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Registered nurse Claire Bonneau joins Stuff4Tots to share her expertise about how and when to transition your little one from the snugness of their bassinet to a more spacious crib or Pack ‘n Play.

To crib or not to crib

How does one know when to switch from a bassinet to a crib? Here’s a helpful guide for parents looking for answers about when and how to transition their baby out of the bassinet.

Change happens so fast when you have a newborn child. One second, they are cozy and snuggly in their bassinet — the next, they have already outgrown it. And then the questions start. Should our baby be in a crib? Is the bassinet big enough? How long are babies in cribs, anyways?

Knowing when and how to make the transition from bassinet to crib or pack ‘n play can be a source of stress for many parents. And that’s ok! We created this helpful guide to answer some of the big questions when it comes to transitioning your baby from the bassinet to a crib.

Baby Sleeping Options 101

To start, understanding the difference between a bassinet, crib, and a travel crib is important for knowing when to begin the transition. Each of these products serves a different purpose — so it’s good to know which one best fits your baby’s needs.

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A bassinet is a small, often basket-shaped bed for a newborn baby. They are often kept in the parent’s bedroom during the first couple of months and do not take up a lot of space. They are designed for small babies, as they do have weight limitations.

A crib is a more significant and more substantial option for a baby bed. Equipped with guard rails and a sturdier frame, cribs take up a larger space in a room. They are designed to hold heavier weights as your child grows and can even be transitioned into a toddler bed with mattress and sheets.

A pack ‘n play is a relatively newer sleeping option for babies and toddlers. Meant to be designed for parents on the move, pack ‘n plays are portable sleepers that are safe for younger babies and toddlers alike.

When to Move Your Baby to a Crib

Transitioning from a bassinet to a pack ‘n play or crib can feel like a daunting task for many parents. But, it’s important to note that there are no hard-set rules when it comes to what works best for you and your baby. Following suggestions to have a more successful transition can help reduce stress and discomfort, but there is no “best way” to sleep your baby.

Knowing when it is time to move your baby to a crib can depend on a variety of different factors. Some questions to ask yourself when considering the transition include:

How heavy is my baby?

Like we mentioned before, bassinets are typically built for lower-weight categories. Be sure to check the maximum weight for your bassinet as your baby continues to grow. Bassinets typically hold between 10-20 lbs, so be sure to transition your baby before they become too heavy for their sleeper.

How old is my baby?

There is no specific age that requires a switch to a crib or pack ‘n play, but it is common for parents to consider making a change at around six months old. This is primarily due to weight and developmental stage, but age can still be considered before starting a transition. Learn about the various childhood developmental milestones you should be looking out for as your baby develops, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.

Has my baby outgrown the bassinet?

If your baby is looking a little too snug in their bassinet, it’s time to transition them to a larger sleeping option. It is important for babies to have enough room to stretch and move during their sleep, so be sure that they have not outgrown their current sleeping situation.

How much does my baby move?

If your baby can roll over or sit up, it is time to access the need to transition to a larger and more sturdy bed. Many bassinets have shallow sides that can easily pose a risk for falls in a baby who can roll or climb out of their bed. Using a pack ‘n play or crib with higher edges can help prevent accidents in more active babies.

So, how long can a baby sleep in a bassinet? The answer is different for every family. As long as your baby is safe and able to sleep, there is no rush to make transitions because they hit a certain age. The best way to know when to make a change is to use our questions to guide your decision-making as your child continues to grow and develop.

Tips for Making the Transition Easier

Ok, so we are ready to make the transition to a larger sleeper. How do I get my baby to sleep in a crib?

A great way to ease everyone into the transition is to start with shorter sleep intervals. Getting your baby to nap in the crib is a great way to introduce the new space to them without it feeling overwhelming. With consistency, your baby will become more comfortable with the new sleeper and will be ready to try an overnight sleep.

Using the crib during the day for activities is also a great way to introduce the new space. Using the mattress for tummy time, reading, or even supervised playtime can help your baby become more familiar with the crib or pack ‘n play.

Finally, consider your personal schedule before jumping into a big change. If your family is planning on moving, going on vacation, or has other lifestyle changes going on, it may not be the best time to transition your baby to a new sleep environment.

Putting It All Together

When it comes down to it, baby safety is the most critical consideration when it comes to the choice of sleeper, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. There is no set time that a baby needs to be transitioned into a crib, but it is important to consider many factors that may indicate that they are ready to make the change.

Watching your baby grow and develop is all incredibly exciting. We hope that you can use this guide as a resource when it comes time for your family to make the transition.

Do you have any questions about transitioning your baby to a different sleeping environment? Leave a comment below — we would love to chat with you!

It’s one thing to make sure your baby is sleeping well, but how about you? Check out 7 Tried and Tested Sleep Saving Tips for New Moms

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Claire Bonneau profile picture
Claire Bonneau (RN)

Claire is a registered nurse who now specializes in medical freelance writing. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she completed training to be a certified operating room nurse at one of the largest trauma hospitals in Alberta.

Claire is passionate about everything women’s health, and enjoys educating women about health, sexuality, and wellness. She has always been an advocate for her patients and strives to provide educational resources for any audience. Medical information can be tricky to understand – so Claire works very hard to create accessible and educational content for women!