Many of my clients have hurdles to overcome in the process of trying to get better sleep as a family, bed-sharing being a very common one. Any time they attempt to have their child sleep anywhere but their bed, it is almost always an ordeal that ends with their child back in their bed and them back to square one. Although the AAP discourages bed-sharing for safety reasons, I fully realize that many families resort to this in the early months of their child’s life out of valid sleep needs or for cultural or philosophical reasons, and try to do so as safely as possible. If you’ve decided that you want to move from bed-sharing to your little one sleeping in their own sleep space, I want to share some tips on how to successfully make the transition from bed-sharing to crib so that everyone is getting the restful, safe sleep they need! Here are a few tips for making this transition for all of you!
- Start some play-time in the crib: A good way to get your little one used to the crib and associate with it positively is by starting with some playtime there! Beginning with this for as long as your child is interested will get them more comfortable with the space.
- While you are still bed-sharing, try to remove dependence from nursing to sleep: I know this is a tough one for many nursing mamas, but eliminating the need to be nursed to sleep every time will make moving to the crib much easier. Rather than nursing till your baby is completely asleep, try nursing till they are drowsy, then unlatching them and putting your hand on their chest to soothe them to sleep. Doing so will help your transition to the crib because you can also help them fall asleep with a hand on their chest when putting them to sleep in the crib as well.
- Start trying for naps in the crib: This can be hit or miss, but sometimes babies will be willing to nap in the crib before spending the whole night there. Try to have baby take regular naps in the crib to continue getting them comfortable with sleeping there.
- Sleep with your baby’s crib sheet (or small blanket/lovey if over 1 year of age): This one may sound a little strange, but by sleeping with a fabric that will be in your child’s crib, your smell will be on it. Having their sleep space smell like you can provide comfort and familiarity for your child, both of which greatly help while making this change. Remember to wait until at least a year for a small blanket or lovey, as they can be potential suffocation hazards according to the AAP.
- Start with the crib in your room OR move a mattress into their room for the first few nights: Having you sleeping in the same room despite not sharing a bed can help ease your child into sleeping in their crib. Whether the crib is in your room or you move into their room for a few days while they adjust, for many children this will increase your chance of success!
I hope these tips help you if you are looking to make the switch to the crib! I’d like to point out that none of these tips will necessarily eliminate or prevent night-wakings. These are simply for getting your baby comfortable with sleep in the crib. If you would like to eliminate night-wakings, some kind of sleep training method would have to be involved, which I can also help with! 🙂 Now, best of luck getting your bed back to yourself! I will be crossing my fingers that a good night’s sleep, free of you getting kicked in the side is in your future ;).