Many parents start out co-sleeping with their infant, and the transition from parents’ bed to child’s crib isn’t always a smooth one.
Studies show that 50 to 60 percent of parents sleep with their babies. They either bedshare or they use specially designed co-sleepers/bed boxes that sit on or next to the bed.
The baby is within arms reach throughout the night. After your baby passes the newborn phase you might be wondering how to get your one-year-old to sleep in a crib. It is often a very difficult transition for both you and your baby but with perseverance, there are ways to make the change easy and agreeable for your baby so you can both start getting a good night’s sleep.
The Importance of Transitioning
From the time your baby reaches 12 months until 18 months old, he will sleep for approximately 11 hours per night. Typically, at this growth stage, most babies sleep throughout the night. That is why it is extremely important to transition your baby into sleeping in his crib when he or she is around one year old.
10 Ways to Get Your One-Year-Old to Sleep in a Crib
Here are ten methods to help get your baby to sleep in a crib. Every child’s temperament is different, and each parent has their own preferences for dealing with change, so it’s important to know that not every method will work, so test the waters to find what works for your family.
1. Acclimatize your baby to the nursery and the crib. Your baby must feel safe and comfortable in the room where the crib is located. Often spending playtime in the nursery helps alleviate any misgivings your little one might be experiencing. In your baby’s young mind the nursery should be a happy, safe place.
Give your baby the time needed to enjoy the nursery before you push him to sleep alone in the room in his crib. Instead of putting your baby to bed at night in his room, start out with short naps in the crib during the day. Once your baby is napping in the crib every day, then you can transition him into night crib sleeping.
2. Cut down on daytime naps. If your baby is sleeping too much during daytime naps then he may not be sleepy enough to quickly fall asleep in his crib. This will increase his resistance to sleeping in his crib.
Ideally, your baby should take his last nap by 3 pm in the afternoon so he is tired when bedtime arrives. At one year of age, most babies require two to three hours of nap time per day. Longer naps will make your baby resist falling asleep easily in his crib at bedtime.
3. Move the baby’s crib into your room. If your baby has been sleeping in a bassinet or co-sleeper beside your bed then moving the baby’s crib into your room to replace the alternative sleeper might be your best bet to get your baby to readily accept sleeping in the crib.
Once your baby starts sleeping soundly in the crib at night then it is easier to move the crib back into the nursery. Sometimes, your baby won’t even seem to care which room the crib sits in once he starts accepting it as his own personal space and bed.
As you might know, no other bed feels as good your own bed and your baby will feel the same way about his crib once he accepts it as his private sleep space.
4. Create the perfect sleep environment. Sleep aids in the nursery help create the perfect sleep environment for your baby. Nightlights, soothing music and mobiles are all beneficial to help your baby adjust to the nursery and the crib. Studies have found that after your baby reaches four months of age he sleeps better and longer when placed in his own crib.
5. Sleep in the nursery. You might want to pitch a cot beside your baby’s crib in the nursery for a few nights until he starts sleeping in his crib. This way your baby feels secure knowing you are close by. Sleeping alone in his crib isn’t as scary for your baby if you are in the same room with him all night.
6. Make bedtime special. Give your baby a warm bath, sit with him in the nursery, feed him, sing to him, or read a book. Make bedtime a routine that is special. Let your little one feel your warmth and love so he is cocooned in a peace before he drifts off to sleep in his crib.
7. Rock your baby to sleep. Putting an old-fashioned rocker or glider beside the crib is often a perfect way to coax your baby to sleep. Then once he is sound asleep in your arms, you can gently place him into the crib.
8. Let them cry it out. There are two sides of the fence when it comes to letting your baby just cry it out in the crib. Many advocates of the cry it out/self-soothing method say that simply placing your baby into the crib and letting him cry until he falls asleep is the best way to teach him to sleep alone.
They say that the ‘cry it out’ method usually works in as little as three days. However, some parents feel that letting their baby cry is cruel and not the optimum answer.
9. Consider Ferberization. Ferberization is a system that was developed by Dr. Richard Ferber. It is similar to the cry it out method, but when your baby cries you offer reassurance after your baby has cried for a set amount of time.
With this method, you do not pick up your baby or physically reassure him. You only talk to him in a calm voice until he stops crying.
10. Try the no-cry method. With the no-cry method, you will establish a nap and bedtime routine that is soothing and relaxing. When your baby gets drowsy, you will place him in the crib. If your baby cries during the night then you will respond and offer a combination of verbal and physical reassurances to alleviate the crying.
You can monitor your baby’s cries with a baby monitor or if your room is located close to the nursery then you can listen for him to wake during the night. Each time you enter the nursery to soothe your crying baby, you will limit the time you spend with him.
Although using the ‘no-cry’ method will take longer, it is far less traumatic than other methods according to enthusiasts of the technique. It also does not undermine the trust between the baby and the parent, according to Erik Homburger Erikson, an American developmental psychologist, and psychoanalyst.
What the Experts Say
“The transition can be really difficult, and you don’t have to make the switch at nighttime,” according to Melisa E. Moore, Ph.D., a sleep expert and psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who advocates starting your baby out sleeping in his crib at naptime and then transitioning into a nighttime sleep routine.
“There are two schools of thought on the best way to put babies to sleep: the parent-soothing method and the self-soothing method. Both have advantages and possible disadvantages,” according to Dr. William Sears, an American pediatrician and the author or co-author of more than 30 parenting books.
“I always vote against letting a child cry to sleep — that can damage the trust between you, especially when you’re changing a routine that’s gone on for a long time. Since your child has spent most of his night sleep in your bed, he doesn’t view his room as a place to spend the night.It may help to redecorate and create an inviting sleep place… A more inviting room will make it a happier place to sleep,” according to Elizabeth Pantley, the author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution.
In recent years, most pediatricians advocate the importance of babies sleeping in the same room as their parents until they reach 12 months old. With the prevalence of babies remaining in their parent’s rooms until older, many parents will be faced with the dilemma of how to get their 1-year-old to sleep in a crib. However, with a bit of perseverance and patience, your baby will transition to sleeping soundly in his own crib.