Sleep training is a process. Some parts of it are easier – and other parts are harder. And, depending on how you do it, getting your baby to sleep in crib can be the easiest (or hardest!) part of your sleep training journey.
That being said, let’s go over some of the tips, tricks, and ideas that have – and have not – worked for me and other parents I’ve chatted with.
Because that way, you can take the easier, faster route to getting your child to sleep in their own crib – so that you can sleep in your own bed, too. Doesn’t that sound amazing? (hint: yes, yes it does!)
What factors will affect getting a baby to sleep in a crib?
Okay, so getting your baby to sleep in their own crib is going to depend on several factors. Factors like:
- their developmental (and actual) age
- how they’ve been sleeping in the past
- how you make the crib transition
- your own timeline and goals
Some babies will be fine sleeping in a crib from birth. Others, not so much.
For some of us, hearing our children cry is too painful. And we end up self-sabotaging our own efforts to get them moved into their own crib or bassinet because we bring them back to bed with us, instead. And isn’t that cozier for them? Of course it is!
So the first part of getting your child to sleep in a crib is really committing to it. Then, it’s making a plan so that it actually happens. No more wishing – it’s time to do!
At what age can you crib train a baby?
There’s no right or wrong age to crib train a baby. There’s just when it works for you, your baby, and your family.
For us, my kids wouldn’t sleep in a crib for more than an hour or two at a time until they were at least 6 months old. For other parents, their babies would sleep in a crib for a nap or two each day – and it got progressively better from there. Yet other parents had children who slept in their cribs from birth.
That being said, the magic age for sleep training my children seems to have been right around 6 months old.
Does that mean that you can’t work on transitioning your children into a crib before then? No, of course not!
I began crib training my children from birth. But it was a slow process – one that meant I was trying to get them to sleep in a crib for as long as possible each day. And the next day, I tried to make it for a few minutes longer.
Crib training is a process – it won’t happen overnight. But it will happen!
So how do you help a baby transition to a crib?
Here’s how I did it.
I started at birth. After all, the hospital already has those cute little baby carriers and my newborn would sleep in that for a short while. So, I kept that up.
At home, that translated into feeding the baby and putting them down into their bassinet for a few minutes. Then, if my child settled down and went to sleep for a nap, great! I had a short cat nap’s worth of time to do what I needed to – like take a shower.
Most often, I found that I could get my child to take one nap, even if it was short, in a crib. And I could make it a tad longer by swaddling the baby and providing a sleep-ready environment. Now, as my child got older, the swaddle came off and nap routines became more pronounced.
At bedtime, I stuck to our bedtime routine. At naps, we fed, sang a song, and rocked for a few minutes. Then, it was crib time.
Try putting your baby down in the crib. If they fuss, refer to your sleep training plan and go from there. For us, that meant giving my baby up to 10 minutes to play, self-soothe, whine or even cry. After that 10 minute mark, if they hadn’t calmed down and fallen asleep, then I went in to calm them.
I’d rock them again – and then they usually fell asleep in my arms. From there, I had to debate between attempting to put them down or holding them for a few minutes until I was sure I could put them in their crib.
Either way, I still tried again. And for the most part, it worked. The few times it didn’t, I picked them back up, rocked them, and consigned myself to baby cuddling and scrolling social media while I waited.
Now, that gets harder as you have more children, because then you’ve got mobile children to watch. That being said, it’s still possible. You might just have to give older children something to do for a few minutes while you’re getting the baby settled.
What do you do when your baby won’t sleep in their crib?
Well, there are two options, really.
Option one is you can keep on doing what you’re doing. Maybe that means using a swing for naps or babywearing or going for a drive to get a nap. In some instances, these are lifesavers. Especially if, while in the middle of a crib transition, you decide that a nap is better than no nap.
Option 2 is to keep trying – while using option 1 as a backup. Because when you keep trying? You’ll see the results. They won’t be fast – but they will come. It worked for me – and my kids were absolute stinkers about wanting to be held 24/7 until… well, they still want to be held 24/7. *shrug*
But at least now they sleep in their own beds – so that I can sleep in my own bed, too. And we’re all tons better rested and happier that way.
- How to Survive and Rock Sleep Training Your Kids
- How to Make a Sleep Training Plan for Your Kids
- Want to Know ‘How Many Naps Does My Child Need?’
- How to Finally Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
- How to Manage a Sleep Regression at Any Age
- How to Manage Night Wakings and Getting Baby Back to Sleep
- How to Survive A Baby Sleep Regression (Even When You Share a Room)