TRANSITIONING YOUR BABY’S SLEEP ENVIRONMENT: BASSINETS, COTS & BIG BEDS
Every parent chooses to sleep their child differently, so what happens when you’re ready to transition them from one area, to another? They’ve become familiar and comfortable with one aspect of sleeping, and we want to protect the sleep they’re getting without too much interruption!
Commonly, we will hear parents say ‘my baby hates their cot!’, they try to put them in there and they cry, scream sometimes, which works them up and fights that nap you were trying to achieve. So why is it that they are trying to tell us? Yes they need their nap, yes they are tired - but it is unfamiliar territory going cold turkey from either co-sleeping to a cot, or a bassinet to a cot! For babies who are on the smaller side and can get more time from their bassinet (this could be up to 7+ months in some cases!), a change in their sleep environment such as cot transitioning can be daunting!
So what can we do to help them transition easily, protect their sleep (and yours!) and ease them into their new environment?
✖️Steady Eddy! Start slow. There is no rush to move them asap. Understand that they have become familiar with their previous environment and this is comfortable for them. Approach the situation positively, and for babies who have previously been in a bassinet, the cot will seem like a much bigger, more open environment for sleep!
✖️Keep it familiar. Use your positive sleep associations - if you’ve got a lovey, dummy, blankets (if age appropriate) and a good wind down. You may find that they need a little more 1:1 settling to begin with. Provide reassuring words with a calm and cool tone to show them that everything is ok in this new environment.
✖️If you want, you can wrap a cot sheet around your baby’s bassinet mattress for a couple of days (safely, ensuring no suffocation risk and that it is nice and snug!) so that the scent from the previous sleep environment can be easily transferred from the bassinet to the cot by applying the cot sheet when you’re ready to start sleeping!
✖️Begin with your day naps first. You can try for one day sleep in the new sleep environment for a couple of days, then move onto two (or more depending on how many naps your baby is having!) for another two days. Get your day sleep right first before attempting your night sleep! Ensuring your baby is settled for shorter naps will help them for longer night sleep. Expect that they may be unsettled to begin with.
✖️Children under the age of 2.5 years typically don’t have the neurological development to understand limitations, or more commonly put - staying in bed! Cue your ‘jack in the box’, creating more problems with sleep as this can becomes a ‘game’ for your child!! From 2.5 years you can transition to a toddler bed.
✖️The Three C's: Calm, Commitment & Consistence: You are NOT going to see changes in your child's sleep adaption in one day! These things take time, persistence, patience and commitment.
✖️Moving form co sleeping is another common theme. You can begin much like the bassinet to cot transition for younger babies, or go with a mattress on the floor option for older children. Moving your child from your bed, to the floor mattress (in the same room by your bed), then moving to their own bed with you sleeping on the mattress on their floor, and finally - to separate beds. Many parents foster co sleeping and have great success, but do find a time where they want their beds back! Doing this gradually has the best effect.
For more guidance regarding your baby’s sleep, check out our sleep guides !