Deciding where a young baby should sleep depends on several factors, the most important being your own beliefs and values. Some families have children sleeping in their room for years; others want them in their room from the start, and then there’s everything in between.
If you want to move her to her room, rest assured, two months is not too young to sleep on her own in the crib. However, it is too young to expect her to sleep through the night. If getting up and walking to her room for feedings will make you more tired than you already are, you may want to wait a bit for the big move.
When you decide to transition your little one to her 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 bedtime and naptime routines.
You might also want to gradually get her used to the crib by starting with naps and then 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 cannot sleep through the night without feeding 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 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 to nurture 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!
Baby Nursery FAQs
Next up, try a few of the following strategies to get your baby to sleep in the crib:
- Put her down drowsy.
- Stall before checking in.
- Stay the course.
- Don't rely on car seats, swings or slings.
- Up the playtime.
- Stick with firm surfaces.
- Use a swaddle or sleep sack.
- Check the temperature.
While every baby's sleep needs are slightly different, a typical 2-month-old sleeps a total of 14 to 17 hours a day, including four to six naps. Day-night confusion should be subsiding, and you may see the baby settle into an irregular pattern of 60 to 90 minutes of awake time followed by 30 minutes to two hours of napping.
Bedtime in newborns is naturally late, usually around 9:00 pm or later, but it is important to start moving the bedtime earlier, around 6/8 weeks. By two months, the baby's last nap should be ending by 6:30 pm. Bedtime should be around 6:30-8:30 pm and should occur about 1-2 hours after the last nap ends.
As far as naps go, you're probably looking at two or three a day. Some babies can sleep up to eight hours at a stretch at night, but most will still be waking once or twice to feed.
It's nearly impossible to have a set schedule at this age since nap lengths are so unpredictable. However, you can help regulate your baby's sleep habits by aiming for a consistent wake time each morning. Capping individual naps to no more than 2 hours can also help ensure sufficient sleep around the clock.
Sleep In Infants (2-12 Months)
What To Expect
Infants sleep between 9 and 12 hours during the night and nap between 2 and 5 hours during the day. At two months, infants take between two and four naps each day, and at 12 months, they take either one or two naps. Expect factors such as illness or a change in routine to disrupt your baby’s sleep. Developmental milestones, including pulling to standing and crawling, may temporarily disrupt sleep.
By six months of age, most babies are physiologically capable of sleeping through the night and no longer require nighttime feedings. However, 25%-50% continue to awaken during the night. When it comes to waking during the night, the most important point to understand is that all babies wake briefly between four and six times.
Babies who can soothe themselves back to sleep (“self-soothers”) awaken briefly and go right back to sleep. In contrast, “signalers” are those babies who awaken their parents and need help getting back to sleep. Many of these signalers have developed inappropriate sleep onset associations and thus have difficulty self-soothing.
This is often the result of parents developing the habit of helping their baby fall asleep by rocking, holding, or bringing the child into their bed. Over time, babies may learn to rely on this kind of help from their parents to fall asleep. Although this may not be a problem at bedtime, it may lead to difficulties with your baby falling back to sleep on her own during the night.
Safe Sleep Practices For Infants
- Practice the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib. Place your baby on their back for every sleep, night time and nap time.
- Do not put your baby to sleep on his side or tummy.
- Once your baby can roll from his back to tummy and tummy to back, your baby can stay in the sleep position that he assumes. But always place your baby to sleep on his back.
- Place your baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with slats no greater than 2-3/8 inches apart.
- Ensure your baby’s face and head stay uncovered and clear of blankets and other coverings during sleep. If a blanket is used, make sure your baby is placed “feet-to-foot” (feet at the bottom of the crib, blanket no higher than chest-level, blanket tucked in around the mattress) in the crib. Remove all pillows from the crib.
- Create a “smoke-free zone” around your baby.
- Avoid overheating during sleep and maintain your baby’s bedroom at a temperature comfortable for an average adult.
- Remove all mobiles and hanging crib toys by about the age of 5 months, when your baby begins to pull up in the crib.
- Remove crib bumpers by about 12 months, when your baby can begin to climb.
For additional safe sleep practices for infants, including information and video on choking, making a safe home environment, resources, swaddling and tummy time, click here.
How To Help Your Infant Sleep Well
- Learn your baby’s signs of being sleepy. Some babies fuss or cry when tired, whereas others rub their eyes, stare off into space, or pull on their ears. Your baby will fall asleep more easily and quickly if you put her down the minute she lets you know that she is sleepy.
- Decide on where your baby is going to sleep. Try to decide where your baby will sleep for the long run by three months of age, as changes in sleeping arrangements will be harder on your baby as he gets older. For example, if your baby is sleeping in a bassinet, move him to a crib by three months. Always practice the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib.
- Develop a daily sleep schedule. Babies sleep best when they have consistent sleep times and wake times. Note that cutting back on naps to encourage nighttime sleep results in overtiredness and a worse night’s sleep.
- Encourage the use of a security object. Once your baby is old enough (by 12 months), introduce a transitional/love object, such as a stuffed animal, a blanket, or a t-shirt worn by you (tie in a knot). Include it as part of your bedtime routine and whenever you are cuddling or comforting your baby. Don’t force your baby to accept the object, and realize that some babies never develop an attachment to a single item.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Establish a consistent bedtime routine that includes calm and enjoyable activities that you can stick with as your baby gets older. Examples include a bath and bedtime stories. The activities occurring closest to “lights out” should occur in the room where your baby sleeps. Also, avoid making bedtime feedings part of the bedtime routine after six months.
- Set up a consistent bedroom environment. Make sure your child’s bedroom environment is the same at bedtime throughout the night (e.g. lighting). Also, babies sleep best in a room that is dark, cool, and quiet.
- Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. After your bedtime routine, put your baby to bed drowsy but awake, which will encourage her to fall asleep independently. This will teach your baby to soothe herself to sleep so that she will be able to fall back to sleep on her own when she naturally awakens during the night.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. Parents need sleep also. Try to nap when your baby naps, and be sure to ask others for help so you can get some rest.
- Contact your doctor if you are concerned. Babies who are extremely fussy or frequently difficult to console may have a medical problem, such as colic or reflux. Also, be sure to contact your doctor if your baby ever seems to have problems breathing.
How To Get Baby To Sleep In The Crib
There's a reason parents devote so much time to selecting the right crib: It's where your little one gets much-needed sleep that helps their growth and development. Unfortunately, though, some babies scream and cry whenever you set them in their crib. They might only sleep soundly in your arms, the car seat, or the stroller. It's important not to give up, though, because a crib is the safest place for your infant to recharge.
"After babies hit the 6-month mark, their napping and nighttime habits become harder to change," says Jodi Mindell, PhD, associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Sleeping Through the Night.
And since studies have shown that babies get less sleep and wake more often when they're not in their crib, you have a serious incentive to act now. Learn more about your baby's preferred slumber habits, and get pointers for how to get your newborn to sleep in the crib.
If Your Baby Only Sleeps In Your Arms...
"Young infants understand the world in a very sensory fashion, which is why they find the warmth and softness of your arms so soothing," says Polly Moore, PhD, director of sleep research at PAREXEL Early Phase in Glendale, California, and author of The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program. "Research shows that a baby can tell if she's being held by one of her parents or someone else. She knows what Mommy feels and smells like."
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in the Crib:
Make the crib feel more Mom-like, says Dr Moore. "One reason a baby gets upset when you try to transition him to the crib is the drastic temperature change. He goes from the heat of your body to a relatively cold bed," she says. However, never place a blanket, pillow, or lovey in the crib with your baby because they greatly increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If your baby's under three months, swaddle them, feed them, and ease them into the crib. For babies who are beyond the swaddle, try a sleep sack. If your cutie still protests, stand next to the crib for a few minutes with your hand on their tummy to soothe them, Dr Mindell adds. "A belly rub is fine, but avoid picking her up. It will confuse her." These comforting tips should get your newborn to sleep in the crib.
If Your Baby Only Sleeps In The Infant Carrier...
A carrier or sling is a bliss-inducing trifecta. "First and foremost, there's the chest-to-chest contact. That kind of kangaroo care is very calming for infants," says Dr Mindell. "Add to that the warmth and smell of your body and the motion from walking around." Plus, if your child has reflux, the upright position can make for a happier, less fussy baby. Gravity helps keep stomach acid down; lying down does the opposite.
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in the Crib:
The best way to wean your baby off the carrier, according to Dr Mindell, involves a few tears. "It's easiest to start with bedtime. Put her down in her crib when she's awake but sleepy," she suggests. "Then check on her as frequently as you wish, say, every five to ten minutes.
The goal is for her to fall asleep on her own." And when the crying starts? "Remind yourself that a baby who sleeps is a happier baby," says Dr Mindell. Once bedtime is going well, put your baby down awake for one nap during the day but keep the others, as usual, so they don't become cranky or overtired. Master that siesta first and then tackle the next.
If Your Baby Only Sleeps In The Swing Or Car Seat...
Swings and car seats both involve motion, which is calming in and of itself, says Dr Mindell. The movement is often similar to what it felt like in your belly, and your baby might like the confined, secure space.
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in the Crib:
"Start by eliminating the movement," says Dr Mindell. "Put her in the stroller but don't stroll it. Pop her into the swing but don't swing it. Buckle her in the car seat but don't drive anywhere."
When your babe is used to that, put them in the crib when they're tired but not completely exhausted. "Each step will probably take three or four days, so it's a process," Dr Mindell says. "But be consistent. And try these steps only when you're ready. If you keep changing the routine, you'll confuse Baby and prolong the whole thing."
If naptime sobs have you on the verge of tears, check on your baby after a predetermined amount of time and say, "I guess naptime is over! You must not be sleepy." Once they show signs of tiredness again, you can try the routine once more.
How Should Babies Sleep?
The Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing for at least the first six months or, ideally, until a baby's first birthday. This is when the risk of SIDS(sudden infant death syndrome)is highest.
Room-sharing is when you place your baby's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your bedroom instead of in a separate nursery. This keeps the baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring the baby at night.
While room-sharing is safe, putting your baby to sleep in bed with you is not. Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. The rate of SIDS has gone way down since the AAP introduced this recommendation in 1992.
- Use a firm sleep surface. Cover the mattress with a sheet that fits snugly. Ensure your crib, bassinet, or play yard meets current safety standards.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area.
- Avoid overheating. Dress your baby for room temperature, and don't over the bundle. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Put your baby to sleep with a pacifier. But if your baby rejects the pacifier, don't force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, you do not have to replace it. If you're breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Watch out for other hazards. Avoid items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby's neck and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner. Look around for things your baby can touch from a seated or standing position in the crib. Hanging mobiles, wall hangings, pictures, draperies, and window blind cords could be harmful if they are within a baby's reach.
If you haven't already, start a bedtime routine that will be familiar and relaxing for your baby. Bathing, reading and singing can soothe babies and signal an end to the day. Some babies like to be swaddled (wrapped in a light blanket), which can be done until they start to roll. Be consistent, and your baby will soon associate these steps with sleeping.
If you rock your baby to sleep before bedtime, your little one may expect to be rocked to sleep after nighttime awakenings. Instead, try putting your baby into a crib or bassinet while drowsy but still awake. This way, your baby will learn to fall asleep on its own.
Some babies squirm, whine, and even cry a little before falling back to sleep independently. Unless you think that your baby is hungry or ill, see what happens if you leave your baby alone for a few minutes — they might settle down.
If your baby wakes during the period you want them to sleep, keep activity to a minimum. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. Change or feed your baby and return them to the crib or bassinet.
If your baby is waking early for a morning feeding, some small changes may allow a slight shift in schedule. You might try waking your baby for the late-night feeding at a time that suits your sleep schedule:
- For instance, if your baby sleeps after a 7 p.m. feeding and wakes up at 2 a.m. to eat, try waking the baby to feed at 11 p.m. Then, put your little one down to sleep until an early-morning feeding at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.
It may take a few nights to establish this routine, but being consistent will improve your chances of success.