Getting a baby to sleep is one thing, having them sleep in their own bed after getting used to sleeping in your arms or bed is a whole other spectacle. It’s like living in the most beautiful, cozy home, then being forced to move out into, well, a not so cozy one.
It is a big transition that takes time and patience to get used to, but you eventually do. Transitioning a baby from the comfort of your arms to a crib that is not only different in temperature, but in texture too can be challenging but it’s possible. Consider the following tips on how to get baby to sleep in a crib.
Every baby needs a crib eventually and in keeping with crib safety standards that no longer allow for drop-side rail cribs, the product and material you choose must be safety certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association.
You may be tempted to buy a soft quilted mattress because of their comfort, but they pose a suffocation risk for an infant. A crib mattress should be firm and be made without vinyl or chemical flame retardants. It must also fit the dimensions of the crib perfectly, have no gaps or budging and carry a Greenguard accreditation to certify that it emits low emissions of volatile organic chemicals into the air.
As far as baby beddings are concerned, knit cotton, flannel, and high-count woven cotton are good options for fabric provided they are machine washable. Vertical crib liners offer protection for baby’s limbs from their flailing arms as well as padding whenever baby moves around their crib.
A soft, tightly fitted bottom sheet is highly recommended as it reduces the risks of entanglement or suffocation. You may also need to get about two or three machine-washable, waterproof mattress protectors or pads to protect the mattress from any diaper fails.
Babies are creatures of comfort and routine. They need warmth to cozy-up and feel safe, and what better place than in mom and dad’s arms?
I can understand totally if you have a situation like mine, where your baby spent a considerable amount of time in the NICU nursery after birth and it was actually detrimental to be skin to skin and holding baby 24/7. I kept my son inside my shirt for long periods of time so he would heal quicker. He stayed in the NICU until he was two months old.
Changing a baby’s routine will take time and patience and in order to help him or her feel safe and comfortable while sleeping in a crib, it’s important to ensure that the bed is not too cold before putting the baby down – enter The Magic Sleepsuit® It’s not only warm and cozy, but you can also nurse and cuddle the baby while they are in a sleep suit and eventually put them to bed in it. The idea is to eliminate any loose cover such as a heavy blanket or quilt that can increase a baby’s risk of infant death syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation.
Use your good judgement either when swaddling or using a sleep suit on baby. If it is during the summer and nights are hot and humid don’t swaddle your baby. If using a baby sleep suit or a sleep sack doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can consider swaddling him or her during the first few weeks, however, after six weeks, ensure that you leave at least one of your baby’s arm free because often times they will use it to either for self-soothing or communicate hunger by sucking their hand.
This method works like a charm, especially when you want the baby to acclimatize with his or her new surroundings. This can be achieved either by increasing a baby’s awake so that they are tired enough to fall asleep, or establishing a sleep routine, which can be anything from a bath, massage, soft music, swaddle, dimming the room, turning on white noise, etc. These routines prepare your baby to anticipate sleep, which in turn, helps them fall asleep faster and longer.
Putting your baby down sleepy but awake is also a great way to allow him or her to settle themselves and if they cry or fuss, it’s important to offer reassurance with a few kisses, cuddles, and pats on the back to resettle them, then step out of the room quietly.
It’s recommended to start putting your baby down sleepy or drowsy but awake in the first 3-4 months so that he or she can begin to develop sleep associations that do not rely on mom and dad for comfort and settling at night.
Additionally, this method also helps a child associate the crib with bedtime, and he or she will no longer need help getting back to sleep or require constant feeding or soothing during the night.
So like I said, when my son was first born he spent the first month and a half in the NICU nursery due to complications. So since the very beginning he had nurses and myself tending to him 24/7. Because he needed me to breastfeed him as well as constant love & attention, the hospital housed me there with my son as “guest” and not a patient. I would stay in the NICU all day and night holding my son next to my body.
After I had brought him home, I made the mistake of letting him sleep right next to me for two months straight AND THEN attempting to put him in his own bed for the very first time when he was around 4 months old – you know what that was like? It was like pulling a tooth!
I attempted to place him in his bed drowsy but awake and every single time he would cry ever so loudly, and since he was too young to sleep train ( ie: allow him to cry it out ) I would have to pick him up, rock him, and he would fall asleep in my arms. Then I would place him in his bed, which ultimately made it much harder for me to sleep train him when he turned 6 months old.
Putting your baby into bed drowsy but awake from the get-go is also a great way to teach him or her to self-soothe, where your baby can calm down, relax and go to sleep again on their own. This, again teaches a child very early on to associate their crib with sleep. Some babies however, will suddenly jerk awake as soon as their head touches the pillow and in that case, you have to pick them up and rock them again.
It can become very tiring, I understand, after relentlessly rocking and then ever so slowly placing your baby down into their bed only to have them suddenly wake up again.
You might give up and just rock them to sleep until they are completely out, and that is when you place them in their bed – THAT is OKAY! You want to at least try as soon as you can to get your baby to learn better sleep habits, but you can only do your best and you cannot let your baby cry it out or sleep train them until they are at least 6 months old.
For some babies, the putting your baby to sleep drowsy but awake method may take some time, especially during the first few days of crib transition but if you give it a honest shot and keep trying, your baby can become used to sleeping in their crib faster and easier.
Dimmer light or darkness activates your body’s sleep hormone known as melatonin, therefore, working with your baby’s sleep at this point is key.
Once you determine your child’s exact naptime, you can begin setting the stage for sleep in the baby’s room, for instance by drawing the curtains, swaddling and sitting with your baby for a few minutes as you singing a lullaby to help relax and settle him or her.
It is ok to be flexible about feeding and sleep times when it comes to a newborn, but it still helps to start early and establish a routine that follows a particular order to help your baby settle into a regular sleep pattern.
For starters, try to avoid letting your baby sleep for more than four hours at a time during the day unless they really need to. The last thing you need is to limit your baby’s sleep too much enough to tire him or her out and make it harder to get to sleep at night.
Generally, newborns need to be fed every 2-4 hours and sleep better after a feed. Figuring out how to get your baby to sleep in a crib should be a good experience that will create a positive bedtime routine that both parties can enjoy in the long run.