In the first few months of parenthood, it is important that you create a safe sleeping environment for your newborn. This often involves your baby sleeping in a Moses basket or bedside crib, not only because it is small but because it will provide a cosy sleeping environment without being too overwhelming. Co-sleepers also create a much easier feeding position for those late night feeds.
However, it doesn’t take long for your baby to outgrow a basket or crib and a stress-free transfer of your baby to a cot or cot bed can make sleep for the whole family much easier going forward. Cotbeds are the most common long-term sleep solution and babies can stay in these for years depending on the size. Cots will last around 2 years and the more popular option of cotbeds last up to 5 years as you can take the sides off them creating an "almost" big boy/girl bed until they are ready for a standard bed. If your baby is ready, take the plunge and get them sleeping comfortably in their cot.
When should you ditch the Moses basket or crib?
Rather than having an age in mind, the decision to make the transition usually is determined by the size and development of your baby. If your child starts to outgrow their initial space and is waking themselves by hitting the sides, rocking themselves awake when they move around or ending up like a crouched frog, it’s probably time to make the move. Another factor is when your baby starts sitting up as some escape artists can get out of the co-sleeper before they have grown out of it. Some Moses baskets and cribs may have an upper weight limit too so this is worth checking.
Why won’t my baby sleep?
Many babies struggle to acclimatise themselves when they first move from a Moses basket or crib. Going from a small cosy space to a much more open one can be very new and strange for your baby. The cot is out of their comfort zone, away from their parents and too big in comparison to their previous bed.
Sleep associations can also come into play. Your child could have spent the last few months being rocked to sleep and now their sleep environment is changing. They haven’t slept in a cot before, so why would it be a place where they can instantly relax and sleep? Moving to the cot is the equivalent to your moving into the guest room – it’s a completely different environment and even some adults don’t sleep well when their environment has changed.
Top tips to get your baby to sleep in their cot
The number one goal in helping your baby sleep in their cot is to make it feel like their room and their bed. Here are a few top tips that should be considered:
· Make sure you spend non-sleep time in their room
· As parents, sleep on or with your baby’s cot sheet so that it has your scent
· Make the cot fun during non-sleep times – put some toys inside so they see it as a fun place to be (be sure to remove them at bedtime)
· Give it time. Don’t expect it to go perfectly the first day. It might take a few days to get them comfortable, or even a few weeks, but the first few nights will probably be the most challenging. Expect it to be rough and they might just surprise you.
There is very fine line between comforting and mollycoddling – it is important that your baby learns how to fall asleep on their own, otherwise you will be back and forth between your room and theirs all night which isn’t healthy for anyone. You might not be able to teach your baby to self-soothe, but you can provide them with the opportunity to learn for themselves through a consistent routine. Using a baby monitor can help with self soothing. There are so many to choose from whether you use one with a movement mat, video or just sound. This means that you can know that your baby is safe in their new sleeping space without needing to be in their bedroom with them.
Often times it's the parents who find it hardest transitioning from a co-sleeper/ moses basket into a cot but stay relaxed and trust the process.