Ask anyone who has had kids what some of the hardest parts of their lives were, and they will most likely include parenthood on that list. Being a parent is super rewarding, but it is also extremely challenging. After all, you are bringing and raising a new life into the world.
While there are hundreds upon hundreds of child-rearing books out there, sometimes you just want a focused and quick answer to a question. Which is what this article will do by providing you with a detailed answer to the question, when do you swap the bassinet for the crib?
Raising an infant or child is a continuously changing and transitioning process that does not really ever stop. One of the first changes parents are likely to experience or go through is making the transition to crib sleeping once the bassinet no longer cuts it. However, you might not know when you can or should make the change, but don’t worry; there are physical signs you can look out for.
As a baby grows, they will gradually outgrow the confinements of the bassinet. This can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for the baby, particularly with regard to the weight limit of the bassinet. If you notice your baby sitting up in the bassinet, or if it looks like they cannot even roll over, then you know it’s time to change the bedtime routine.
Generally, babies start to outgrow their bassinets around 3-6 months old. This time frame is very dependent on whether your baby was born smaller or larger than average, but generally, the 3-month mark is an ideal age.
Now that we have an idea of when to make the move, the question is how to make the move. The transition for a baby from a bassinet to a crib can be a lot to take in for your little one. So to minimize any potential distress, it is highly recommended that you establish a method of sleep training to help familiarize the baby with their new sleeping environment.
Most babies don’t deal well when it comes to sudden changes. Because of this, it is advisable to do a series of smaller changes instead of one big one. The first step you can do is place your child into the crib during the daytime for their naps. This helps them start creating an association that cribs are for bedtime and hopefully adjust their sleep patterns.
While you might be tempted to fill the boring crib with stuffed animals and pillows, pediatricians and crib safety protocols do not recommend this. All you can do is ensure that you get the correct kinds of crib mattresses and crib sheets. This means purchasing sheets that can hoop/hook under the crib and purchasing a firm mattress, not a soft mattress.
The reason for getting a firm mattress and not filling the crib with toys is to avoid any accidental smothering. This horrific occurrence was so apparent that at one time, it came to be known as sudden infant death or crib death.
A firm mattress will prevent the baby from trapping their face into softer materials and ideally keeping them on their backs which is the safest sleep position. Again, crib safety must always be one of your top concerns.
Say you have now allowed your baby to sleep in their crib for daytime naps for about a week as part of the sleep preparation transition away from using bassinets. The next step will be to move the crib into your bedroom to be used when your baby sleeps at nighttime. Depending on how big the room is, it might prove tricky getting the crib to fit into your bedroom.
Fortunately, there are various crib sizes you can pick from to best suit your space allowance. That said, a full-sized crib is still preferable and recommended as it can better accommodate your child as they grow. Having the crib in the room and using it during the nighttime will further reassure the baby that this new “environment” is safe, allowing the baby to further establish the association that the crib is their bed and safe space.
How long you decide to have your baby sleep in the same room as you and your partner is primarily up to you. Most pediatricians recommend at least 6 months in the same room as the parents. After that, they recommend creating and establishing some space between parent and baby. This might be quite difficult for some families, but it will allow for better and uninterrupted sleep due to the odd noise or such for both baby and parents.
The last step will be to move the crib back into the nursery and start the process of letting your baby sleep alone. During this stage, there are two possible and recommended ways you can approach this. The first approach is to place a chair next to the crib after you put the baby down for the night and then keep them company for a few hours after they have properly settled in and fallen asleep.
The trick is then to place the chair further away from the crib each night until you get to the point where you can sit outside, by which point you stop doing the exercise. This will help reassure the baby as they drift off, knowing that you are still nearby. If leaving the baby completely alone is too much for you to do, you can then attempt the second approach: place a mattress next to the crib for you to sleep on for a few days.
There are also many things you can do to make the nursery a happy and peaceful place for your baby. If you recall, we mentioned that it was a good idea to place your baby into the crib during the day for naps to help get them familiar with the experience. The additional benefit of doing this is that your baby will become familiar with the nursery as a safe place for sleeping.
It is also recommended to play some ambient or white noise sounds when putting the baby to sleep, as this will help to relax them. Just remember to keep the volume low. Lastly, dimming the lights and even hanging a piece of clothing (out of reach!) with your smell will also help them to relax and make drifting off to sleep easier.
Another important piece of advice for parents would be to get a baby monitor once you have the baby sleeping on their own. This is one device you will not regret buying, as it will ensure you can always hear if your baby is fussing or needs you from rooms away. It will also help to appease your worrying mind that keeps telling you that the baby made a noise when they didn’t.
That covers all you need to know when you switch from bassinet to crib and how to do the change in a manner that is least stressful and turbulent for the baby. Hopefully, it was of use, and remember to take things one step at a time!
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