Having a child can be stressful, no matter if it’s your first or your fourth, because no two children are alike. What worked for one may not work for another. Sure, there are some proven methods of doing things that work, but every child is a new adventure. In this post we’ll look at how long babies sleep in cribs on average and answer some of the important sleep-related questions surrounding babies, cribs, and transitioning through stages of sleeping situations.
How Long Should a Baby Sleep in the Crib?
This question is often asked because many parents want to know how long they can sleep peacefully without waking up in the middle of the night. They also want to make sure the sleeping situation is appropriate for their child’s age. So how long do babies sleep in cribs?
The answer is: it depends on your child’s age and needs, or if you have more than one baby. Babies should be put down for naps when drowsy but not asleep, which typically means after an hour or so of awake time. This gives babies some time to fall into a natural pattern with their internal clock before drifting off. A good rule of thumb is that infants younger than six months old should nap no longer than 45 minutes at a time; older babies may need two hours total (including daytime). Older children are generally ready to transition out of cribs by 18 months to two years of age.
It is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Parents should have an understanding of when their baby needs to be in the crib and what they need for naps as well. There are so many different opinions on how long babies sleep, whether it’s 45 minutes or two hours at time, that there isn’t going to be a clear consensus. If you’re looking for an answer it will be determined by the age and specific situation of your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing from birth through six months because this reduces sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk by 50%. They recommend parents avoid using bumpers and suggest infants always have a firm sleep surface with no soft bedding objects, pillows or other loose bedding. You can purchase a specific toddler bed for your baby to help make the transition easier.
What Temperature is a Baby Comfortable at When Sleeping?
A baby’s body temperature is about 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36.11 Celsius). When they’re comfortable in their crib, place a newborn’s feet to the cool end of your room (such as near an open window or air conditioning vent) for comfort.
For older babies who have passed six months old with good neck control and are able to roll over on their own, find out how warm they like things by tossing a fleece blanket or towel into the crib just before bedtime. If it’s too hot for you after ten minutes then it might be too much heat for them. You should monitor your baby’s temperature the same way you do their sleep pattern to make sure they are comfortable.
What Type of Blanket Should I Use When My Baby is Sleeping?
Blankets should only cover up to the chest area and never go higher than that. Otherwise there is potential risk of suffocation from ingesting fabric.
The right body temperature is important for a baby’s sleep quality. If they’re too cold, their muscles will tense up, and if the room is too warm then they’ll sweat from their own heat, making them uncomfortable as well.
For babies that are still growing, make sure you buy a crib mattress that meets national safety standards to protect against suffocation hazards such as entrapment between the mattress and frame. It’s important to keep the baby warm enough to be comfortable without overheating them. A warm and comfy baby sleeps better.
When Should You Transition From a Bassinet to a Crib?
Similar to the previous crib question, knowing when to transition from a bassinet sleeping arrangement to a crib will depend on the age and situation of your child.
If you’re looking for guidance about how long babies should sleep in a crib or bassinet before transitioning to their own beds, there is no definite answer. It’s going to vary depending on what works best for your family. We recommend consulting with your pediatrician about when it would be appropriate. It’s good to monitor how your baby sleeps and whether or not they can sleep uninterrupted for short or long periods of time. Just like with advice about crib sleeping, your individual child will be different so it’s important to figure out your situation and seek professional advice.
A sleep sack is a good option if your child is not ready for a crib. Be sure not to use crib bumpers or other objects inside the crib with the baby to reduce the risk of suffocation. A crib rail to prevent rolling is acceptable so long as it is positioned correctly and not a danger of injuring the baby.
When Should You Transition From a Crib to a Bed?
Some experts recommend transitioning from a crib to a bed at 18 months old. Others say that it’s okay for your child to sleep in their crib until three years old, or even older if they’re still sleeping well and are happy with the arrangement.
Depending on the age of the baby, the changeover can be more difficult. For instance, around the age of two if a baby is transitioned to a bed there may be issues with bedwetting until the child is fully toilet trained and comfortable with the sleeping situation. It may also increase childcare duties during the night depending on how well the child sleeps in general and whether they enjoy their own bed.
The best way to transition your baby from a crib or bassinet is to do it gradually. Start by putting them in the spot where they’re going to sleep at night and see how long they’ll stay there without crying before you move them back out of their bed into the bassinet for naps. The idea is not that your child should be staying in one space permanently, but rather getting used to being able to put themselves back down after waking up during nap time.
Eventually work on reducing the amount of time they spend in other places until eventually all naptime can happen only in their room with no need for any security objects such as blankets and pillows (even if infants are still sleeping face-up). Once this occurs, you can start to transition them from a crib into a bed.
This is actually an earlier milestone than the one that most pediatricians recommend, but we believe that it’s important for children to be able to sleep in their own space without any props so they’ll learn how to put themselves back down when they wake up and won’t rely on parents or caregivers as much. Babies may still need some help going back down at first if this has been an issue throughout your child’s life, just make sure not to use anything more than gentle pressure with your hand, like squeezing under the armpit or patting gently on the bottom. When infants are old enough (around three months) some will take short naps while lying face-down.
How To Transition Your Baby Into Their Own Bed Before They Reach Their First Birthday
If you’re considering transitioning your baby into their own bed before they’ve turned one, it’s important to know that the changeover will be a lot less difficult if they have already been sleeping in a bassinet. For instance, some parents find that babies who are transitioned from a crib or bassinet enjoy waking up in their new environment and prefer sleeping on their back as opposed to rolling onto their stomachs, which increases the risk of SIDS.
It’s also worth noting that there might be an adjustment period after adding another element such as putting them into bed with other siblings who may not particularly love sharing space. If the first child is only going to sleep for short periods at night (or needs lots of naps) and the sibling is an older child, there may be some resistance to sharing space.
A baby needs plenty of sleep in order for their brain development to continue at a solid pace, which means that you should think about how much they have been sleeping before deciding when it’s appropriate to make them transition from a crib or bassinet into their own bed.
However most experts recommend waiting until your baby reaches 18 months old before transitioning them off of sleeping in a cradle. For instance, once your little one has reached 18 months old they are able to sit up unsupported and will most likely not roll over while asleep, making it safer than if they were still very young.
Is Co-Sleeping a Good Option?
If you are concerned about safety, then co-sleeping may not be the best choice for your baby. Babies sleep better on their own than they do while being held or rocked to sleep, and waiting until they’re 18 months old all but eliminates this concern completely.
Though there are some studies that suggest co-sleeping does improve the quality of sleep, it’s still not a good option for everyone.
Maintaining your baby’s crib as their primary sleeping space is the safest way to go and can be done from birth with no risk whatsoever (provided you make sure they are always on an approved mattress).
However, if you’ve developed safe sleeping habits and a sleep routine that ensures your baby is able to sleep comfortably while held or sleeping together, then it is a viable option for some families.
How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need at Night?
One of the most important things as a parent is to make sure your baby is getting enough sleep.
The first few months, all babies need about 16-18 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day without any interruptions from feedings or diaper changes. As they get older and start sleeping in longer chunks, it’s okay for them to have 12 hours with some daytime naps. But don’t let their schedule push you into trying to keep up.
If you’re feeling exhausted because they’ve been awake for too long then just go ahead and put them down. The more time that goes by before bedtime, the harder it’s going to be for your child’s brain waves to slow down so they can rest properly at night.
How to Develop Safe Sleep Environments for Children
Place your child to sleep on his or her back, with a firm crib mattress that fits snugly in the crib.
Use room temperature as needed and avoid any covering over your infant’s head (such as blankets) while sleeping.
Keep all objects out of reach and off surfaces near where an infant sleeps – including pillows, toys, mobiles, etc. That includes you. It’s not safe to lay down next to your baby when they’re sleeping because it can easily lead to suffocation or strangulation if anything is pushed into their face by accident. Always use caution when picking up your baby from under arms or legs. Never carry them upside down.
Developing a Sleep Routine
Beyond creating a safe sleep environment, it is also important to create a safe sleep routine for your baby to follow that helps them prepare properly for sleep, whether at night or during naps.
Maintain a regular schedule of going to sleep and waking up. Let your child have naps during the day, but limit them to no more than 30-45 minutes in one sitting
Use soothing techniques such as singing, soft rocking, or slow gentle movements when putting babies down for bedtime. This helps babies associate these behaviors with feeling safe and secure.
It is best not to watch TV because it can be too stimulating before bed time.
It may take a while to develop the routine as your baby may not stay asleep or feel comfortable at first, but developing a routine will make the sleep process much easier down the road.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
SIDS is characterized by the sudden death of babies and infants due to improper and unsafe sleeping conditions. This can be caused from a variety of factors, many times unbeknownst to the parents. That’s why it’s always a good idea to speak with your pediatrician about best sleep practices and to monitor your baby’s sleep patterns to watch for signs of any problems.
Babies who die from SIDS are typically sleeping on their stomach, face-down. They may also have been put to sleep using unsafe bedding materials such as soft mattresses or pillows and blankets (especially if the baby was over six months old). Sometimes they were in an adult’s bedroom rather than a separate room for children, which can increase the risk of SIDS even if your child is less than one year old.
The other thing that increases your baby’s chance of developing this condition is sharing a bed with you, something experts say should not happen until at least 18 months old.
Tips for Preventing SIDS
While we’ve already covered some of this information, we’re putting this section in specifically to address what to do and what to avoid to ensure your child has a safe and comfortable sleep and lower the risk of SIDS.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, even for naps.
- Put the crib in a separate room and stay near enough so you can hear them if they wake up or make noise.
- Make sure there are no blankets, pillows, or other soft surfaces that could cause suffocation — such as bumper pads or bedding with fluffy fabric. Use only sheets made of cotton flannel or a very tight weave, which will allow air to flow through but not create any potential for entrapment around their body. If using an electronic monitor ensure it is placed outside the crib area where it cannot interfere with breathing safety. Never put anything over the baby’s head.
General Baby Sleeping Tips
We’ve covered a lot of information about how to make your baby comfortable, transitioning from one sleep position or space to another and how to keep your baby safe. Now we’re going to provide some general sleeping tips for particular situations.
Tips for Sleeping With One Baby
Try not to feed your baby before putting them down if they’re going to sleep for six hours or longer. It might lead to trouble with digestion later on when they wake up hungry again. Feedings can be done much less often than usual as long as you know what your child needs based on their age and weight. For example, most healthy full term infants over four months should only be fed every four hours.
If you’re the only parent able to sleep with your baby, then do so and try to give yourself a break during the day by taking naps or doing something relaxing for fifteen minutes when they go down. If possible, let trusted family or friends babysit so you can have some time to yourself.
Put your baby on their back at all times, even if they’re getting older and more mobile as time goes on and rolling around is becoming easier than just laying there in one spot. Babies should never be found face-down no matter how short of an amount of time because it can lead to suffocation. Tummy time is a big no-no regardless of the situation.
Tips for Sleeping With Multiple Babies
- Keep any pets out of the room.
- If there are two or more babies in a bed, monitor them to ensure neither is on their stomach. This will help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Consider a separate crib for each baby if you have the space.
Tips for Swaddling Your Baby Properly
Make sure your swaddle has no holes as these could allow your baby to unravel from the swaddle and cause entrapment — especially if you’re using bumper pads or bedding with fluffy fabric. Use only sheets made of cotton flannel or a very tight weave to allow maximum air to circulate and prevent overheating.
Place your baby on their back, with arms swaddled gently across the chest so that there is no dangling fabric around the neck. Tuck in any loose material at the bottom of the diaper to avoid it from slipping up between legs and causing discomfort when moving limbs for feeding. The blanket should be tucked tightly under one arm (like a “taco”) without restricting hip movement or tangling in their digits, as this can become a problem when they learn to roll over.
Keep in mind that the safest sleep position is on their back. Never use a pillow until your child can independently lift their head up from lying flat on their tummy. This is around when they turn one year old or so.
You also don’t want anything under your baby except for the fitted sheet, so make sure you read instructions about what’s recommended, as some companies have different recommendations based on how soft or firm the mattress may be. It’s best not to put any blankets inside of the crib unless it has been specifically labeled and approved by an agency like The American Academy of Pediatrics because these could pose dangers such as suffocation if pulled too close around them while sleeping, despite being swaddled tightly.
It’s hard to answer the question of how long do babies sleep in cribs, bassinets, or other sleeping situations, since it will depend largely on your own baby and their needs, but as long as you follow all current safety standards and best practices your baby will be able to transition to the next stage of sleeping with little difficulty. We hope we were able to help answer some questions. For more crib and baby bed information, keep browsing our site.