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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Transitioning Your Baby to the Crib & Getting Her to Sleep Through the Night

About three weeks ago, we began to transition Jordan from my bed to her crib and it went so well that I waited to write about it to make sure it wasn't a fluke.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't without any crying, which would probably be a miracle, but it was so much less painful than I anticipated!  It took about one week to get her sleeping through the night in her crib and I couldn't have been more surprised.


our nursery



This is a lengthy post, and you won't hurt my feelings if you skip this and come back tomorrow for Wardrobe Wednesday - Outfits Lately!  If I didn't have a baby right now, I'd probably skip it too;) But, if you have a small baby, or one you are trying to get to sleep through the night, you might be devouring everything you can read about how you can get baby to sleep so YOU can get some sleep too.  That was me a month ago! 

She's 5 months old now!


I co-slept with Jordan for the first four months of her life in my king size bed. My husband got the boot to our son's room to give us more room in the bed, but also because our six-year-old had been having nightmares and waking up in the night asking for dad to sleep with him, so it kind of worked out.

I really enjoyed those first few months cosleeping with our baby.  There's just something so beautiful and lovely about sleeping with your babe even though I know it's not for everyone.  I just removed the covers from the bed at night and only had my pillow in there, and it was super convenient because I am exclusively breastfeeding her. Whenever she would be hungry in the night, I could easily roll over and nurse her. 


After a few months though, it seemed like I was nursing her all throughout the night. I didn't think she could really be that hungry, and I felt like we were nursing more out of habit than hunger. She stir or make sounds and I'd immediately start nursing her to get her back to sleep.  Every morning I was waking up more and more tired and started to feel like we were going to have to make a change soon.

I used to put Jordan to sleep in my bed swaddled, but around three months old, she started liking to soothe herself by sucking on one hand, so I began swaddling with one arm out. About the time she turned four months old, she started rolling from back to belly when were playing on the floor, so I wasn't feeling comfortable leaving her in the bed, swaddled, even though she had never rolled over in the bed. 

So, for about a week, I was putting her to bed in my bed, on her back, unswaddled.  She wouldn't roll over, but she started waking up about every 30 minutes - I'm guessing because she kept startling herself while her arms were unswaddled.  I was starting to dread bedtime, because even though I put her down around 6:30 p.m., I was going back in and nursing her back to sleep about every 30 minutes for hours!

The combination of nursing throughout the night, starting to get worried about her rolling (potentially off the bed), and her not being able to stay asleep without me nursing her every 30 minutes made me realize we needed a change.  For her and me!



The first step in transitioning Jordan to her crib was putting her in the bassinet in our room, next to my bed, to sleep at night. I did this for a few nights, but it was such a small bassinet that I felt like she really did need more room and needed to be in her crib. At the same time, I started putting her down for naps in her Mamaroo in her nursery. Before that, the Mamaroo was in the living room and that's where she napped.

She was sleeping better in her nursery because when she fell asleep to nap in the living room, of course there was lots of commotion with kids running around and often the TV would be on as well. Also, her room was dark with blackout shades and the living room is bright.  But, she started to get wiggly and so I didn't feel comfortable leaving her in the Mamaroo anymore either.

I started researching and reading as much as I could about transitioning a baby to the crib and getting them to sooth themself to sleep.  With my son, when he was a baby, I was never able to put him to sleep awake in his crib and it was so rough. I always rocked him to sleep and then would try to put him into his crib asleep and did that little hovering dance where I would try not to wake him up as I laid him down in the crib. I would hold my breath and try to tiptoe out of the room but on so many occasions he would wake up and I would have to start that process all over again. It was exhausting!

I knew with Jordan I definitely wanted to get her to the point where I could put her in the crib asleep, tell her "night night, I love you" and give her a kiss, then walk away and have her fall asleep on her own. I've seen it work with my sister-in-law's babies so I knew it could be done, but I wasn't sure how to get there.



I have to start this section by explaining that I'm not #teamCIO.  I don't judge other parents who go that route, but I knew I could never do it.  And by "it", I mean leave baby in her crib to cry herself to sleep, however long it took, without going in to offer some love and comfort.  Before I started reading and researching I had never even heard of the term "sleep training" but then I saw that there's another way from what I used to think of as CIO, a more mild approach I thought I could live with.

With a modified cry it out approach, you put your baby in the crib when she's sleepy but not all the asleep and you're "teaching" her how to soothe herself to sleep, as opposed to being the one to rock, sing, hold, nurse to sleep.  Putting baby to bed sleepy is key because if they're not tired, they obviously won't fall asleep.

Once you put the baby in the crib, you do a combination of shush/pat their back (it works better for Jordan if I pat her booty), but you only do it for about one minute, then you leave the room. I would stay away for one minute, then come back in and do the shh/pat for another minute. If she was still crying I would leave for three minutes and then come back. I'd do the shh/pat for one-two minutes, then stay away for five minutes.  You are supposed to increase your time away, but I could never go longer than 10 minutes at a time.  10 minutes is like a year of your life when you're doing this and your baby is crying.

Sometimes, I'd stay in the room and watch her where she couldn't see me.  I'm not gonna lie, seeing and hearing my baby cry for even three minutes is excruciatingly difficult.  I felt like I wanted to pick her up and hold her and tell her it's OK, but I've also read that if you stick with this approach it can work within three days. I felt like if I gave in and picked her up after such a short period of time (relatively speaking) that I would interrupt the process and it would just drag on even longer. Thank God, she would usually fall asleep by the time I had left for five minutes and come back.  

I first tried this on a Friday morning for her first nap of the day. I know she always goes down for a morning nap after being awake for about an hour or hour and a half, so I was certain she was tired and ready to go to sleep. The first time I tried it, she was asleep within three minutes and slept for two hours!  I was seriously doing the happy, happy dance and just couldn't believe she fell asleep on her own so quickly! She normally only sleeps about 45 minutes for her naps.  I think she slept so long that time because she had rolled over onto her belly and she was sleeping so soundly. Of course, that totally freaked me out because I didn't know if she was ready to be sleeping on her stomach yet. I stayed in the room with her for those whole two hours and just watched her closely, but it was awesome that she got to sleep on her own!


After researching when it's safe to let baby sleep on her belly, everything I read said if they can roll over onto their belly on their own, you don't need to reposition them.  I was still really freaked out for about the first week.  

I tried it again for her afternoon nap that same day, but I didn't make it to 10 minutes because I doubted if she was really ready for her nap.  She was crying so hard, and I didn't feel confident about her being ready to sleep, so I just picked her up and waited until bedtime.  This isn't an exact science, you do have to listen to your mama instincts too.  At the same time, you have to be willing to let there be some crying to get through it. 

That first night I put her to sleep in her crib and she fell asleep on her own, she woke up at 3am to eat. She continued to wake up at 3am to eat for the first week, but after that has been sleeping through the night without waking up at all.  I was totally prepared to be up at 3am feeding her for a least a couple more months, but I figure if she's sleeping through eating at this point, she's good and I'm happy to get a full night's sleep.

I put her down anywhere between 5:30 (if she doesn't take a late afternoon nap) and 6:30pm (if she gets that nap) and she sleeps all the way until about 6:30 - 7:30 a.m.  Sometimes she stirs around 2 o4 4, and I know only because I get a Dropcam alert (more on that below), but she's not crying.  She may "fuss" a bit, but if I just watch from Dropcam, she'll fall back asleep on her own within about 5 minutes. I probably wouldn't even know she stirred had I not gotten the alert because she's pretty quiet. 

Now, when I put her down to sleep (if she's ready to fall asleep), she immediately rolls onto her belly and will whine, and sometimes cry a little, but she puts her head to the side and starts sucking her thumb.  I do the shh/pat for maybe 20 seconds and then leave the room.  She might still whimper or whine for a few minutes, but she usually falls right to sleep after that.  

On a few occasions recently, it's been a little harder to get her to sleep.  I wonder if when she misses that afternoon nap (and by miss I mean I put her down, but she doesn't sleep within 5-10 minutes and I get her back up) that she's overtired by the time she goes to bed for the night.  I'll put her down and she'll roll onto her belly, but cry and push up instead of putting her head right down.  If I'm sure she's tired, I shh/pat for 20 seconds and leave the room for 5 minutes.  Usually within those 5 minutes she's alternating between crying and whimpering (which she does before falling asleep).  If she's more crying at the 5-7 minute mark, I'll go back in and shh/pat for a minute, but she usually falls asleep right at that time or within a few minutes of that first shhh/pat.

It's much easier for me to accept that 5-7 minute cry/whine now because I've learned it's just the process of how she falls asleep sometimes and she's not crying hard for the whole time, just winding herself down in preparation for sleep.

At the naptimes especially, it's really important for me to watch for her sleep cues so I get her down while she's tired, but not before she's ready or too overtired.  Her cues are yawning, rubbing her eyes, and extreme fussiness.  She's typically so happy and easygoing, so if she's fed and still really fussy, even if I'm holding her, it's usually because she's ready for a nap or to go to bed.  When I hold her, she'll put her head on my shoulder and rub her eyes and that's my dead giveaway she wants to go to sleep.  


Our sleep routine looks sometimes like this now:

Bedtime 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wake up 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.
1st nap - 1 - 1 1/2 hour after waking up (45 minutes) 
2nd nap - about 2 hours later (45 minutes)
3rd nap (sometimes)- around 4:00 p.m. (45 minutes)

We also do the exact same bedtime routine every night, which includes:

1.  Dimming the lights in the room in preparation for winding down and bath 
2.  Giving her a bath 
3.  Putting on footie pajamas since I have no blanket in the crib
4.  Turning on the sound machine app "sleep pillow" and we use the rain sound, turned up loud
5.  Turning out the lights completely, we don't even use a nightlight 
6.  Feeding a 4oz bottle 
7.  Putting her in the crib and saying softly, "time for night, night, I love you." 

For naps, we still keep the room dark and use the sound machine, but I usually feed her when she wakes up as opposed to when she's going to sleep.  I do have a mesh bumper in the crib and I'm glad because she rolls around now and it offers some cushion from the wood on the sides it covers.  


One thing that has helped so much is we installed Dropcam in her room which syncs to an app on your phone and iPad so I can watch and hear her at any time in her crib - even if I'm out of the house. It also sends an alert to my phone when it senses motion so if she turns over I get an alert and I can see what she's doing. Also, if I hear her fussing I can just look at my phone and see if I really need to go in and check on her or is she OK and just soothing herself back to sleep. I find if she wakes in the middle of the night, if I just watch the app from my bed, she's usually able to get herself back to sleep within five minutes.

So, when I say she's slept through the night, that means she might have woken up at the end of a sleep cycle or because she rolled over, but she didn't wake up to the point of needing to be picked up or eat. 


If you made it to the end of this post, I applaud you!  Thanks for sticking with me! 

And don't think I left little miss Jordan out of my #Nsale purchases!  She got this adorable dress and this super cute outfit (bottoms + top)!  These headbands are awesome (she already has one in pink) but I might need to get her these shoes!

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If you're in Houston, please join me in two weeks (Saturday, July 30 from 11am - 1pm) at the Palais Royal in Meyerland at their Back to School Party!  I'd love to meet you and it will be a blast, with a live DJ, refreshments, photo booth and pictures with the Texans mascot, Toro.  My son is super excited for that!  We'll kill two birds with one stone because I can shop for his school uniform there too!  Hope to see you there!



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keep in touch! 




29 comments:

  1. So good when they can self soothe. Such an important life skill I think.

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  2. Hi, Megan! Totally unsolicited advice here, but I thought I'd comment in case it helps. I'm a nanny, and one thing I've learned with young babies is that if they're very obviously tired (rubbing eyes, extremely fussy, etc), they're almost always overtired, or at least on the verge of being overtired. Jordan may well be overtired in the afternoon, especially if she's skipping her nap. Every baby is different, obviously, but you may find that if you put her down before you get to overt signs of tiredness, that she'll sleep :) I would also encourage you to stretch the cry time to 15 minutes if she's not hysterical (and if you can handle it!), because I noticed with one of my nanny babies that 11-12 minutes was the norm during one of his sleep regressions. I really recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth. The most surprising thing in it for me was the appropriate awake times for babies based on their ages. I want to say for a baby Jordan's age, her max awake time should be 2 hours, maybe 3. Not everything in the book is helpful, especially for toddlers, but it's been a helpful guide for me. Hellobee is another great resource. It's a blogging site & community and I've read tons of interesting things about how parents approach sleep (and tons of other areas) with their babies & small children. Obviously you're not having too much trouble with Jordan's sleep right now, but you may like the site anyway. Hope some of that is helpful! Baby J is adorable!

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    1. Thanks for sharing that book, I'll check it out. I do need to work on getting Jordan to take that afternoon nap. Last night she was really tired by 5pm and went to bed early, then woke up at 4:30 and ate, then didn't go back to sleep until 6! So funny that I write this post and then that happened, but wanted to share since babies often do things differently just when you think you've got it figured! :)

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    2. @Unknown and Megan, I have a question. My 5 month old (born at 33wks3 days, so 3.5 months adjusted) has been napping and sleeping through the night like a charm (for about 2 months). He's total clockwork. However, he sleeps in his mamaroo in his room and I'm looking to transition him to his crib. He'll start daycare in 1.5 weeks, so I'd like it to not be totally jarring for him. I did the Ferber CIO method with my daughter and it was a miracle that worked in 2 days. My question is...I've started today with one nap, should I do all naps and bedtime so as not to confuse him or only do one nap today, two naps tomorrow, etc. until it's all sleep times including bedtime?

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    3. Congrats on your little baby!! If he did well with the one nap, I'd move all sleeping to the crib. Might as well try it especially since he'll be starting daycare soon. Jordan slept in her mamaroo at first too, but then she really got too big for it and I was afraid she would fall out.

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    4. Thank you!! Yes, he was getting a bit big for his mamaroo as well! His first nap, he slept 30 minutes, and I did a bit of CIO, and after a total crib time of about an hour and 15 minutes, got him up and did our routine of playing and bottle. This nap, he slept a solid 30 minutes and then has been awake and asleep off and on all on his own without me going in at all. I take this as a positive sign, and as you suggested, will move all naps/bedtime to the crib. Of course, his naps used to be closer to 1.5 hours straight, but I think it will take some time to adjust. Another question is...did you have a cut off for naps? For instance, an hour is the minimum time to be in the crib for a nap? It's hard to know when to just give up and get him out, knowing that he is still tired, and he will just have to sleep next naptime.

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    5. I let Jordan nap for as long or short as she wants, but she's usually 45 min to 1 hour. But last Sunday, for her morning nap she slept 3 hours! I kept going in and checking on her because that is so unusual for her that I got worried. I think she was just worn out from the day before when we were out in the heat at my son's baseball game for 2 hours. Now if I put Jordan down for a nap and she doesn't lay down or cries to get out, I get her out and try again later. If she's ready for a nap, she'll usually put her head down, even if she's still fussing. I can watch her from the app on my phone and usually tell if she's going to fall asleep or if I need to get her up.

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  3. I don't have little ones yet, but this post was so interesting to me! I'm bookmarking this for future reference because I hope mine will be able to self-soothe!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

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  4. Transitioning to the crib takes a lot of time and patience for sure. We had one with severe reflux so we had to be extra cautious of her sleeping positions so she wouldn't aspirate should she throw up (TMI, but truthful).
    In regards to naps, all are really individual, but we only did two naps a day. One about and 1 and a half to two hours after waking and then again mid-afternoon. I found that worked best for us. The time in between was used for lunch (once on solid foods) and play/tummy time. They were usually more than ready to go down around 2 and slept for a couple hours. Then would be up for play/tummy time, dinner and bath.
    It truly is about finding a routine that works and schedule, and sticking to it. Trust me, I knew when my girls missed their afternoon nap! LOL
    I cannot believe she is 5 months already!!! And that hair, love it.

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    1. I'm so happy she's getting to use her beautiful nursery!

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  5. Thank you so much for this! I'm a new mom to a four month old and love hearing how other moms get their babies to sleep through the night.

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    1. Ah, congrats on your little one Jo! That's my mom's name too!

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  6. Thanks so much for taking time to share this. I'm pregnant with number 4, and I'm determined she'll sleep through the night sooner than her brothers! It's my fault- I'm so bad at letting them cry, but your experience and gentle method really encouraged me. Mine tend to fall asleep while nursing and get used to that, so it's one association I need to break. Do you nurse her the last time before or after her bath? Do you nurse in her room or somewhere else? Thank you again!

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    1. I usually feed her a bottle instead of nursing the last time just because I wanted to make sure I knew how much she was eating and I often also BF her close to bedtime, so I'm not sure how much supply I have at bedtime. I feed her after her bath in her glider in her nursery. It's the last thing I do before putting her to bed in her crib. The lights are already out and the sound machine is on.

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    2. Thanks! And I hadn't thought about that- I wonder if my supply is low at that point in the say too, leading to night wakings? Good idea to try a bottle then. Thanks!

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  7. Everytime I finish reading an update on Jordan, I feel better about where Sophia is. I guess it's the first time mom in me second guessing if Sophia is on track or behind or cries too much, etc. I use to love your fitness updates the most but now baby updates are my new favorite with fitness following close behind.

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    1. Thank you Stormie. It is helpful to see where other babies are just as a guide (I do that too!), and I'm sure Sophia is doing perfectly!

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  8. I kept my son in my room until he was 6 months old and it was time for me to go back to work. He slept on a playpen in my room and I think I was the one not ready to transition him into his room. I began putting him down in his crib for his naps, which definitely helped. My son slept like a prince the very first night in his room. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and I would speak to him through the speaker in his camera and that was enough for him to go back to sleep. (It took me many sleepless nights to discover that all he wanted was to hear my voice). The hardest part was to teach him to sooth himself to sleep as I would rock him to sleep and that routine lasted longer than it should have mainly because I felt that was my bonding time with my son since by then I was already back to work. It got to the point where I found myself rocking him for almost two hours. I totally agree with the modified CIO method you described. That's what I did and it worked in a matter of days.

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    1. I know how you feel. I think sometimes it's harder for us moms to let the babies transition. We can speak through drop cam too, but I haven't done it yet. I'm glad to hear it worked for you in a matter of days too so that can give other tired moms hope! It's difficult at first, but sooooo worth it in just a few days!

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  9. Thanks for the detailed post! We have been discussing doing this for our 5 months old twins but haven't started yet. It would be so much easier if they fell asleep on their own for their naps and at bedtime! It's good to hear your positive experience.

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    1. Twins!! Double the fun, right?! Will they sleep in the same room? Sending good energy for good sleep your way!

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  10. This post is so timely! My daughter is 2.5 months old and the moment she starts making sounds at night(usually around 2am) I start nursing her even though she's just content sucking on her thumb.I just feel bad that she might be sucking her thumb because she's hungry.I guess I have to just let her soothe herself by sucking on her thumb and get my much needed sleep.

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    1. She'll probably really let you know if just sucking her thumb isn't doing it and she's actually hungry. My daughter sucks her thumb to sleep now.

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  11. Megan, thank you for sharing Jordan's routine. You are doing awesome. I have an 8 week old, born at 36 weeks. On top of him spending 5 days in the NICU (breathing and feeding issues), he has been diagnosed with acid reflux at 4 weeks. Our routine or lack thereof is getting better but nowhere near as perfect as yours. I must admit I am a little bit jealous ;) I am looking forward to more baby posts.

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear that! We feel helpless when our babies are suffering. James was also in the NICU at first and it was so hard. My prayers are with you! I'm thankful for our routine, and promise you'll get there in time. When Jordan was 2 months, she was still in the bed with me.

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  12. How is she 5 months old already?! Such a little beauty :) And so happy to read that you're both getting better sleep. Around the same age my daughter Olivia started a similar pattern and neither of us were getting very good rest. Switching her to the crib was best for us at that point too but I know many moms who have had success with lots of different methods. I'm so glad you found something that you were comfortable with and is working so well! We also had the same issue with the 2nd afternoon nap. Knowing that she would eventually go down to a single afternoon nap we slowly shifted and made the morning nap shorter. So instead of letting her sleep 2 hours I would wake her up after an hour and 45 min, and then a few days later just 1 hr 30min....and in turn the afternoon nap lengthened too. The book someone already recommended "Healthy Sleep Happy Child" was so helpful for that. Olivia is our 4th and has been such a different sleeper than our other three...and that book has been a life saver for our household with all of them! Not that you were soliciting recommendations ;) Thanks so much for sharing your experience and cheers to a better nights sleep!

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    1. I've heard of that book, might actually have it on my Kindle, need to see! It's been a couple weeks since I posted this and now Jordan is getting that third nap and she's been going to sleep for the night so early- like 5:30! So, she's getting 3 naps (45 minutes - 1 hour each). I'm sure it will change again soon!

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I read every one! I try to answer questions in the comment section since many readers are "no reply" and so everyone can benefit from the response- so please check back. :)

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