You’ve rocked your baby until their eyes closed. Just as you go to lay them down on their mattress, their little eyes open and they start to cry. You sigh since you thought they were asleep, and get to work on getting them calm so you can try again.
Every parent has been there. It’s hard to transition a baby from your arms to a crib, but it can be done! You just need a few pointers, and the little one will stay asleep when you lay them down. Check out our top tips and tricks for how to transition a baby to the crib without waking them up.
Create a nap or bedtime routine.
If you haven’t already, you should create a routine for naptime and bedtime. Babies love predictability, and when they know what’s coming (even if they aren’t super aware), it makes the transition easier. Help your baby relax with a warm bath, massage lotion into their skin, read a book, wrap them in a custom baby swaddle, then dim the lights as you rock them and sing. When you perform this ritual over and over, your baby will get used to it and know it’s time to relax and get ready for sleep.
Check for deep breathing.
You don’t want to lay your baby down too early because they will wake up. The deeper the sleep is, the more likely it is they will stay asleep. Once you’ve held your baby for a few minutes, you’ll probably start to notice their breathing change. When they have moved past a light sleep, their breathing will deepen. Some experts recommend lifting their arm, and if it falls back down to their side quickly, it means they are in a deep sleep. If their arm stiffens, they aren’t in a deep sleep yet and might stir if you try to lay them down.
Hold the baby away from your body.
When you’re certain your baby is in a deep enough sleep, it’s time to get ready to transition baby to the crib. You want to take your time with these next few steps, because rushing through them could cause your baby to wake up. Some babies wake up because of the sudden loss of body heat. To prevent them from waking up, you should slowly move your baby away from your body. Support their head and neck with one hand and their bottom with the other hand, holding them slightly away from you.
Hold your baby over the side of the crib.
As you move your baby away from you, it is a good idea to hold them over the side of the crib. Since you want to slow down and ensure your baby stays asleep, holding them over the crib gives you another chance to see if they are truly in a deep sleep and stay asleep up to this point. By holding your baby over the crib, this puts your body in the perfect position to lay them down on the mattress.
Move slowly as you lay the baby down.
When thinking about how to transition a baby to the crib, some parents rush through the process and lay them down as quickly as possible. If you want your baby to stay asleep, moving slowly and gently as you lay them down onto the mattress is key. Some parents find it beneficial to lay baby’s bottom down first and then move their hand from under the head, and others remove both hands at the same time. It may take a few tries to find the right technique for you!
Pat your baby gently if he or she startles.
If your baby startles or opens their eyes as you just move your hands, patting them might help them settle. Sometimes it is a reflex and they still are asleep even though they look away, so patting their stomach or bottom will help them fall back into a deep sleep or keep them asleep.
Now you have an idea of how to transition a baby to a crib without waking them up! While these tips aren’t foolproof, we hope they help with naptime and bedtime to make it easier for your tired little one to get some rest. If you aren’t doing it already, find out why babies like to be swaddled and how it may help them stay asleep!