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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Moving to the Crib

Q.  My daughter is 2-months-old, and I’m wondering if this is too young for her to start sleeping in a crib in her own room. She’s been in ours since we brought her home and she never sleeps through the night without waking at least a couple of times. 
 

A.  Deciding where a young baby should sleep depends on several factors, the most important being your own beliefs and values.  Some families have children sleep in their room for years; others want them in their own room from the start, and then there’s everything in between. 

If you want to move her to her own room, rest assured, two months is not too young to sleep on her own in the crib.  However, it is too young to expect that she will sleep through the night.  If getting up and walking to her room for feedings is going to make you more tired than you are already, you may want to wait a bit for the big move.

When you do decide to transition your little one to her own room, help her prepare for the change by making her room a safe, familiar place.  During her alert periods, make sure she spends some time in her room with you playing and reading.  And use her bedroom for diapering and for bedtime and naptime routines. You might also want to gradually get her used to the crib by starting with naps and then to bedtime which is often the harder transition. With these warm and nurturing experiences, your daughter will learn to connect her room with cozy, safe feelings. 

While most babies are not able to sleep through the night without feedings until they are between 4 and 6 months old (ask your pediatrician to be sure), you can help your little one begin learning how to put herself to sleep now.  Because babies are so incredibly adorable and cuddly we hold them, rock them, feed them, or sing them to sleep.  This is great for both parent and baby, since it makes the two of you feel close and bonded.  (It also makes it easier for them to fall asleep!) The problem is that when babies connect these actions with the process of falling asleep, when they wake up during the night (as we all do), they need that rocking or singing or feeding to fall back asleep.  So, the secret is to create a loving and nurturing bedtime routine with lots of cuddling, talking, and singing together but when you put your baby to sleep, you put her down awake.  She will soon learn how to soothe herself to sleep—a skill she’ll use all the rest of her life.  And in the short-term, you might even get a little more sleep, too!

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