How to Stop Co-Sleeping & Transition Your Baby to a Crib

 

When my daughter was born, I didn’t plan to co-sleep with her. I knew that the safest sleep space for a baby or toddler is the crib so hers was set up in our bedroom. The problem was that she vomited every time I laid her flat, so we resorted to bed sharing and Daddy got moved to the couch. 

A few months later she started rolling and I couldn’t sleep out of worrying she’d roll off the bed. At that point I knew I needed to stop co-sleeping and transition my baby to a crib.

There are serious safety risks when bed-sharing with your baby or toddler, which is why the AAP advise against it. Plus, co-sleeping with a baby that can roll, crawl or scoot off the bed presents an even bigger challenge. Babies and toddlers sleep best when their sleep space has boundaries and parents sleep well from the peace of mind they get knowing their baby is safe. 

If you’re ready to stop co-sleeping and transition your baby or toddler to a crib, you’re in the right place. This article explains the necessary steps to take and gives you options on how to do it.

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

What’s the best age to transition from co-sleeping?

 

To be honest, there isn’t a perfect age to transition from co-sleeping. 

If you’re ready to get your baby or toddler happily falling asleep on their own and sleeping all night in the crib, then tonight is the best age! Don’t waste another sleepless night thinking you should wait until your child is older because it will be easier, because that’s not necessarily true. 

If you have a young baby, like a 3 month old, it’s especially important to transition them to a crib now because it’s the safest sleep space and reduces the risk of SIDS. 

Some parents want to wait until their baby is 9 or 12 months to transition to a crib, but again, there’s no point in waiting. Whatever age your baby or toddler is right now is the best age to transition!

 

 Crib versus toddler bed?

 

Need help deciding between transitioning from co-sleeping to a crib or toddler bed? 

As a baby sleep consultant who has worked with tens of thousands of parents, trust me when I say this – it’s best to keep your child in the crib until at least 3 years old.

That’s because when parents are sleeping, children are unsupervised. So we need to keep them safe until they’re at an age where they can be expected to safely play on their own ( which is 3-4 years old.)

The reason why 3 years old is the “magic age” is because at this point children have developed the cognitive maturity and impulse control to stay in their bed. 

In fact, studies show that crib sleeping is associated with:

  • Earlier bedtimes
  • Falling asleep quicker
  • Fewer night wakings
  • Longer stretches of sleep
  • Increased nighttime sleep duration
  • Decreased bedtime resistance and sleep problems

So stick with the crib until 3 years old unless your toddler is repeatedly climbing out, which becomes a safety risk.

 

Related: How to transition from crib to a toddler bed

 

How long does it take to transition from co-sleeping to a crib?

 

In my sleep training program, 21 Days to Peace & Quiet, I help parents transition from bed sharing to the crib every day. 

What I have found works best is when you combine stopping co-sleeping with sleep training. This means that you teach your baby to accept the crib while you also teach them how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. 

When you do, the process of transitioning to the crib tends to go quicker. Of course, you must be consistent and it’s best if you have a step-by-step plan which is exactly what I provide parents with in my sleep training program here

In general, the average time it takes to transition from bed sharing to crib ranges from a few days to potentially a week or two.

 

How to set up a safe crib

 

Setting up your baby or toddler’s crib for safe sleep is super simple. Less is more! 

All your baby needs inside their crib is a mattress with a fitted sheet. This means no mobiles, no bumpers, no pillows and no loose blankets.

If your child is 12 months or older they can sleep with a lovey or stuffed animal. Just make sure they have no small parts that can be bitten off (like plastic eyes or noses).

If your child is 2 years or older they can have a thin pillow.

 

See my complete guide on setting up a safe crib here.

 

How To Transition From Bed-Sharing to a Crib

 

Option 1: A Gentle Transition

 

Here’s the approach I took with my 5 month old. First, I got her used to sleeping without needing to touch me all night. Then I moved her to the crib. After that, she was sleep trained in her own bedroom. 

This approach works well for parents who are nervous (or sad) about stopping co-sleeping. It’s also good for babies who have rejected the crib previously. 

 

Step One: Sleep 1-2 feet away from baby in your bed. 

Help your baby or toddler fall asleep as you normally do. Then, slowly scoot away and sleep at the other end of your bed. This gentle move puts some distance between you and your baby, which gets them (unconsciously) used to not sleeping right next to you. If your baby wakes up, help them back to sleep and scoot away again. Repeat this for 2-3 nights.

 

Step Two: Put baby’s crib next to your bed 

Set up your baby’s crib or a travel crib, like the Pack n Play, Guava Lotus or Baby Bjorn, next to your bed.

Your goal is to get your baby used to sleeping in a new space, without them realizing it. Help your baby fall asleep as you normally do (feeding, rocking or lying down together are fine.) Once baby is asleep, carefully move them to the crib. You’re placing your baby in the crib already asleep. Each time your baby wakes at night, help them back to sleep. Then gently place them in the crib again.

If your baby or toddler wakes up after two hours and fights going back into the crib, that’s ok. You managed to get two hours of crib time! Tomorrow night, you can aim for three hours and increase each night over the next week until your baby is spending at least half the night in the crib. That’s a big win! 

Many babies sleep better with a bit of distance from their parents. And parents definitely sleep better when they can’t hear each rustle or peep out of their baby or toddler all night. See if pushing the crib away from your bed toward a corner of the room helps everyone sleep better. 

Some babies easily transition from co-sleeping and start spending at least half the night in the crib. While other babies might wake each time they’re placed in the crib. 

Give it 1-2 nights to see how your baby adapts. If you’re ready for your baby to sleep in their own bedroom, that works too! You may be shuffling back and forth between bedrooms for a few nights, but short-term effort leads to long-term gains. 

This step gets babies used to sleeping in the crib before beginning sleep training. It also gives parents confidence that their babies can learn new, independent sleep habits. 

 

Step Three: Begin sleep training! 

Teaching your baby or toddler to sleep independently in the crib is the sure way to get them happily sleeping there all night. If you don’t encourage independent sleep, your baby will probably migrate back to your bed very soon. My gentle sleep training program walks you through all the details and you can get personal support, too.  

The most important step of sleep training is teaching your baby to fall asleep independently. This means putting your baby or toddler in the crib awake and encouraging them to fall asleep on their own. The way your baby falls asleep at bedtime is the same way they need to fall back to sleep each time they wake at night. Once your baby can settle to sleep on their own (and resettle during the night) they’ll start sleeping long stretches. 

You can sleep train while room sharing with your baby or set them up in their own bedroom. Either way works, as long as you stay consistent with your sleep training plan. 

If your baby or toddler still eats at night, ask your doctor if they’re ready for night weaning. I recommend reducing or eliminating night feeds when you begin sleep training. Here’s my guide on weaning night feeds

 

Option 2: A Quick Approach

 

This is the “cold turkey” approach to stopping co-sleeping and transitioning to the crib. You will sleep train and transition your baby or toddler to the crib at the same time. With this approach, you begin sleep training with your toddler in the crib on the first night. Your bed is now “off the menu.” 

On night one, place your baby in the crib after your relaxing bedtime routine and use a sleep training method to teach them to fall asleep there. You’ll use the same sleep training method for all night wakings, and keep your baby in the crib all night. Reducing or weaning off night feeds happens simultaneously with sleep training. (Want help with this? Sign up for my proven sleep training program here!)

As you might expect, because there’s no “warming up period” this method can lead to some resistance from your baby. But if you’ve tried the gradual approach and it didn’t work or you need to start getting some sleep right away, this method will get the quickest results. And yes, it’s safe and will not harm your baby.

Many parents use the quick approach in my sleep training program, because they’re suffering badly with broken sleep and need to sleep right away. Parents of very active babies (rolling, crawling or walking) choose this approach when co-sleeping becomes a safety risk. As do parents who are ready to stop co-sleeping as soon as possible.

 

How can I do sleep training after co-sleeping with my baby?

 

A lot of parents ask me about how to sleep train while weaning off co-sleeping. Are you supposed to sleep train before, during or after?

This depends on the method you choose. If you opt to stop co-sleeping with your baby using my gradual method, you will sleep train after a few days of transitioning to the crib.

If you’re going cold turkey on stopping co-sleeping, you will sleep train and wean off bed-sharing at the same time. 

If this feels overwhelming or scary, remember that I have a sleep training program that has helped thousands of families get their babies happily sleeping in the crib all night. You can add on personal support too! Learn more about my gentle program here. 

 

I hope this article helped you understand your options for stopping co-sleeping and the best ways to get your baby happily sleeping in a crib. Remember, you can either go gradual or cold turkey, and everything you need to know is in this article. 

Got any questions? Ask away in the comments and good luck!

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16 Comments

  1. Jamie O

    Hi Jilly! My son is 3 months old and has been co-sleeping with me in my bed since 1 month old. I’m desperate to get him in his crib. Is he too young for this program?

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi Jamie,

      We would love to help you reach your goals. I completely understand that you’re exhausted after co-sleeping for 2 months!

      Our program regularly starts at 5 months old, but you can still sign up now and only use the tips from Lessons 1-6. Once he’s 5 months, we’ll start Lesson 7 (where the magic happens). But completing the first 6 lessons will still get him sleeping way better than he already is, even if he’s a little young.

      Our sleep program is on 20% off right now, so it’s the absolutely best time to sign up:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant/

      Just make sure you join WITH support, since your little guy is younger – we need to be in touch regarding how to adapt the program to his age.

      Can’t wait to work with you, Jamie!
      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  2. Rebecca

    I have a almost 13 month old. She slept in the bassinet for the first 2 or so months of her life and then we moved her to the crib. She has had no problem sleeping in the crib. However she got covid in July when she was 9 months old and she woke up one night screaming because she was sick and we brought her to bed with us for the first time. Ever since July it has been almost impossible to get her to sleep back in her crib as we have been cosleeping for months now. She sleeps great in the bed with me and tosses and turns some nights but mostly pretty well. Sometimes she will crawl on my chest and fall back asleep. This afternoon for her nap i got her asleep in my arms then tried to move her to her crib, she woke up instantly. I got her back asleep in the rocking chair with me then moved her to the crib again and she woke up instantly again. How do I get her used to the crib again???

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi Rebecca,

      I completely understand. When our babies are sick, we want to be there for them, but sometimes that means we fall into habits we don’t like!

      We help parents like you every day in our sleep training program. The fact that she was previously sleeping well is extremely helpful because it’ll be easier to get her back where she was!

      I recommend you join the program with support, so you get all the info you need but so that you can also talk to us via messaging and zoom calls regarding what to do. Here is the link:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant/

      I hope to see you inside the program so we can start working, Rebecca!
      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  3. Lauren

    Hello, I’m very desperate as my 11 month old and I co sleep and have been since she was about 3 months old. She falls right asleep in my bed for naps and bedtime with a paci or bottle but wakes up Everytime I try and put her in the crib. If I leave her in my bed she wakes up multiple times throughout the night and I never get any sleep. Please help on which program to use. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid

      Hi Lauren! Thanks for your message. Our 21 Days Program would be perfect for your situation. You can get more information here: https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant.

      Please let us know if you have any additional questions, and we would be happy to help!

      Best,

      Ingrid, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  4. Emily

    My daughter is coming up two in september and ever since shes been 9 months we’ve coslept. I only have a one bedroom flat, she will fall asleep in her cot as easy as pie but the moment she hears me open the door shes wide awake and in my bed. I don’t mind that so much but she now wakes up at 3am every few nights and is ready for the day. I’m a single parent and I’m exhausted, were also moving soon to a two bed house which I’m hoping will help. Are there any tips or tricks in order to get me a good night sleep for now and to start the transition for her new bedroom?

    From one very tired and desperate mum.

    Reply
  5. Jasmine

    I am excited to try this method with my son. You hit it on the head for a mom like myself. My son loves sleeping on me and he hated the cold turkey way.

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi Jasmine,

      So happy you appreciate it. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  6. pat

    hello, my wife and i have a soon to be 5 months old girl and everytime we try to put her in her crib she will sleep for 15 20 mins and then wake up crying. we dont know what else to do.

    please help

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi, Pat!

      So sorry to hear that. I think I saw your message in the chat as well.

      We would love to help your 5 month old baby girl sleep through the night – and start loving the crib. All this is possible in our sleep program here:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant/

      The program has a 98% success rate and has helped thousands of parents get their babies loving bedtime, and sleeping through the night! We can’t wait to work with you.

      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  7. Amber Sovine

    I have a 2 year old who is attached to me and refuses to sleep in his crib. I’ve tried rocking him to sleep and putting him down and as soon as I do, he wakes up and wants me to hold him. He clings to me most of the night. How can I get him to sleep in his own bed?

    Reply
    • Artemis

      Hi Amber,

      Sorry to hear this. If you’ve tried everything in this blog post but it doesn’t work, I would highly recommend joining our program where we can get your little one sleeping all night long in his crib:
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant/

      I hope you join us soon,
      Artemis, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  8. Charlotte Taylor

    My 10 month old has a bottle at 7pm at bedtime, and he usually falls asleep whilst feeding. How can I get him to learn to fall asleep on his own (if he’s already asleep) and still have his bottle? Thank you

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Charlotte,

      Thanks so much for reaching out to us! The best thing that you can do is to move your bottle a little earlier in the bedtime routine and to try and keep your little one awake while feeding. After feeding, I would try to read some books to separate the bottle and going into the crib. Once your LO can learn how to fall asleep independently and drop the feeding to sleep association, you will see that he is capable of sleeping 11-12 hours at night independently!

      We can definitely help you get your LO’s sleep on track and get your entire family sleeping better! We can provide the best support to your family in our 21 Days to Peace & Quiet program.

      In this program we offer 4 step-by-step sleep training methods. You choose the one that feels best for your LO. We have super gentle & gradual all the way to quick & efficient. Each step of the way you get advice based on your baby’s developmental stage, energy levels, and temperament.

      One of our package options include personalized support and I find this to be so beneficial during the sleep training journey! Jilly and members of our support team answer questions 5 days a week in our private Slack group and we host 2 Zoom calls per week! You will always feel like you have the support you need every step of the way.

      Program Link: https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/baby-sleep-consultant

      Definitely check it out while we are offering a 15% off sale for the summer. I used the program with both of my girls and it was a lifesaver for my family. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

      Sincerely,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply

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