Sleep Training: Making The Crib Transition
Friday, April 8, 2016
When we were planning out when to make the switch, I felt like the rock'n play was my nemesis. I almost wished we had never put her in it and felt like the transition would have been so much easier if we had started sooner. But there was really no sense in getting frustrated in something I couldn't change. So we set a date to officially make the transition and stuck to it. We chose a time that we both had a few days off of work in case she didn't sleep much and took turns staying up. Harper was just about 6 months when we officially moved her into her crib, and while everything I read said the transition would go smoother if we started earlier, this was when it worked out best for us.
The first few nights were tough, mainly the first day or two. We didn't stick to one specific method, but followed a few specific routines every night. The first thing we did was to set a bedtime routine. We start the bedtime process between 6:30 and 7 each evening. That routine consists of a bath, getting her in her sleeper, feeding her a bottle, reading a book, and then turning on her white noise machine and turning off the lights and putting her in bed. We stay in the room, sitting across the room from her crib until she's asleep each night, and still do that nightly. I feel like it helps her know we are still there with her and also gives us a few minutes to just sit and be. As soon as we are done putting her to bed it's back to doing dishes or cleaning up the house or getting a workout in and preparing for the next day, so it's nice to have some time to just sit in her room with her.
Before transitioning her to her crib, she had only ever slept in her rock'n play. Her first couple nights at home initially were in the newborn sleeper of her pack and play, but the rest of the time was in her rock'n play. We'd never let her sleep in our bed with us and never on us if we weren't awake. I think both of these things really helped make the transition easier. Once we were ready to start moving her in to her own room, we had her sleep in her rock'n play in her room for about a month. This way she was still in the same bed, but it gave her time to get used to sleeping in her room.
Since we were completely changing her environment, we tried to also create a consistent one in her room. We use a sound machine to help create some white noise and drown out some of the noise that we might make once she goes to bed. We also wanted to create some consistency from what she was used to because we always have white noise in our room and she had been sleeping with that near her since she came home. In an effort to mimic the rock'n play some, we added a wedge to her crib to keep her a little elevated and used a rolled up towel to help keep her in one spot in her crib. This only lasted a couple weeks and we first removed the towel and then the wedge, both she didn't really seem to need.
Her first night was the hardest. We had read a lot of different thoughts on what to do in this situation and ended up deciding to not pick her up if she cried once putting her in her crib. We would put our hand on her belly or her back to soothe her, but wanted her to learn it was okay to sleep in her crib and that we were close by. We also choose a saying to say to her every night before bed and that we would say each time we went in if she was crying. We decided on "We love you Harper, we're right outside". We would only let her cry for five minutes before we would go back in, each time repeating the same phrase. I know this is the part that can be controversial, and I'm not saying this is better than any other technique, it's just what worked for us. Never did she cry so hard or get so upset that she couldn't calm herself down, she would just cry and fuss because she was tired and because she wasn't used to her bed. After the first night or two, she would take a few minutes to settle in and then be fine the rest of the night. And I honestly think it was harder for us (or maybe just me) to hear her cry than it was for her.
Looking back now a few months after making the transition, it really doesn't seem that tough and it's hard to remember what those first few tough nights were like. In the thick of it all it seemed so tough and like she was never going to get used to it, but that really passed fairly quickly. Now she goes down fairly easily, although she's been fighting her nap time, but she typically sleeps all night in her crib. We have gotten our evenings and room back and can finally do more than go to sleep or read a book once she's in bed. Not only has it been a good transition for her but it's been a good one for us too. Having our room back and the ability to talk or watch a tv show before bed together has been so nice. I feel like we have some adult time back in our lives, and that has been a huge blessing.
As a new parent, I've really learned that it's important to do what's best for you and your child. Do some research, talk to others who have been there, but in the end, listen to your instincts!
Have you found anything specific that helped with your crib transition?