As those of you who've followed along for a while know, Asher was not a fan of sleeping flat as a newborn. So, we tried the swing and the bouncer until we discovered the Fisher Price Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper. It was a dream come true, and so affordable. I had major - and I mean major - anxiety about having to transition him to his crib. When he'd sleep longer time periods, I couldn't really celebrate because I knew we'd be back at square one when crib time came.
I received the email below from a fellow Rock 'n Play momma. In the hopes that maybe our lessons learned can help someone else, I'm going to respond here on my blog. So, this is the story of our transition to the crib.
I am a new mom myself - Emily was born July 7. I saw that you used the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock N' Play sleeper with Asher too - Emily loves it and has slept in it since we brought her home. We're thinking it's getting to be time to move her to the crib -- how did you do it with Asher? Just cold turkey or was there some kind of easier way (not sure what that would be exactly :))? Any tips to ease the transition? When did you stop swaddling? Emily loves to be swaddled too and doesn't sleep well without it...always something isn't it?!
First things first: Signs that it was time
I knew the time had come when Asher seemed to truly enjoy tummy time and floor time. He had begun to roll over and I had confidence that when placed in his crib, he'd get himself situated. And, perhaps, be comfortable enough to sleep all night? Maybe, just maybe?
I don't think I would have tried it before this time, because I had a feeling he'd sleep best on his tummy and as a new mom, I needed to know he had the strength to roll over. That would help me relax my worries with regards to SIDS.
Also, when I began to pick him up in the mornings, the first thing he'd do was stretch his legs out. Stiff as a board. For several seconds. Poor thing was cramped, I suppose. I started thinking, uh oh. Now may be the time.
This was right around four months of age.
Rolling along: Naptime
I began my journey by placing him flat for naps. This meant little rest for me during the days because it meant shorter naps. But, I'd rather him get used to it then than during the night. So, every day for one nap I'd place him in his pack 'n play. I elevated one end of the mattress with a rolled up blanket. This wasn't a total disaster, so after a few weeks I prepared for 'the' night.
He'd roll around during playtimes, but rarely during naps. I think because it was a shorter time period. I wasn't sure what he'd do overnight, but it was time to try since he seemed less and less comfy in the Rock 'n Play Sleeper.
Making the leap: Cute snoozer
The first night, I was blown away by just how darn cute my kid looked sleeping in his pj's in his pack 'n play. (We used this in our room at the foot of our bed to make getting up easier on us.)
I started out placing him on his side. I talked to his pediatrician that assured me if he was rolling, then he'd be fine. To let him sleep however he chose. But, she said not to put him down on his tummy - to let him wind up there on his own.
I know my kid and he wasn't going to happily go to bed for the night on his back. So, I put him on his side. He'd snooze there for a few hours. And then, he'd roll to his belly and stretch out. Ah, the kid wanted to stretch out!
Usually, he'd roll again from tummy to back and wake up pinned against one side of the pack 'n play because he only knew how to roll in one direction. Amazingly, we only had a few waking sessions of placing him back on his side. Literally, from night one, he was sleeping four or five hour stretches.
It seemed too easy. And it was. Pretty soon a growth spurt or something happened and he began waking every three hours again. We are slowly - very slowly - going back to six to eight hours stretches of sleep. Momma's sleepy.
And finally: Pack 'n play to crib
We decided to move to the crib. He didn't sleep as well in it, which surprised me because crib mattresses are way softer than pack 'n plays. I think he felt like he was in this huge, vast space after being snuggled up in the Rock 'n Play Sleeper and then in the smaller space of the pack 'n play. (That's a mouthful of 'n plays, isn't it?)
My mom suggested rolling up a large quilt and looping it behind and around him to create the illusion of a smaller space. This gave me a near heart attack because of all the SIDS warnings, but we have an Angelcare monitor loaned to us by a sweet friend. So, I took a deep breath and did it. I'd snuggle him on his side with his back to the blanket. This seemed to help.
After a week, I went and bought bumpers since I was pretty convinced he did, in fact, need to feel enclosed and secure. I tied in the bumpers (again, the SIDS warnings had me petrified of these things) and took out the quilt. It seemed to work.
And now: Update from today
As I type, Asher's squirming around in there. We've had our setbacks. He's learned to sit up and forgot how to roll. Or, I suppose he's just choosing not to. So, we are up more than ever helping to position him when he wakes up 'stuck'. We let him cry and fuss in five minute increments. If after 10 minutes he's still awake and crying, we go and help him out by moving him. During the day, I urge his nanny to keep him on the floor as much as possible so he can 'remember' how to roll. So far, he's not rolling in the crib. Babies are so puzzling!
Have I bored you all? I realize that was a long response. Isn't this the most detailed post ever? I'm sure I've left out something, though.
Oh, and about the swaddling. We stopped swaddling around two months. I never swaddled him during the day because I didn't want him so attached to it that it was tough to transition him. If you are swaddling your little one during the day, I'd start trying to do without for daytime naps. That seems like a good first step.
For us, the next step after swaddling was long-sleeved convertible gowns from Carters. They went up to size nine months and snapped either into a gown or into legged sleepers. We would put him in a onesie with socks, and put this gown on top at bedtime. It allowed him to be in a little cocoon of gown coziness in his Rock 'n Play Sleeper. He really seemed to love those gowns. When he outgrew them, we were making the move to sleeping flat. So, it all worked out nicely. (The best deal on these can be found at the outlet store.)
Ok. I'm going to stop rambling now. Let me know if you have any follow up questions. I do hope something up there helps you out. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!
Update September 2012: We have now been through transitioning two boys from the Rock and Play sleeper to the crib. Here's the second part of that story: Transitioning to the Crib Part 2.