The Crib Transfer

The Crib Transfer

How do you put a sleeping baby into the crib? It tends to work better if your little one is younger—as they get heavier, it can be hard to lower them slowly. A reminder that if your little one is less than 4 months, you will want to wait for at least 20 minutes until you see all of the movements stop and they are in a deep sleep. 

The transfer to the crib can be really easy for some little ones and more challenging with others. The feeling of falling or the cold hard mattress (after being in arms) can wake up the best little sleepers. They are used to the warmth of your body, the sound of your heartbeat, and the proprioceptive input of being in your arms, and then we are putting them down on something that is the complete opposite.

 I would suggest the following:

Review the Moving Baby Out of the Bassinet or Family Bed section to prepare for moving your little one into the crib.

Warm the surface you will put them down on with a warm towel (out of the dryer) or warm water bottle—always remove these items before you place the baby down.

Sleep on the crib sheets for a few nights so that their sleep space will smell like you (really helpful from an attachment perspective).Transfer bum down first, then lay your little one down flat and very slowly.

Consider wrapping your little one across your stomach, leaning over the crib, and placing them down on their side. Take your hands and apply a slight amount of pressure (so they still feel like they are in arms), wait a minute or two, then slowly roll them over onto their back.

 If your little one does not go in the crib asleep, this is where you will have to make the decision about how you want to best support your baby or toddler with sleep. Oftentimes, I will see families who transfer their baby into the crib asleep, and then they wake up, so the parent starts the whole process of bedtime again, only to have them wake up again at the next transfer. This can be exhausting. 

A reminder to make sure that your little one is not overtired at bedtime, they are not hungry, and they are tired enough.

If your baby is waking up soon after being transferred into the crib, you have a few options:

  1. Try a floor bed or try supporting your child to sleep on a mattress next to you. This is my favourite way as you can offer lots of cuddles and snuggles. Once they fall asleep, you can then transfer them back into the crib. If your little one tries to climb all over you and isn’t sleeping, make sure that they are tired enough, they have had enough physical activity, that the environment is conducive to sleep. You can also use your body as a barrier, lifting it up slightly when they try to crawl over you.
  • If your little one pulls up to a stand, you can try hugging them over the side of the crib and supporting their emotions until they decide to lie down. This can be really difficult for parents and something that will involve a lot of tears. But it is critical that you are tuned in to your little one, you are providing lots of love and support, and you are acting in the moment rather than focused on the end goal. Remember that you need to let your intuition and your baby drive the process—hold, snuggle, love, and cuddle them.
  • If you have a really young baby, and you are really flexible (ha-ha!), you can try hugging your baby flat on the mattress over the side of the mattress while they are flat on the mattress until they fall asleep.