As a new mom-to be, I would day dream this idealistic, movie scene nursery room with beautiful flowing curtains and a nice rocking chair….birds chirping, sun shining. And, in the midst of this glorious setting was my baby. Peacefully sleeping in her beautiful crib. And there I was, watching her sleep with my hair in a perfect bun, freshly showered and rested.
*cue record scratch and cut scene to day one with a baby at home
All that day dreaming wasn’t exactly realistic. The scene was more like this: frazzled new mom with disheveled hair, puffy eyes from lack of sleep, standing in the middle of the living room at 4 a.m. with a crying baby wondering how the heck I got there, and BTW, where’s my pants? Huh? Oh, and that crib? Collecting dust. Not a baby to be found anywhere near it. In fact, we went into that nursery but maybe once a day in the beginning!
Before I had kids, I swore a million times around that I would never co-sleep. But on night one, little miss wouldn’t go to sleep in her bassinet. She would just cry and cry. As soon as I laid her down next to me, she fell fast asleep. And that was that, we had a family bed. But, there came a point where that was no longer working for the family. So in this post, I wanted to share with you how I moved my baby from our room to her own crib in her room, without using the cry it out method, a.k.a CIO. It’s just not something I was interested in doing, so if that’s how you feel, and are looking for ideas, maybe this will help.
I’ll toss in here, that I am no baby expert. I have one toddler, 14 months old. I am an expert in my own home, and that’s all I intend to be. I’m not telling you this will work for you, but I’m telling you it worked for us! I felt it was worth sharing, just in case anyone out there is at their wits end.
So here we go. When we thought about moving the little one out of our bed and room, it was because none of us were getting good sleep anymore. She would wake and be curious and want to play, and then we would all be up and it was sort of a circus. And I work a full time job, I was in bad shape and needed some rest. Even when we moved her into her bassinet, it was still too distracting for her. She knew we were in the room, so she wanted to be with us. So, when the decision was made, and I felt we were ready, I made a game plan. Strike that, I stuck my kid in the crib thinking all would be good. Instead, screamed her face off upon touch down. Then, I made a plan.
I had to realize something first. She had never been in that crib before, and hardly in that room. What the heck was I thinking putting her down in there and expecting her to be cool with it? She was used to being snugly wrapped next to me or in her small bassinet. The crib is large and open, cold and unfamiliar.
Step 1: Introduce baby to the crib. Make it fun! I did this by putting her in the crib with all the lights on and me standing next to her. I put her in there fully awake and was not expecting sleep from her. I was expecting her to hang out in the crib while I did some general room cleaning, laundry folding etc. To help, I put familiar toys in there with her. And never, ever left the room. She could see me at all times. If she cried, even a little, I immediately took her out. I made up my mind that I did not want her to associate negative feelings with that crib, and I didn’t want her to think that when she cried, I wouldn’t be there to rescue her. If this sounds silly to you, read no further. This may not be the method for you.
We worked on this for about a week, slowly building up time in the crib. At first, she lasted about 2 minutes. But, she got better and better at being in the crib as time went on. After a week was over, she was spending nearly 20 minutes in the crib playing and smiling and laughing. Just keep letting baby get comfortable in the crib, don’t worry about how long it takes.
Step 2: Once baby is cool with the crib, try for a nap. It took us about another week of trying and trying until she finally slept in the crib for more than 15 minutes. I would calm her to a drowsy state, then put her down and walk out of the room. The first time, she screamed her face off once she realized I was gone, and I rushed back in and get her. Remember, no crying in the crib! I’m not a Dr., so I don’t know what you would call that, but my guess is you are building trust by this method. Baby is learning, if I am unhappy or need you, you are there immediately. That’s a sense of security. It takes time to build, so don’t expect this to fall into place in a day or two. We finally got what I felt was a full nap after about a week and a half!
Step 3: Do nothing for two weeks. Yep. Don’t shake this routine, it’s a good one (if it’s working for you). Let two full weeks go by of only napping in the crib, and sleeping in the bassinet, or wherever you have arranged in your room for baby to sleep that is not your bed. Pack and play, bassinet, fancy hammock thing, whatever you got.
Step 4: Begin attempting bed time in the crib. Do this much like the naps. Don’t expect a full nights sleep right out of the gate, but hey! You might get lucky. You never know. Bed time routines are so important, in my opinion. Arrange your bedtime routine to include the crib. Meaning, if you read stories before bed, read them in the room where the crib is, not your room. Stay away from your room as much as you can. Also, set up a night time feeding station for yourself in the room with the crib. If baby wakes up in the middle of the night to eat, try your best not to bring her out of the room. I would nurse/bottle in a rocking chair in her room. The light would never come on, just quiet comfort. Then, I would help her back to sleep. All the way to sleep sometimes, not just drowsy. And lay her down and walk out. If she cried, again I would rescue her and then put her in her bassinet in my room. This took about two weeks to finally have her willing to go to sleep in the crib, and return to the crib after night feedings.
And that was that! 4 steps to get your little one out of your bed, and into their own. As you can see, this isn’t a quick method and requires a little bit of effort. But, all in all, I think it’s a good way to do it if you aren’t interested in CIO. Things to remember:
• It takes practice and patience. If today was a bad day, just try again tomorrow. It’s no biggie. Forcing it or rushing it will only make you both feel bad.
• Make sure hubs (or anyone else in the house) knows what’s up. No crying in the crib! And any other ground rules you may have set.
• Don’t decide to go on a week long vacation in the middle of this. Focus! It’s kind of like potty training. You should probably just figure on being home every night until the crib is successful.
• You don’t have to do it! If you tried and it’s not working, you aren’t happy, or you feel bad about it, then stop. Go back to what makes you comfortable.
• As I mentioned in the beginning, this is simply what worked for me. Tailor this plan to your own needs! You know your baby best.
I hope someone out there will find this helpful! When I was searching for methods on how to get my kid out of my bed and into her crib, I had a hard time finding things that made sense to me. If this is the method you used, let us know. Or, if you tried something else that worked, please share that too!