Cutting the Cord: How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Independently

Are you ready to transition your baby into their own crib? How can you know if your baby is ready to make the switch?

Many parents love being able to closely monitor their babies at night, but some personal space can be a lifesaver.

It can be difficult to know when it’s the best time to move your little one into their own crib, and how you should go about doing it.

The transition to the crib is most likely going to be a process, so any extra tips and tricks can make that process a little shorter. We’ll teach you everything you need to know.


When Should You Make The Switch?

Most babies are ready to make the switch to a crib when they are around 3 or 4 months. It is likely your baby is beginning to outgrow its bassinet at this time.

Whatever your reason for wanting to transition your baby, you want to make it as easy as possible for both of you.

If your baby is still waking up frequently in the middle of the night for feedings, you may want to postpone the transition. As a tired parent, the last thing you want to do is continuously walk to another room multiple times a night. A bassinet or co-sleeper makes those night time wake-ups a bit easier.

If your baby is just now beginning to slowly wean off of the nighttime feedings, you probably shouldn’t make the transition quite yet. These are two big changes for your baby, and they need time to become acclimated to each one separately (source).

Your best chance at getting your baby to adjust to a crib is to wait until the middle of the night feedings come to an end if you can.

Put Safety First

But if your baby is getting too big for the bassinet, you’ll have to switch to a crib because safety should always come before your convenience.

Some parents utilize the crib from the first day they bring their baby home, and that is perfectly acceptable. It actually makes things easier in the long run.

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What Will You Need?

The crib transition actually requires a little more than just a crib. You have to ensure the overall sleeping environment is safe for your baby at all times.

To do this, you should note the following:

  • Purchase a full-sized crib so your baby has room to grow.
  • A firm mattress is necessary to help your baby sleep better and safer. A soft mattress could pose a suffocation risk.
  • Your baby needs a clear sleeping space that is free of stuffed animals, pillows, or blankets. If you are concerned about your baby becoming cold, you can purchase a sleep sack. Blankets and stuffed animals are hazards for suffocation.
  • You should always place your baby to sleep on its back. This is the safest way, and it helps reduce the chances of your baby suffering from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)
  • A baby monitor is important for you to keep tabs on your baby since they may no longer be in your room. Some parents choose to utilize a video monitor, while the audio ones suffice for others.
  • Your baby needs a suitable room temperature to sleep comfortably. It is best to keep the room between 68 to 72 degrees.
  • If you’re buying a second-hand crib, make sure it isn’t a drop-side crib because those can pose risks to your baby.

How To Make The Transition

Getting your baby to adjust to their crib and sleep in it at night can be a daunting task. Some babies have already formed sleeping habits that can be difficult to break.

The good news is most habits won’t last forever. Eventually, your baby will learn to prefer their own bed and the sleep-inducing environment that awaits.

There are several different tips and tricks that can help encourage your baby to sleep in its crib.

1. Consistency Is Key

Your baby will thrive on routine. If you only try to have your baby sleep in the crib a couple of nights a week, it probably isn’t going to work.

If you are prepared to make this transition for your baby, then you need to follow through with it. You should put your baby to bed in the crib every night. There will probably be many tears shed, but your baby will learn to love the crib.

2. Normalize The Crib

Your baby prefers sleeping in other places because they have become familiar. It would be no surprise that your baby misses being close to momma, so cuddle up with the crib sheets a couple of times before placing them in the crib — this way they acquire your scent. Also make sure the sheets aren’t too cold because that can be an instant waker-upper.

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3. Help Your Baby Become Accustomed

Your baby isn’t going to immediately love this foreign environment. It is a new area it hasn’t been able to decide on quite yet.

Your baby will likely not be able to settle in an unknown environment, so try to make it more inviting.

  • Move the crib into your room and have your baby sleep in it. This will help your baby adjust to the new sleeping quarters in a familiar environment, still close to mom.
  • Hang out in your baby’s room in a rocking chair until they fall asleep in their crib, then sneak out.
  • You can start small with naptime. If your baby can become used to napping in the crib, bedtime should become a breeze.

4. Don’t Be A Runner

When you place your baby in the crib and walk away, give them some time to try to settle down alone. Many parents choose to run right in to the rescue, and this only hinders the process.

You don’t have to leave your baby in there forever, but try to gradually increase the amount of time before you run in. Your baby may be able to fall asleep on their own faster than you think.

5. Step Away

The transition into a crib can be harder on the parent than the child sometimes. Your patience will be tested and you probably will become frustrated.

As long as your baby has a safe environment in his or her crib, don’t feel guilty about giving yourself time to cool down. Take 15 to 20 minutes to shower or listen to music. It is much better for you and your baby if you allow yourself time to recompose rather than lose your temper.

Babies are tough, and there is no shame in needing a minute to walk away.

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6. Be Flexible

What works for some babies might not work for yours. You know your baby best.

Some parents resort to some pretty crazy things to get their baby to sleep independently. There is no shame in your bizarre method if it is safe and effective. There is no right or wrong way.

7. Non-Sleep Time

If you only go into your baby’s room when it is time to sleep, chances are your baby will fuss every time. You should try to have some play time in the bedroom so your baby can actually enjoy being in the room with you. It is important your baby has more than just negative emotions to associate with its bedroom (source).

The transition will not be completely successful in one night. It is important you gradually make the change and implement the crib into the daily routine. You should try to implement some type of noise machine into your baby’s room for soothing purposes if the transition is overly difficult.

Note

If your baby does not yet know how to fall asleep on his or her own, the transition into the crib will be far more difficult.

Transitioning From Swing to Crib

Some parents have had their babies sleep in a swing every night. There are dangers associated with this so it isn’t recommended by experts.

If you’ve already let your baby sleep in a swing, this can be a difficult habit to break. A swing offers constant motion and a baby can become dependent on that.

The crib transition is possible with a little work, and here is how you can do it.

  • Place your baby in the swing awake: You need to first allow your baby to learn to fall asleep on their own. As soon as they fall asleep in the swing, move them to the crib. Yes, a swing is still helping them, but they’ll also get used to the crib this way.
  • Your baby needs sleep cues: If your baby has a great nightly routine that consists of white noise, swaddling them, or something else — that’s great. You need to make sure your baby has sleep cues other than the swing. This way, your baby does not fully rely on the swing to know it is time to sleep.
  • Put the swing near the crib: If you have had the swing close to you and your bed, it is time to move it into your baby’s room. Your baby can become familiar with the new room all while maintaining the comfort provided by the swing. Just remember to move your baby to the crib as soon as they fall asleep to keep it safer.
  • Gradually decrease swing speed: Your baby has probably become accustomed to the constant motion of the swing, and this is something that obviously will no longer happen once the crib transition occurs. To better prepare your baby for this you should gradually decrease or stop the swing speed. Your baby will adjust to the changes in motion much better than if you ceased it all at once.
  • Make the switch: Once your baby is successfully sleeping in the motionless swing, you can try to make the transition into the crib. Your baby will probably put up a fight, but it should adjust just fine. The transition will also be a gradual process, so expect tears for numerous nights (source).

The transition out of a swing is usually more difficult than other transitions. The movement the swing provided can be difficult to wean your baby from. As long as you are consistent and persistent, it is possible.

Transitioning Without Crying It Out

It is inevitable that babies cry, but some parents feel strongly about letting their baby cry it out.

If you are a parent trying to make the transition into the crib and you plan on rescuing your baby at every cry, there are some tips and tricks for you.

  • Crib introduction: You should introduce your baby to the crib so it is not some scary, unfamiliar object. You could try to place your baby in the crib and play with it while it is in there. Keep the lights on and make the environment stimulating.You can try to get some things done around the room, but make sure to stay in your baby’s sight. If any crying happens, go ahead and rescue your little one.
  • Try nap time: If your baby seems accustomed to the crib and doesn’t fuss when in it for play time, try to initiate nap time. You can rock your baby entirely to sleep or just until drowsy, then place it in the crib and leave the room.If your baby sleeps, awesome, but if not go in and get him. It is believed this method helps you build trust with your baby because they know that at any moment of discomfort, they will be saved.
  • Consistent naps: Don’t try to master bedtime in the crib quite yet. You should continue only doing nap time in the crib for at least several weeks. You want to make sure your baby is completely comfortable with the crib, and this rightfully takes time.
  • Attempt bedtime: Just like you did for nap time, try the same for bedtime. Make sure any part of the bedtime routine is now taking place in the same room as the crib. If you read to your baby in your room, now read in the baby’s room.It is going to take time for this adjustment to happen, and you may have some sleepless nights. Your baby will eventually get the hang of it, so don’t give up (source).

The no-crying-it-out method is definitely not for everyone. It requires a lot of patience and it will probably become overwhelming. You are going to have some good days, and you will definitely have some bad.

It is a great way to transition your baby without him or her developing negative emotions toward the crib.

You need to make sure both parents are fully committed to this routine because it will not work if it is only attempted by one parent. You also should make sure you begin this transition at an appropriate time. If you are going to be staying somewhere other than your house, such as if you are on vacation, you need to wait to begin.

If this method doesn’t work for you, you aren’t stuck with it. You can always try a different routine — there is one out there that will be perfect for your and your baby.


The Bottom Line

Babies thrive on routine, so changes to their “normal” are going to come with some bumps in the road. The crib transition is going to take a lot of patience and effort, but it will eventually be successful.

Try not to put a timeline on transitioning your baby. All babies will make the transition at their own pace. All you can do is keep a consistent bedtime routine and promote a safe sleeping environment.

If nothing seems to work, try something new. There are numerous methods out there to try to make crib transitions as easy as possible for all parties involved. Maybe your baby isn’t quite ready, and that’s okay. Try again in a couple weeks.

Don’t be disappointed if your baby struggles to make the transition — a part of you will most likely be sad about your baby-free bedroom.

Parenthood is full of many challenges, and I am sure there were other hurdles you never thought you would overcome. The crib transition is tough, but it is possible. Hang in there!

Feel free to leave your opinions regarding this topic in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this article and thought it was helpful, please give it a share!

1 Reader Comment

  1. It is not an easy task! I wanted to have no-cry transition and I regret not doing enough research on the topic first. I’ve started with naps and put him down drowsy – cry. Tried putting him asleep – a bit better but still did not want to stay there night long. Finally, I decided to get some help and I’ve found gentle sleep-training method book called “How to Teach a Baby to Fall Asleep Alone” that helped us. We associated change with the HWL training and it was the perfect solution. In fact – he is sleeping much longer now! I highly recommend using sleep-training during the transition.

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