When to move your baby out of the bassinetUpdated Oct 10, 2022
Let’s be real: you’ll face a lot of transitions as a parent and some will be more challenging than others. Try not to let this one intimidate you. Chances are this move won’t be as scary as you anticipate; in fact, many of the families we work with are able to make this shift pretty smoothly. Here’s what you’ll need to know to ensure that your transition is a success too.
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How do I introduce a crib to my baby?
Feel free to introduce your baby to the crib as soon as it’s assembled. Even if you intend to use the bassinet for most sleep times to start, you can still give your baby the opportunity to get used to the bigger sleep space.
Begin by offering non-sleep play periods in the crib. Some people feel that cribs should only be used for sleep, but at Huckleberry, we disagree. We want your baby to view the crib as a happy place, and feel secure as they adjust to this new space.
Keep the lights on, and the mood upbeat, while giving your baby 5 - 10 minutes of playtime in the crib a couple of times each day. Try playing fun music or singing songs (the theme song from “The Golden Girls” is always a solid choice). This can help create a lighter atmosphere, ideally making it easier for your little one to adjust to spending more time in the crib.
Some babies are comfortable in the crib right from the start, while others seem to hate it (cue the crying and flailing). Try not to be discouraged if your baby is in the latter group. Like most things with sleep, consistency and patience generally lead to improvement.
When to stop using the bassinet
Most babies should transition from the bassinet by 4 - 6 months of age due to safety and comfort factors. Check out the height, weight, and other safety recommendations from your specific bassinet manufacturer. Some bassinets are designed to safely accommodate babies up 25 lbs, while others are only meant to handle babies up to 20 lbs.
Regardless of their size, you’ll want to make the switch from the bassinet when your baby starts rolling, sitting up, and/or getting onto their hands and feet in a crawling position. That new mobility can place them at risk of falling out of the bassinet.
What does the transition from bassinet to crib look like?
Once you’ve decided your child is ready to sleep in a crib (whether that’s because they need a bigger space or you’re ready to move them to their own room), you can opt for a gradual move or to make the transition all at once.
You may prefer to make the shift in small stages if there aren’t safety issues (i.e., your baby hasn’t exceeded the height and weight allowances of the bassinet, and their mobility doesn’t put them in danger of falling out). In that case, you’ll start offering one sleep period in the crib per day (such as the first nap) and continue the rest in the bassinet. After a few days, you can move on to another sleep period in the crib (e.g., bedtime), and so on, until they’re no longer sleeping in the bassinet at all.
Wondering where to begin? Start with the first nap of the day, or bedtime only, in the crib. We find that these sleep periods tend to be the easiest. That is, parents, report that babies are less likely to fight sleep at these times compared to naps later in the day or falling back to sleep in the middle of the night. Once your baby has had several snoozes in the crib at these easier times, you can move on to the remaining sleep periods.
Parents who want to make the shift to the crib faster can start with bedtime in the crib, followed by all subsequent sleep periods. Since this is a period of adjustment, expect that sleep may be bumpy for a few days as your baby gets used to the new environment.
5 Tips and tricks for moving your baby to the crib
(Tip #1) Continue to use your consistent bedtime routine
Developing a calm pre-sleep routine (for both naps and bedtime) may not magically ensure your baby loves the switch to the crib. But it’s an important foundation-setting step. Consistent routines help cue that it’s time to wind down and sleep, no matter where that sleep takes place. That means your baby will know what to expect, whether sleep is happening in the bassinet or the crib.
Bonus: Not only do bedtime routines promote healthy sleep habits and improve overall well-being — they have broader positive consequences too (like increasing feelings of security and providing early learning opportunities).
(Tip #2) Give your newborn some practice
If space allows, give your baby the opportunity to fall asleep in the crib once in a while, even if they’re still using the bassinet for most sleep times. That way, when you’re ready to make the switch, they’ll have some experience being in the crib.
Look for opportune times when your baby is fed, dry, sleepy, and content. They may surprise you and drift right off to sleep! If your baby doesn't fall asleep in the crib, you can always try again another time.
(Tip #3) Start with an “easy” sleep time
Once you’re ready to swap the crib for the bassinet, we advise kicking off the transition with the easiest sleep period of the day. The idea is that your baby will be less likely to fight sleep and more likely to accept the new sleep space. Parents often tell us that it tends to be the first nap of the day or bedtime. You know your baby best, however, and their surest sleep session may be different.
(Tip #4) Simulate the coziness
Since bassinets are much smaller than cribs, some parents worry that their child will feel overwhelmed by the vast open space that the crib provides. If you think your baby will miss the comfort of the close sides of the bassinet, there’s an easy fix. Don’t place your baby in the middle of the crib. Instead, place them down at one end of the crib so that their body is parallel to the sides; this will give your baby the feeling of being enclosed on three sides and may help them feel more secure.
(Tip #5) Use the weaning feature on motion bassinets
If you have a self-moving bassinet (the kind that rocks, jiggles, or otherwise uses motion to lull your baby to sleep), you may be faced with an additional challenge as you transition away from it. Not only will your baby need to adjust to a new sleep space, but they’ll also need to adjust to falling asleep without the motion the bassinet provided.
Luckily, many of these modern bassinets have a weaning function, to help your baby acclimate to falling asleep with less movement. Use it! Unless your baby needs to transition to a crib immediately for safety reasons, the weaning feature can help your baby gradually adjust to falling asleep without motion, and learn to self-soothe, which can help reduce calls for parental help during the night and make the transition to the crib easier.
AAP guidelines of bassinet and crib use
To reduce the risk of a sleep-related death, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends always placing your baby down to sleep on their back. Use a firm, flat surface without soft objects (like pillows or stuffed animals) or lose bedding.
Whether your baby’s sleep space is a bassinet or a crib, the AAP also recommends that the furniture meets the safety requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You can read more about crib safety here.
Bassinet to crib transition FAQ
Q: When should I move my baby out of the bassinet?
You’ll want to ensure your baby doesn’t exceed the recommended height and weight guidance from the manufacturer. You’ll also want to stop using the bassinet once your baby starts to roll, sit up, and/or get in a crawling position.
Q: Is it hard to transition from a bassinet to a crib?
This varies. Many babies are able to switch to a crib without any issues, while other babies will go through an adjustment period where sleep patterns are less predictable (i.e. they may initially fight sleep or call out for help during the night more).
Q: When should my baby use a crib?
Your baby can use a crib right from the start. However, many parents prefer to use a smaller sleep space, like a bassinet or play yard during the first few months of life. This can make it easier to room share.
Q: At what age do you stop using a bassinet?
Most babies need to make the switch to a crib by 4 - 6 months of age. You’ll also want to make sure your baby is within the recommended size range for your specific bassinet. Review the manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight limitations.
Q: How long should I keep my baby in a bassinet?
You can keep your infant in the bassinet until they show signs of rolling, sitting up, or getting into a crawling position on their hands and knees. You’ll also want to transition your baby to a crib if they are getting close to the weight or height limits as set by the bassinet manufacturer.
Q: My baby won’t transition from the bassinet to the crib. What should I do?
Some babies will need time to adjust to their new sleep environment. Be sure to give your baby some non-sleep playtime in the crib during the day to help them acclimate to the unfamiliar space. Use a calm routine to cue that it is time to wind down for sleep at bedtime and nap times. With enough consistency and time, your baby should adjust.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.