Transitioning a baby to crib is not the easiest of tasks. All three of my kids preferred their baby swings. That meant I had to go through the pain of transitioning baby to crib with EACH of mine.
I tried to get my babies used to sleeping in a crib because cribs are recommended. At first it always seemed promising, but a couple of days or weeks later and my babies weren’t having it! I tried everything from different swaddles to white noise to letting them fall asleep on me first. NOTHING worked! The swing is how they slept best, so that is what they got!
Some people suggest co-sleeping, but I couldn’t lay down with mine EVERY time they slept. I’m also a work-from-home mom and have other children, so that just wasn’t an option. Plus, I even tried a couple of nights at first but it would get so uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep. I’d end up moving the baby back to the swing in the middle of the night.
I was EXHAUSTED. He was EXHAUSTED. SOMETHING had to change.
Transitioning Baby to Crib
With my second child, he slept in the swing so good at first. Then he began waking almost EVERY hour at night.
I would put him in bed with me to nurse but he wouldn’t sleep there either. After nursing, he’d squirm, whine and toss and turn. I’d put him back in the swing and he’d sleep for an hour. Then the process would start all over. I WAS EXHAUSTED. HE WAS EXHAUSTED. Something had to change.
He was about five months old when I started transitioning him to his crib. He slept in the swing day AND night so I had to change BOTH naps and bedtime. I started transitioning my baby to crib for his naps first.
Transitioning baby to crib for naps
First, I tried getting him to sleep in the swing without it moving, so he would get used to sleeping stationary. He didn’t respond to this so I had to give up on that method and just move him to the crib.
When I started trying to get him in his crib for his naps, he HATED it. He cried, he struggled, he screamed, I cried. I’d do everything I normally did before I laid him down, but nothing worked. SO, I had no choice but to change it up.
After some reading, I decided to leave him in his crib and not pick him back up after I put him down. I made sure to start the process EARLY enough so he wasn’t passing his sleep window. Then, I’d bounce him, sing him a few songs and lay him down about 30 minutes before he needed to be asleep.
He’d cry as soon as I’d put him down in the crib. I’d turn him over on his belly and leave him like that. Then I’d start patting his back and butt while still singing to him. It was a definite struggle at first. I’d get tired of standing there and my back would hurt, BUT, low and behold, after awhile of doing that, he would fall asleep.
After he was asleep, I would start to sing more quietly and gently slow the patting on his back. Then I would SLOWLY remove my hand. I didn’t want to accidentally wake him and have to start the process ALL over.
It took a week or so of doing this routine for him to start getting the hang of it. I could then put him down, pat his back, sing a couple of songs, leave and he’d be good.
Parenting is hard sometimes and forces you to make hard choices and do things you wish you didn’t have to
Transitioning baby to crib for bedtime
THEN it was time for transitioning baby to crib at bedtime. I wish I could say that because naps were good now that bedtime was easy; NOPE. I tried doing what had worked for his naps, but he wasn’t having it. I had no choice but to resort to the dreaded “cry it out” method. Parenting is hard sometimes and forces you to make hard choices and do things you wish you didn’t have to.
I made sure my baby boy was bathed, fed, dry and happy. Then I did our normal routine and laid him down. View these tips first if you need help on getting baby to lay down without nursing or bottle-feeding to sleep. Also, it’s important to make sure your baby isn’t teething, already past their normal bedtime, or going through any other life adjustments at the time. If you’re in the process of moving, traveling, starting a new job, weaning, etc it will make the process more difficult.
Now this method isn’t for everybody and I’m totally okay with that. I had tried the gentler methods and they weren’t working. When I put him down, I knew there wasn’t anything else he needed other than sleep. I also made sure to put him down a little early so he could be asleep at the time he normally would fall asleep. View more on sleep training, here.
Does he think I don’t love him? Am I damaging him? Will this work? Will he ever go to sleep? Do I just give in and go get him?
I put him to bed and sat in my living room, ALONE, and watched him cry on the monitor. My husband was out of town for work and my oldest was having a sleepover somewhere else for the night. I’m not going to lie, it was HARD. All the questions go through your head. Does he think I don’t love him? Am I damaging him? Will this work? Will he ever go to sleep? Do I just give in and go get him? But I waited.
I gave myself a time limit to let him cry and I researched online for other people’s stories to make myself feel better. Some people said it’d take an hour or more the first time. I HOPED IT WOULD NOT TAKE AN HOUR.
Listening to your baby cry is TORTURE. It pulls at your heart strings and sometimes will make you cry, which I’m pretty sure I cried. BUT GUESS WHAT? It took less than an hour. He went to sleep!! AND he only woke one time in the night!! When he woke up he cried for maybe 30 minutes. I watched him on the monitor the whole time until he fell back to sleep.
MY BABY, that was waking EVERY HOUR before, WENT TO SLEEP and SLEPT almost the WHOLE NIGHT!! In the morning when he woke up (pretty sure he slept like 10 or 11 hours), I gave him extra hugs and love just to reassure him that mommy still loved him.
My husband came home from his work trip and he had a good sleeper and I was SUPER mom.
The struggle was HARD but SOOO worth it!! The next night he cried for about 20 minutes and only woke up once for a short amount of time. The THIRD night, he barely cried at all and slept ALLLLL NIGHT! SUCCESS!! My rested mama heart was SO HAPPY. He was getting sleep, I was getting sleep, it only took ONE EXTREMELY HARD night and we had done it!
My husband came home from his trip and he had a good sleeper and I was SUPER mom. 😊 And my baby isn’t damaged. He still gave me hugs and love and I made sure to give him extra hugs and love! That little boy is almost three now and still a great sleeper. He still goes to bed at 8 and gets up at 7 or 8 and takes at LEAST a 2-hour nap in the afternoon.
My third baby
So, let’s move on to my third child, my little girl. She is the EASIEST baby in most ways but sleep wasn’t her strongest suit.
I swaddled her and put her in the swing next to my bed. At about one month old she figured out how to FLIP herself over in the swing. SHE COULDN’T EVEN TURN OVER YET in real life but somehow could flip herself over in the swing, of course. She could even flip over when she was buckled tightly! How that even happens, I don’t know!
We tried a couple different sleeping apparatuses and we landed on a MamaRoo. A MamaRoo is a ($200!!) bouncer that had six different settings that simulated mother’s movements. I was willing to try anything at that point to help her sleep. She didn’t really sleep much better in it than anything else, but I had no other options so I just kept putting her in there. It eventually worked and she started sleeping great in there!
Moving baby to her own room
I was ready to move her into her own room down the hall when she was about 3 months old. I had gotten her to where she could fall asleep by herself (more tips on this here). She could also roll at this point and I wanted to try and transition her to her crib.
I used all the tactics I had learned from my past babies. She actually did great and slept in the MamaRoo without it in motion and I put her in her crib after a couple of days. I did our normal nap routine, laid her down and let her cry a little. She didn’t cry too bad the first time and went to sleep after a little while.
The problem was she would somehow turn over and her arm would get stuck behind her when she tried to turn back over. She would just get mad and start crying and then screaming and then she couldn’t get back to sleep. I still kept putting her down in her crib for naps and bedtime to see if it would sort itself out, but it didn’t. The same thing would happen, and she couldn’t go back to sleep.
Finally, I gave up and just moved the MamaRoo into her room. I left it turned off and let her sleep in there. She did great in there for months!
Transitioning my third baby to crib
I decided to wait until she could crawl to try her crib again so she’d be able to move around more easily. When she started crawling at 9 months, I tried the crib again. She was already used to her nap and bedtime routines, so I just stuck with those and put her in her crib.
Because I had success before with my son with the cry-it-out method, that’s what I decided to do. Cry-it-out was the quickest way, in my experience, for transitioning baby to crib. She cried at first for a little while, but same as with my son, it was probably about 30 minutes and then she SLEPT. In her crib, all night, and we were done!
If you want to hear about the positive results I’ve experienced from using the cry it out method, view this article here.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or experiences you’d like to share below! I’m also always glad to lend some advice or help in any way I can!