Transitioning from a bassinet: How and when to move your baby to a crib

Wondering when to move your baby to a crib? Here's how to tell if she's ready, and how to get your baby to actually sleep in her crib.

baby sleeping in a crib

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At not quite three months, baby Brody was already busting out of his bassinet, says Brantford, Ont., mom Stephanie Dailey. “He was bumping into the sides and waking himself up,” she says.

Shirley Park, a mom of two in Winnipeg, had the same experience at that age with her daughters, Alexandria, now four, and Seraphina, two. “Both of my girls are really tall, so by about three months they were growing out of the bassinet and had to be transitioned to the crib,” she says.

Parents of bigger-than-average babies tend to ponder the move to a crib first, says Michelle Ponti, a paediatrician in London, Ont. “But even when baby gets too big for his bassinet, it’s best to keep him close to you, in a safety-approved crib,” she says. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends little ones sleep in the same room as their parents until six months to promote nighttime breastfeeding and reduce the risk of SIDS by having mom and dad close by during the night, so you’re more easily alerted to any problems with your baby.

Not every master bedroom is spacious enough to easily accommodate a crib, though, which can complicate things. “Sometimes parents put a mattress on the floor in the nursery for themselves as a transitional step, or they can make the crib fit in their room by rearranging or removing some of the furniture,” says Ponti. Park says they lucked out: “All I had to do was move my nightstand and the crib fit between my side of the bed and the wall.” This allowed each of her kids to stay beside mom until the six-month mark.

When to move baby to crib

Once your baby reaches six months, you don’t have to kick her out on her own right away, though. Even if she’s still in a bassinet, if she’s not sitting up or rolling over yet, she’s safe to stay there a little longer. You should also consider how well you’re all snoozing in the same room. “If things are going smoothly and everyone is sleeping there’s no rush,” says Ponti. There’s also no point pushing the transition if you’re about to go away on a family vacation, are introducing a new caregiver or making any other changes to the routine, since babies do better with one big change at a time. But, if you’re feeling cramped because you squeezed the crib into your bedroom, or baby has yet to fall into longer stretches of sleep at night, the move might be what you all need. “Sometimes it helps everybody sleep better because you’re not playing off each other’s movements and noises through the night,” says Ponti.

How to make the transition to a crib easier

When Dailey moved Brody to his own room (a little ahead of schedule, but with the blessing of her doctor) she worked up to it for about a week, consistently using the crib for nap times, until she felt ready to leave him overnight, too. “I still barely slept the first night,” she says. “It was definitely more of an adjustment for me than for him.”

To make the transition easier for babies and parents, Ponti suggests creating a comfortable place to rest in the nursery during nighttime feedings. A cushy glider or small cot will do the trick. White noise, nightlights to guide the way and a baby monitor are other tools that can help bridge the gap between the bedrooms. If you’ve been swaddling your baby, you’re likely transitioning away from that at this time: a sleep sack is a great option to keep your baby warm but safe from loose blankets. To get your babe used to his crib, you could also do tummy time there during the day.

To ease her fears of leaving Brody alone, Dailey used a video monitor to keep tabs on him. Park swears by them, too: “It gave me so much peace of mind to still be able to see and hear my baby, even though she wasn’t right next to me anymore,” she says. For Daily, it took about two weeks for everyone to get used to the new arrangement. But now they’re all sleeping soundly.

Did you know?

With apps like Cloud Baby Monitor and Dormi you can turn tablets and phones into video baby monitors. You’ll need two, so this is a great use for that old one you’ve got lying around. Just download the app on both devices and make sure you’ve got a secure WiFi connection. Leave one device in the room–out of reach–with your baby, and take one with you.

Read more:
How to move your baby to the crib without waking him up
Why won’t my baby sleep
6 ways to help your baby sleep through the night

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