Whether your baby has been co-sleeping, slumbering in a bassinet in your bedroom or has simply grown accustomed to falling asleep in your arms, putting him to sleep in his own crib can be challenging. According to ZerotoThree.org, you can put your baby to sleep in a crib at any point. Teaching your baby that his crib is a secure, comfortable place for sleeping can help alleviate the separation anxiety of a toddler who's reluctant to sleep by himself.
Safe Crib Environment
Your baby's crib should contain only a crib sheet. Blankets, pillows and stuffed animals could potentially suffocate a young baby. As an alternative to padded bumpers, line your baby's crib rails with mesh guard panels to prevent any tiny limbs from getting stuck through the slats. Keep the room slightly cool, and dress your baby in a sleep sack for extra warmth, if necessary.
Make Crib Time Sleep Time
It's tempting to place your baby in her crib to play with a toy or to watch the mobile, while you take a shower or get dressed. Unfortunately, this makes the purpose of the crib confusing. As Dr. Marc Weissbluth explains in his book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," you want your baby to associate her crib with sleeping and sleeping only. Place her in an infant seat when you want to keep her contained for a few moments rather than her crib.
Rocking, snuggling and soothing your baby are wonderful ways to show affection, but if the ultimate goal is your baby sleeping contentedly in his crib, he needs to learn to fall asleep on his own. To achieve this, cuddle and sing to your baby until he appears calm and drowsy, but is still very much awake. This calm, but awake, state is when you should place your baby in his crib, recommends ZerotoThree.org. By placing him in the crib while he's still awake, your baby has a model for putting himself to sleep.
If your baby has slept in your room or your bed up until now, it's understandable that being left alone in a crib results in anxious crying. This is why KidsHealth.org recommends gradually transitioning your baby, so his night time routine involves seeing you less frequently. Start out by entering the room and comforting your baby for a brief period every few minutes and gradually increase the time between visits. These regular, but boring, visits reassure your baby that you haven't abandoned him, but also reinforce that you expect him to sleep in his own crib.