In the first year, parents often co-sleep with their babies for safety and convenience. Breast-feeding is easier when the baby is nearby because the mother can feed the baby without getting out of bed. New parents also feel more secure knowing their babies are close where they can see them and check on them easily. Many parents will only co-sleep for the first few weeks or months of their babies’ lives, and then move the babies to their own cribs. There are several different methods that can be used to assist parents in transitioning a co-sleeping baby to a crib. One method is the "cry-it-out" method, which can help your baby learn to go to sleep on his own.
Preparing for the Transition
Set up a baby monitor so that you will be able to hear and/or see your baby in the crib. This will make it easier to decide whether you need to go to your child right away or let the baby self-soothe.
Spend time playing in your baby's room with her to get her used to the new environment. Read books together, explore all corners of the room and show her that it is a safe, happy place to be.
Put your baby down for daytime naps in the crib. This will get the child used to the crib and help the baby see that the crib is a place for sleeping.
Offer extra affection during daytime hours to make up for the loss of all-night snuggling. The more affection you show to your baby, the more secure the baby will be in your love.
First Night of Transition to the Crib
Give the baby a bath, a bottle or feeding from the breast, read him books and give him snuggle time. This is a routine that will soothe the baby. The baby will be more likely to adapt to a new sleeping arrangement if he gets used to a comforting routine.
Prepare the room for sleep by turning on the baby monitor, night light and white noise or music. You can use a fan or white noise machine for white noise.
Place the baby in the crib drowsy but awake and leave the room. If the baby is crying, wait for a few minutes and go back into the dark room and soothe the baby without picking her up, then leave again. The baby will see that you are close by when she cries, and she will feel more secure.
Return to the baby's room a second time if he is still crying after a few more minutes. Repeat the same soothing techniques and leave the room again. Continue this until the baby falls asleep. It could take quite a bit of time and several trips to the baby's room for the first couple of nights before the baby is able to comfort himself.
Talk to your doctor about the best way to transition the baby to the crib.
If your baby is still crying excessively after several nights of trying the cry-it-out method, wait a few weeks and try again.
Try setting up a bed or mattress on the floor by the baby's bed to be close to him if he continues to have trouble transitioning to the crib.
Do not add too many extra items to your baby’s crib to make it more comfortable. Loose blankets and pillows can cause the baby to have trouble breathing.