We spend ages creating the perfect nursery but the reality is most newborns don’t actually sleep in there for quite a while.
Official guidelines from The Lullaby Trust recommend that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a separate crib or moses basket in the same room as its parents for at least the first 6 months. Sleeping in close proximity means that you can hear if your baby is having a problem and just being near reduces the risk of SIDS. Room sharing is also really convenient; night feeding is often easier when your baby is right next to you as you may not even have to get out of bed.
So having your baby in your room during those early weeks and months is safest and most convenient but there will come a point when you decide that they will transition into the nursery.
This can make for an emotional and challenging time so here are six top tips to ensure a smooth transition:
1. Make sure your baby is familiar with their room before the move
Spend plenty of time in their room in the days before the move. Start doing all nappy changes in their room, get them dressed there and spend plenty of time playing on the floor and reading books together in there too. It is also a good idea to let your baby explore their new bed in the daytime. This all helps to familiarise them before the big move.
2. Start doing the bedtime routine in the nursery
If you haven’t already established a consistent bedtime routine, now is a good time to start. All babies thrive on routine and doing the same things in the same order enables your child to learn to predict what happens next. Start doing your bedtime routine in the nursery a few days before the move but then put them down in the crib in your room as usual.
3. Start with ONE nap a day
Practice having one nap a day in their new room. Choose their easiest nap and talk to them as you are putting them down and let them know that it is a safe place to be.
4. Make the move but take their usual crib with them
On the first night of the transition, keep them in the same crib or moses basket that they were sleeping in in your room. Move it into the nursery along with their bedding, any comforters, night lights and sounds so that as much as possible is familiar. You could even try placing the Moses basket inside the cot and after a few nights, move baby directly into their new cot.
5. Have a sleepover
Another way to ease your baby into sleeping in their own space gently is to go with them. If you have the space you could put up an air bed or spare mattress temporarily in the nursery for a few nights as your little one is adjusting to their new sleep space.
6. Time it right
Don’t make the move if your little one is teething or unwell. If your baby is in discomfort, there’s a good chance their sleep will be disturbed anyway. The last thing you want to do is add to the distress by changing their sleeping environment. Wait until this is over and repeat the familiarisation process before trying again. There is no rush and the timing could be crucial to a smooth transition.
As a qualified baby and child sleep coach I am here to help you if you are struggling with your little one’s sleep. I offer one to one consultations and group workshops and if you would like to find out more, please book a free 15 min discovery call.