Getting babies to sleep is challenging.  Getting them to sleep in their crib is sometimes even more of a challenge.  Many babies will cry as soon as they are placed flat in their crib, but may stay asleep in a more inclined position in a Rock and Play and other similar sleepers.  However, a Rock and Play should not be used as a permanent sleep solution.  If your baby has been sleeping in a Rock and Play, it is time to begin the transition to an approved sleep environment, such as a crib, cradle, or bassinet. Unfortunately, transitioning baby from Rock and Play to crib may be a challenge, depending on your baby and their preferences and personality.

For some tips and guidance to help you through this process, keep reading the rest of this post.

Transitioning Baby from Rock and Play to Their Crib

The safest way for a baby to sleep is flat on their back in a crib, bassinet, or cradle.  Recently Rock and Plays have been recalled due to safety concerns and the unfortunate death of some infants.  Moving baby from Rock N Play to crib as soon as possible is very important.

The National Health Service has outlined a number of baby sleep guidelines designed to help your child sleep safely.  One of the first guidelines is to have babies sleep on their back in a crib or cot.

How do I transition my baby from Rock N Play to crib

Now that you know the importance of discontinuing the use of the Rock and Play, you are probably asking, “How do I transition my baby from Rock N Play to crib?”

Unfortunately, there is no one right answer to this question, and the transition may not be easy.

However, moving your baby out of the Rock and Play and to a safe sleep space is necessary.  Prepare yourself for a few rough nights and be patient.  It may take a while, but after your baby learns to sleep in their crib, you’ll also be able to rest easier knowing that they are sleeping in a safe environment.

It is also important to note that you shouldn’t replace one unsafe sleep solution (the Rock N Play) with something else that is also unsafe.  Resist the urge to bring a fussy baby down to sleep with you in a recliner or to lay them on your chest in the bed to sleep.  Neither of these options are safe for babies and can also pose an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Have the baby sleep in your room

Having your baby sleep in a bassinet, cradle, or crib in your bedroom for the first six to 12 months of their life is recommended by health experts.  This will keep your baby nearby and allow you to monitor their breathing more closely and reduce the risk of SIDS.

Having your baby in your room will also make it easier to soothe them if they are fussy during the transition from the Rock and Play.

Pick up your child

If your baby begins to cry, pick them up to soothe them.  Try rocking them to get them to sleep.  Once they have fallen asleep, continue holding them for about 20 minutes.

This will allow them to get into a deeper sleep and will make it less likely that they’ll wake up once you place them on their back in the crib or bassinet.

Swaddle your baby

Another thing that can really help babies younger than two months to sleep is to swaddle them.

Swaddling helps babies feel like they are back in the womb where they were cradled up tight.  It helps prevent a baby’s startle reflex, which is very strong during the first few months, from waking them up in their sleep.  Many babies love being swaddled and will sleep much more soundly.

However, once your baby starts rolling over, or by the time they are about two months, you should stop swaddling.  If a baby rolls over in their sleep when swaddled, they will likely be unable to roll back to their back and could suffocate.

White noise

Investing in a white noise machine may also help with the crib transition.

A white noise machine can block out other sounds in the house that may wake up a sleeping baby.  Babies are also used to sleeping in the womb, where they can hear their mother’s heartbeat and lots of other muffled sounds.  A white noise machine helps to mimic these sounds, which will help babies feel safe, secure, and ready to sleep.

Before you begin transitioning baby from Rock and Play to crib, check and make sure that you have a baby first aid kit handy.  This way you’ll be prepared to deal with any unexpected injuries!

Transitioning Baby from Bassinet  to Their Crib

If your baby has been sleeping in a bassinet, or you transition them from their Rock and Play to a bassinet, the next step will be getting your baby to sleep independently in their crib.

A bassinet is a great place for babies younger than four or six months to sleep.  Bassinets are small and fit conveniently in most parents bedrooms, allowing the baby to be close by, as is recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS.

However, babies will outgrow their bassinet by the age of six months, if not earlier.  Many babies simply become too long to fit comfortably in their bassinet by this age, or they may have reached the maximum weight allowed by the bassinet.

Additionally, once a baby has learned to roll over or sit up, a bassinet is no longer a safe sleep space for them.  Babies could be injured if they roll into the sides of the bassinet or pull themselves up and fall out.

Because of these reasons, you should have your plan in place to transition baby to crib.  This way, once your little one is starting to show signs that they are about to outgrow their bassinet, you can begin to make the change.

One of the best things you can do well in advance of transitioning baby from bassinet to crib for nighttime sleep is to have your baby start taking some naps in their crib during the day.  This will help them get used to what it feels like to sleep in their crib and can make the nighttime transition easier when the time comes.

Try to keep to the same routine before placing your baby in their crib.  If they are used to being held and rocked after their last feeding, maintain this.  Making too many changes at the same time could make the transition more difficult.

Transitioning Baby from Co-Sleeping to Their Crib

Some parents choose to co-sleep with their baby during the first few months.  For many parents, this is the only solution they can find that will allow them to get some sleep themselves while keeping up with the number of times a newborn needs to eat overnight.  If you’re starting to wonder, “Does co sleeping make baby clingy” or are just ready for your baby to sleep in their own space, there are a few things you can do to make the move to their crib easier.

If your baby is still under two months old and hasn’t rolled over yet, swaddling them before placing them in the crib can make a big difference.  As we mentioned above, swaddling helps babies feel safe and secure, the same way they feel when they’re sleeping in your arms.  It can also prevent their strong startle reflex from waking them up shortly after you successfully get them to sleep in their crib.

Many babies that won’t sleep unless they’re being held also enjoy the warm feeling of snuggling in close and wake up when they are put down on the cold sheets in their crib.  One thing you can try to prevent this cold shock from waking up your baby is to warm up their sheets a little bit.  Before you’re ready to place your baby in their crib, place a heating pad on the mattress for a few minutes.  Be sure to remove the heating pad and make sure the sheets are warm, not hot, and then place your baby on their back in the crib.

Babies are very in-tuned to smells and associate the smell of their parents with safety and comfort.  When they are away from these smells, they may be less inclined to sleep peacefully.  One thing you can try is to hold your baby’s crib sheets close to you, or lay on their sheets in your bed for a while before placing them on your baby’s mattress.  This will transfer your scent to the sheets and may help with transferring baby to crib.

Transitioning Baby to their Own Room

After your baby is at least six months old, you may be ready to transfer them to their own room.  Many of the tips above can help with making this transition, such as continuing the use of white noise or using a heating pad to pre-warm their sheets.

If you haven’t started using your baby’s crib in their room for daytime naps, we recommend you start that as soon as possible.  Have your baby take naps in their room for a few weeks before trying to make the transition for nighttime sleep in their own room.

If your baby has been sleeping in their crib in your room overnight already, it will likely make the transition to sleeping in their own room a little easier.  However, if your baby is still sleeping in a bassinet, cradle or something else at night, you’ll still be able to make the transition, just plan for a few extra steps.

If your baby is sleeping in a bassinet, cradle, Pack n Play in your room, try having them sleep in that item in their bedroom for a few nights.  This will help them get used to a new room without changing where they are sleeping at the same time.  Once your baby seems to have adjusted to sleeping in their own room, start putting them to sleep in their crib instead of their bassinet, Pack n Play, or cradle.

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is very important in helping babies develop healthy sleep habits and helping them get to sleep with less difficulty.  When you use a consistent bedtime routine, your baby will start to associate the different components of the routine with bedtime and sleep, which will make it easier for you to put them to bed.

Every family is different, so create a routine that works for you.  Some things you may want to consider adding to your bedtime routine include a warm bath, reading a story together, dimming the lights for quiet playtime, or listening to quiet music.

If your baby seems to have a hard time making the transition to sleeping in their own room, you may want to consider trying sleep training.  It is best to wait until a baby is at least four months old to try sleep training, but once they are this age, sleep training can make a big difference in helping your little one get the sleep they need.

Transitioning Baby to a Bed

After reading everything above, your next question may be “When to transition baby to toddler bed?”  The answer to this will be different for every child.  There are a few signs you should look for that will let you know that it is time to transition your toddler out of their crib into a toddler bed.  They may include:

  • Climbing out of their crib
  • Asking to sleep in a real bed
  • Getting too big to sleep comfortably in their crib
  • Starting to have a negative opinion about their crib

If you believe your child is ready to make the move to their toddler bed, you may be feeling some anxiety.  A crib not only provides a sense of security for our little ones, but it also gives us as parents some peace of mind.  We know that our toddlers are confined between the four walls of their crib and won’t be able to get into any trouble or injure themselves while we are sleeping in the other room.  Once they’re out of the crib, it can be a bit nerve-wracking as a parent.

To keep your toddler safe in their room you should baby-proof their entire room before you make the transition to a toddler bed.  Make sure all of the furniture is mounted to the wall so they aren’t able to accidentally pull it down if they try to climb on it.  Don’t leave anything on their shelves or in their drawers that could be a potential safety hazard or that you wouldn’t want to see destroyed.  If there are blinds or curtains in the room, make sure there are no long cords that could pose a strangulation risk.

Before setting up their toddler bed, get your little one excited about having their own bed.  Let them help pick out some new sheets and a quilt for their bed.  Getting them excited should help make the transition easier.

Once you’re ready to set up their new bed, stick with your normal bedtime routine.  Keeping things consistent will help them adjust to their new sleep space.  You may want to consider putting a gate up in their doorway or using a child-proof locking device to keep them from being able to access other rooms in the house.  This is important as it will prevent accidental injuries when you are sleeping.

Transitioning Baby from Rock and Play to Crib: FAQs

Is it OK to let my baby play in his crib?

While playing in the crib isn’t necessarily bad for your baby, you may want to avoid giving them too much play time there.  You want your baby to associate their crib with being tired and going to sleep.  Giving them too much play time in it could have the opposite effect and may make it more challenging to get them to go to sleep when you want them to.

Is it safe for baby to sleep in Pack n Play every night?

Yes, Pack n Plays and other similar baby play yards are considered safe sleep spaces.  They are designed to meet high safety standards for baby sleep.  These sleep spaces have mesh sides that allow plenty of air to circulate while a baby sleeps.  They also have a firm and thin mattress which meets safety measures designed to reduce the risk of SIDS.  As with any other sleep space, you should not give babies pillows or blankets in a Pack n Play.  Babies should be put to bed on their back and nothing else should be in the Pack n Play with them.

Transitioning Baby from Rock and Play to Crib: Final Thoughts

Getting a baby to sleep in a safe and approved space, such as their crib, is not always easy.

If you are using a Rock and Play, we hope you have learned some helpful tips to help with transitioning from Rock n Play to crib.  Knowing that you are doing what is in the best interest of your baby and will help keep them safe should also help make the transition a little easier for you.

Always be prepared with fun plasters for any tiny mishaps.

If you are looking for more information about sleep for infants and babies or adjusting to everything that is involved with caring for a newborn, this article from the National Health Service on baby sleep offers a lot of great advice and tips.