Reader Question: Getting a 7-Month-Old Nursing Baby into Her Own Crib?

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I guess I’ve been posting a lot on parenting stuff and the tricks and trials of motherhood because I’ve been getting questions! Thought I’d throw this one out there for others to respond as well.

I love your blog! Any tips on getting a 7 month old breastfeeding baby to sleep in her crib for naps and at night. She is waking every two hours at night.

Thank you!

Oh, Marcie! I feel your pain! We moved Lilleigh to her crib at 3 weeks old because she was too noisy. Little did I know that this would help us out later in not having to face the crib transition. Who knew? Anyway, she started sleeping through the night early on. Consistently between 3 and 4 months. But at 7 months, she started waking up early in the morning (like 5ish) to nurse. I’m not really a fan of cry-it-out (power to you, if you are), so I just caved and would nurse at this time. I figured going 10ish hours without eating was still awesome, so no complaints. She still does this by the way – something I’m hoping to wean from or better yet, that she’ll grow out of… Anyway I found that on nights when she woke at 5, rather than in the 7 o’clock hour, I could put her back down to sleep for another few hours. I guess my point in that is a) All mommas are struggling with some baby-related issue, whether it’s sleeping or nursing or what not, and b) You have to choose your battles. For me, that feed wasn’t/ isn’t worth fighting because then she sleeps till 8:30 AM (lately)! Who can argue that?

All this to say, I can’t relate verbatim, but I feel like all of parenting is trial and error, from one phase to the next. And none of it is easy! Rewarding, yes. And a definite blessing. But certainly not easy. I’ll throw out a few thoughts and then open it up to readers.

  • I am a firm believer that breastfed babies smell their mommas. They’re like vampires. 🙂 (Joke – ha, ha) So getting her out of your bed will probably help her to stop waking up at night, but getting there is tricky I’m sure. I am guessing you’ve been co-sleeping? While I don’t know exactly what the magical formula will be for you (hopefully readers will help), one thing I have come to realize is that with little ones, consistency is key! So whatever you decide to do to get her to fall asleep in her crib, be consistent about it.
  • Also we have found that a bed time routine sets the stage for sleeping. Ours is fairly simple – pajamas, new diaper, nurse, books, song and prayer, crib. We always put Lilleigh down awake. We did this from early on because I really wanted her to be able to self-soothe. For naps, our routine is very similar – eat lunch, new diaper, book, song, crib. I wanted a routine that would be easy to travel with and easy for someone else to imitate. So if we go to a friend’s house for dinner, we can do this same routine there very easily and put her in a pack n play, or if our sweet neighbor and amazing friend Tristyn is babysitting (like tonight! Yea!), she can easily follow it and Lilleigh will understand it’s bedtime. The key for us was starting the bedtime routine at just a few months old. We did this both at our house and when we were at friends’ homes early on. We also would start the routine (back when we began) sometime in the 6 o’clock hour, rather than at 6 PM on the dot. Again, it was a flexibility thing for us. I wanted Lilleigh to be able to stay up a little later if needed. Flexibility is taught. Well, that’s my philosophy anyway.

I’m not sure if that really answered your question. I went on a couple of tangents there. Let’s see what others have to say.

What advice do you have for Marcie?

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  1. I would start at nap time with the transition. And then move on to night time. Also babies do have an incredible sense of smell so for a bit you could at night literally take the shirt that you or your hubs have been wearing straight off your back and lay your little one on it. The more stinky the better. After about a week of two of consistency she should be set! Also she can feel your emotions so if you are anxious that she’ll wake up or this won’t work. She’ll be anxious too.

  2. Allison Weaver says:

    I agree with the above comment…we started transitioning our 3rd child from our room to his own room and a crib during naptime and after a week or so we started trying for nighttime and it worked seamlessly!

  3. We started putting our son in his crib at one month, before that he was in a bassinette. He slept pretty well through the night until about a week ago. He would wake up after I had put him down after about 10 minutes every time. Our bed time routine was the fresh diaper, PJs, a book, soft music and nursing, he would be asleep when I put him in which may be where we went wrong. I had read not to do that but when I put him down awake he would always cry so I valued sleep over sleep training. I’m going to try the shirt trick tonight and see if it works.

  4. Our son is 8 months old and we have the same dilemma. We have a 3yr that we never had a problem with she was a great sleeper. im not sure about you or your child but as far as our son goes he has problems with reflux and the doctor now thinks that my breastfeeding supply is not enough at night and that might be why he keeps waking up. We have started giving him a few ounces of formula at night after he breastfeeds to make sure his belly is full.

  5. My little one was having a hard time staying in her crib recently as well. What has worked for us is we have established a small less than five minute routine that the daycare also uses for nap time. If she fusses, we let her cry it out for 15 minutes, if after that time she is still going we go in lay her back down (she is usually standing in the corner closest to the door!) rub her back and do it again. and again if needed. If she is still awake after an hour we will pick her up. The first time she cried for an hour, the second time about 20 minutes, and since then she hardly fusses for a minutes. We do the same thing at night. We are still nursing and at night I bring her to bed with me to eat, but when she is finished she goes back to her crib. The first night time back to crib was very hard, but so worth it! Good Luck!

  6. My second basically co-slept with me for the first 3-4 months. I found that once we did transition to her crib, she didn’t wake up NEARLY as often to eat. Something about being right next to me just made it so convenient (like every 2 hrs. at night). At first we transitioned to her pack n play which was just right next to the bed. Honestly, the hardest part about this transition was just keeping myself awake enough to move her to her bed when she was done eating. (I fed her laying down on my side). If I could manage to do that, she would stay asleep longer than if she was in the bed with me. Once we got that transition down, we moved her to the next room. Oh, I should mention that her pacifier was a huge help in getting her to go back to sleep in the pack in play. I remember laying in the bed next to her with my arm hanging over the side of the pack n play to hold her paci in her mouth for her. She was still pretty young. For a 7 month old, I would say this might be a little trickier, since the habits are so engrained by that point. I have let my girls cry (they still do sometimes) when i put them in bed to go to sleep. I used to feel this was harmful to them, but have changed my mind. They just don’t like it, and are expressing themselves. I would say there would have to be some protest and crying involved for a 7 month old. Really though, they will adjust a lot more quickly than you think. You just have to be consistent about whatever method you choose for a week or less, and they should be over the hump of it. Good luck!
    Holly Lungwitz recently posted..Abuelo and Abuela are here!My Profile

  7. Start with nap time like others have said. Have you considered moving her crib into your room? We transitioned baby girl into her crib at about 4 months but I set up her crib right next to me so when she was upset about being in there, I could pat her, sing to her, talk to her while staying half asleep myself!
    I guess another question is why are you wanting/needing to get her to sleep in her crib at this point. I think we’re guessing you’re sleeping sharing now so that’s why I suggested moving to co-sleeping.

    Babies don’t have the reasoning skills to know you’re ever coming back, so when you’re gone, you’re pretty much gone to them. Baby steps of separation.

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