Moving from a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper to the Crib

Posted by in No-Cry Sleep

Many babies fall asleep (and stay asleep) much more easily in a bed that is gently moving rather than a still crib surface. But one of the most popular moving options, the Rock ‘n Play, has been recalled and is deemed unsafe for sleep. If you are one of the parents who is in a panic since the recall of this sleeper, help is here. The following ideas can guide you as you transition your baby to a safer sleeping place.

Find a Safe and Movable Cradle Alternative

If your baby is a newborn, check out alternate cradles that add rocking or swaying movement. Look for one that allows your baby to lay flat on their back, as they would on a crib mattress. Make sure the base is stable and that it is rated for solitary sleep situations.

Sleepy instead of Sleeping

An important key to successful stationary crib-naps is to help your baby become comfortable when put into bed sleepy – instead of fully limp-asleep. Believe it or not, with practice your baby can fall asleep this way! If you like the sound of this idea, there is no harm or risk, and no tears are involved in giving it a try. The following tips can help get you there.

Have Practice Sessions

Several times a day, have a short, relaxed playtime with baby in the crib with you nearby to provide entertainment – singing, talking, or showing toys. These sessions can help build a positive association with the bed that will carry over to sleepy time.

Location, Location, Location

When you first start having your baby sleep in a new crib, position it in exactly the same place where your sleeper was situated. Being able to see the same view from their sleeping place can foster a feeling of familiarity. You can always move the crib once your baby is sleeping well there.

Make Your Baby Comfortable

Babies are as different from each other as we adults are, and you’ll learn to understand your own baby’s preferences over time. Here are a few ideas for making your baby comfortable enough to fall asleep unaided. Experiment with them, and you’ll soon discover which are best for your little one.

Cozy Cradle, Sleepy Place

It can help to set up a welcoming sleep place to aid with falling asleep. Make sure your baby’s mattress is comfortable, as many that come included in a cradle or bassinet are hard and stiff. Use soft sheets, such as fleece or flannel (always use bedding made to fit your baby’s exact mattress size) and keep the room dark.

Add Some Gentle White Noise

Keep your baby’s room quiet except for white noise. Try a machine that provides the sound of ocean waves or rainfall. Look for one that doesn’t turn off automatically so that you can leave it on all night at a low volume if this helps your baby to sleep.

Smaller Space

Many babies feel overwhelmed in a big crib. Your baby may find a smaller cradle or bassinet more to their liking. (Make sure that the cradle is labeled as safe for unattended sleep, and that your baby is within the weight range on the instructions.) Even a toddler can benefit from this idea, so create a small nap-nook or fort. Ready-made toddler beds with tents can make a nice daytime sleep spot.

Good Smells

A baby’s sense of smell is more defined than that of an adult. Research shows that a baby can recognize their own mother or father by smell. If you have a small stuffed animal or baby blanket, you can tuck it in your shirt for a few hours, and then place it beside the cradle while baby sleeps. (Follow all safety precautions, which include not placing this object directly in bed with a newborn.)

A Warm Bed

When a sleepy baby is placed on cold sheets, they can be jarred awake. While you are feeding your baby, you can warm the sleeping spot with a wrapped hot water bottle or a towel fresh from the dryer. Remove the warmer from the crib before you lay your baby down, and always run your arm slowly over the area to make sure it’s not too hot.

Perfect Timing

Pay close attention to your baby’s ‘happily awake span.’ Newborns can only stay awake an hour or two at a time. A three-month-old might be able to last three hours. By the first birthday that time lengthens to as much as five hours, but no longer. A little one who is awake for too long a stretch can get a second-wind and refuse sleep.

Watch the clock for approximate sleep time and observe your baby for signs of tiredness. Make sure baby is well-fed and has a dry diaper, dim the lights, turn on the white noise and place your baby gently into bed.

By following these ideas, you can gradually and lovingly help your baby learn how to fall asleep in the crib. And you can do this without tears (yours or theirs).

These tips are from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.