Making the transition from bassinet to crib
It made sense for Memphis to sleep by our bed in his Pack N' Play (with the bassinet attachment) in the beginning.
It felt like he was always nursing. And if he wasn't, he needed a diaper change. Having the Pack N' Play right there by us with its little changing station attached was super convenient.
I was thinking he'd be there for a while. I mean, the American Academy of Pediatrics says babies should sleep in their parents' bedroom for at least the first 6 months and ideally the first whole year to prevent SIDs.
But then I started reading more. I love that Memphis started sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, and I am determined to keep that going and (fingers crossed!) avoid the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. Sure, the American Academy of Pediatrics says 6-12 months is safest, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily the best. According to a lot of sources, the sooner you transition baby to their own room, the easier the transition is for them. 3-4 months seems to be the deadline before it starts to become an issue.
Every baby and every family is different. Whether you choose to co-sleep for four years or go straight to the nursery on day three, I don't think you're wrong. I'm just sharing what we decided to do and how we decided to do it based partly on research and mostly on what we felt was best for Memphis.
When I first read that babies transition best by 3-4 months, my body clenched. I wasn't ready for him to leave my side. I liked being able to wake up in the night and look over to see my healthy baby, sound asleep. Maybe it's because he was a NICU baby or maybe it's because he's my first (and maybe only), but I am an overprotective mama bear and very much attached to him.
I let it sink in, and then realized that the only reason he was still stationed a mere foot away from me at night was for my own peace of mind. The late night nursing sessions and diaper changes were gone. And Memphis is a big boy who was starting to look a little cramped in the Pack N' Play. His crib is much bigger and its mattress is softer.
So we decided to make the leap. I gave myself a few more days to get more used to the idea of him "moving out" and then on a Monday (why do we always start things on Monday?), we went for it. Here are some of the things we did to help with the transition.
We started moving his bedtime routine to his room before the move
Once we decided to make the move — before actually doing it — we started going through his bedtime routine in his room. We'd change his diaper on his changing table instead of in the Pack N' Play changing setup, lather him up with lotion, put on his pajamas and Dad would read his bedtime story in the nursery. Then we'd move him into our room to sleep. The thought behind this is to get him used to his new routine gradually.
I put him in his crib when he was happy during the day
I wanted to make sure the crib was a happy place. So when he was in a good mood during the day, I would put him in his crib for a couple of minutes. He loves looking up at his mobile as it dances in the sunlight. I was more sure that this was the right move after seeing his reaction to his "big boy crib". He loves it.
We started with naps
On Monday we started with naps. A 1-2 hour nap is easier to manage than a 12-hour sleep. As a side note: I fully intended to start with his first nap of the day but then he fell asleep cuddling with me and I couldn't stand to put him down ... so we started with nap two. Sorry not sorry.
We made it resemble his old sleep space
We used the same white noise, the same sleep sacks (we're transitioning away from the swaddle and have been loving the Woombie Love to Dream and the Zipadee-Zip) and the same smells (lavender in the diffuser).
Magic turtle power
This turtle may look unassuming, but he's a superhero. It was my niece, Tinley's, when she was a baby. My sister-in-law kept it around because it was such a hit with her, and it's definitely a hit with Memphis too. I put this on and it sings "Twinkle Twinkle" while painting light circles on the wall. It calms Memphis down and puts him to sleep. I don't think they make this anymore but I found one similar on Amazon if you think your baby might love it, too.
I monitored him like crazy
I still do. We have a nest cam to watch him. But sometimes, the app crashes. My grandma had a baby monitor that was sound-only she used to use when my grandpa was sick, so I now have that one by the bed. So that's two monitors for one baby that is in a bedroom right next to ours. I hope for Memphis's sake that I loosen the reigns a little before he's a teenager.
We used Taking Cara Babies Program
If you read my post about getting him to sleep through the night, you know I'm kind of a Cara fan girl. And not just because she has an awesome name. :)
When she put out a new program, "Navigating Months 3-4" I was thrilled. Memphis was still sleeping through the night but I want to do everything I can to keep that going! The program is a downloadable book that's less intense than the newborn program (which includes videos) but is also less expensive! It was a great refresher from the newborn program but also included some new tips and helped us understand what Memphis was going through developmentally and how to help him through it. I also purchased the popular book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. I've referenced it some but I like how straightforward and easy-to-digest Cara's information is. If you want an encyclopedia of baby sleep, get Marc's book. If you want something you can read and implement quickly, Cara's your girl.
The transition went well. It took him a little longer than normal to fall asleep for his first nap in his room, but the first night he slept from 8pm - 8am. To be honest, I think he sleeps better in there than he did in our room. Probably because he doesn't have an overprotective mama lurking over him every couple of hours.
As for me, I'm still working on the transition. I wake up and check the nest camera every few hours. I miss having him by me sometimes but I have to admit that it is nice to have our bedroom back. We have a very small room and it was quite cramped in there.
I'm glad we made the transition when we did. I wouldn't have been ready any sooner and I think it was best for him not to wait too long. If you're reading this and you are past the 3-4 month mark and haven't transitioned, I'm sure you'll be just fine. If you're reading this and you transitioned before the 3-4 month mark, I'm sure you're doing great.
Our babies are humans, which means they are unique. It's up to each of us to get to know what's best for them. So take these tips, adapt them, or leave them. It's what worked for us, but you know your baby best. I find it helpful to learn what worked for other mamas, so I hope you can glean something from this!