co sleeping to crib soon.
As long as you keep consistent in your plans, the day you’ll have successfully transitioned to a crib (instead of just Googling “how to transition your baby from co-sleeping to crib”) will come. Maybe even sooner than you think!