You never forget the day you bring your first baby home from the hospital. Now you’re on your own without nurses to help you out, and you’ve got to get used to having your baby in your home. I remember being so excited to get out of that hospital and return to the relative-normalcy of our apartment in China.
I showed our eldest around, not that she noticed, but I felt I had to try to make her feel at home. I guess I was boring or she was just tired because she fell asleep. So, I took her into her room and put her in the crib. No sooner than I walked out of the room, she began crying. I went and picked her up, and the crying stopped.
I put her back in the crib again. Waaaaa! This kept going on and on. My husband and I decided that maybe she didn’t want to be so far from us, even though our home was tiny (just two small bedrooms and one bathroom). So he and his father moved the crib into our bedroom. Now I could set her down in the crib, and she didn’t cry.
Ah, but this kid.
She didn’t always want to be in the crib. She wanted to be with me. So we let her share the bed. I’ve talked about co-sleeping before in another post and ideal recommendations for doing it for maximum safety. But having your baby in your room for a while is quite a good thing.
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How Long is too Long Though?
You tell me. I had two very different experiences. With my first, I had to get her used to her room because we were pregnant with my second. She was three at the time. I first got her used to sleeping in her room and then weaned her. I let her cry it out, and I wasn’t happy about that at all. Looking back, I don’t think that was the best course of action.
With my second daughter, we have only recently gotten her to stay in her room. She willingly goes to sleep in there, however, at some point in the night, she stealthily creeps into our room, climbs between us and goes to sleep.
Believe me; this is progress because she used to come crying down the hall, sounding more like a fire alarm than a small child. Then she’d kick us and cry because she couldn’t fall asleep. Now waking up to find her snuggled up next to me isn’t such a bad thing.
My husband complains he wants his bed back, but he can’t stay mad at her either. She’s our last one, and we know we’ll blink and she’ll be too big to want to snuggle.
When Should I Adjust Baby to Their Room?
See? I’m no perfect mom. Not by a longshot. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should keep your baby in your room (and follow safe sleep guides) for at least the first six months, though ideally, up to one year is best. According to Science News, babies that sleep in their rooms before they hit their first birthday sleep longer.
While those are the recommendations, experts in the field will also tell you that what is best is what works for your family. We all have our personalities and babies are no exception to that. Some babies will be cool with you moving them into their room after a few months while others will never want to leave.
What you need to consider is if the lack of sleep is more important at this stage. For me with my youngest, rest was a more significant concern of mine than forcing her to do something she didn’t want to do. She’s my stage-5 clinger and has an entirely different personality from her sister. I find that when I back off and let her go at her own pace, she comes running right past my expectations.
Certified Sleep Consultant Pam Edwards discusses how babies can be completely different with some of them being easy and others being virtually impossible to get to sleep. I find it refreshing when I look up expert advice and opinions and see that they fall in line with what I think. It makes me feel less crazy.
How Do I Get My Baby to Stop Co-Sleeping?
First, you should determine if your toddler is indeed ready (or ready-ish) to begin the transition to their room. For my first, it helped us to try to move her to the crib in our room after nursing her. This way, she got used to sleeping in her space.
If you want to know how to get your baby to sleep in her room without crying it out, you’re going to have to be prepared to give up some sleep.
Like I said before, sometimes everyone getting the sleep they need is more critical than
I made my husband check on her. We had a baby monitor, but because we were in China, we only had one with audio and no video. I wanted to make sure she was still alive. And yes, she was. Sound asleep, slightly snoring, and utterly adorable.
If I had it to do again, I’d never have done that to her though. Then yet, I have my youngest who still climbs in our bed. Despite this though, I like the way I handled it with her better.
What I’d do was I’d hold her in my lap in her room and tell her another story, a story all about her. Then I’d sing her some songs until she seemed sleepier. I’d lay her on her bed and gently pat her back while still singing. Once she was out, I’d leave the room.
My method was to put her at ease which worked for her personality.
During the day, I’d also make sure to spend time with her in her room. When I couldn’t, I’d send her sister in there to play. I even bribed her a couple of dollars, telling her to act like her sister’s room was cooler than hers. My youngest takes time to adjust to things. She was the same way with school. So going at her pace has helped our family to get more sleep overall.
I recommend you find your pace with your child. Each of your children could be different, like mine. Not just for sleep but with other things too. So be prepared that what worked like a charm won’t work at all for the other one. Fair warning!
If your baby is under 12 months and you want to move her, make sure your pediatrician is on board with it in terms of her growth. If you’re going to move baby sooner, make sure she can roll over on her own. For any breastfeeding babies, make sure you have a plan of action to get to them for nighttime feeding. It may be easier to simply do what we did for our first and keep her in a crib in your room.
How to Move Your Baby into Their Room?
If you haven’t already, your baby’s room should be set up for a safe sleeping experience. Your crib should be safe and defect-free. It should feature a firm mattress that fits tightly into the cradle. That mattress should only be covered with a fitted sheet. Nothing else should ever be in your baby’s crib – no bumpers, blankets, or toys.
Want to use those sweet baby shower items?
Consider putting blankets on a chair for décor, fancy pillows on a window seat, and baby toys up on a shelf. Baby’s safety comes first. Crib bumpers are a tragedy because they were designed with the best intentions; however, they are completely unsafe. Don’t use them!
Once you’re sure space is safe as can be, here’s what to do:
- Spend time with the baby in her room
When you do tummy time, read, or anything else with your baby, make that time in her place. Familiarity brings comfort to children and babies.
- Put her down for naps there too
Before you make the change to overnight, have your baby sleep in her crib for all naps. Ideally, this is perfect in theory. This worked for most of my friends. For me, neither of my children ever wanted to nap anywhere except next to me. On the plus side, I got a nap out of the deal.
Eventually, my eldest would nap on the sofa after preschool. And my youngest? She never wanted naps after the age of 2. She’d only fall asleep in the car when we were running errands.
- Try white noise
For both of my daughters, white noise was a huge factor in getting them to go to sleep without me having to sit in the dark, waiting for the moment I could creep away. Sometime after we moved to America, my eldest didn’t seem to need white noise anymore. I got her a princess nightlight and a lava lamp, and she’s delighted.
My youngest though still loves that white noise. I have to be honest…I love the white noise too. As someone with a husband who snores so loudly they can probably hear him back in China, I wear earplugs, and I STILL hear him. When my youngest was fully sleeping in our room, I had the white noise going and, it would drown him out a bit.
- Use a baby monitor
I might have had only an audio one, but a baby monitor is one of the best tools ever. The newer ones have video and night vision. You can see everything that’s going on and even respond via two-way radio. They’re also useful into toddlerhood. Get one if you don’t have one.
The larger the house, the more critical it is to have one. When we lived in China, our home was small, but our eldest’s room was across the apartment. With my earplugs, it was hard to hear her sometimes. So we used the baby monitor.
Once in America, it was easy to hear my youngest. She slept in a crib in our room because we had nowhere else to put her. I didn’t need a baby monitor there. I left it at my parents’ house for when we visited because their house is so big, I could never have heard her.
- Get into a routine
Sleep routines are so important. Chances are, you have one in place for your baby that includes a bath and story time. But slowly changing the location to your baby’s room for these things is a great way to adjust them to this new routine.
- Try, try again
If you do try and can’t get it to work as in my situation, experts like Edwards explains that this is perfectly normal. Don’t ever force it or you’ll wind up with a crying-it-out case. Just move your baby back to your room and try again in a month.
If your kids are older, like my youngest, and you’re still having trouble, slow it down. Make the room fun again, the kind of place they like to be when the lights are on. Spend time with them in there playing and reading. Let them pick new decorations they want. And above all, be patient, loving, and kind.
That’s the best way to get through most things in the world of parenting.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.