safe sleep in crib on flat firm mattress no extras

Safe Sleep: Tips to Transition Baby from Rock’n’Play to Crib

The Rock’n’Play Sleeper by Fisher-Price has been the topic of interest for many parents this week. This product has been advertised as a sleep space for babies, with some of the boxes even stating it is meant for “all night sleep”. However, the design of the Rock’n’Play does NOT meet safe sleep guidelines.

I have seen a lot of debate and confusion regarding the recall issued on Friday, April 12th. A week prior, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning. The warning focused on not using the Rock’n’Play for babies who can roll over or are 3 months or older. This sparked concern from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Pediatricians all over the country, because this warning does not cover all the real risks of using the Rock’n’Play for baby sleep. 

The biggest concern and safety issue with the Rock’n’Play is that babies should NOT sleep on an incline. An incline, like the one in a Rock’n’Play puts babies at risk for positional asphyxiation. Babies’ necks are not strong enough to handle the incline. The incline causes the risk of compressing their airways and reducing their oxygen levels. Which can, and has, lead to death for 22 babies in the Fisher-Price Rock’n’Play.

Regardless of your opinion on the recall, the bottom line is the Rock’n’Play is NOT safe for sleep. Safe sleep is important and it matters. I wish we lived in a world where safe sleep guidelines were adhered to as if babies’ lives depend on it. Because, babies’ lives do depend on it.

One of the biggest questions parents have had regarding this recall, is ‘what do we do now?’ 

If your baby is sleeping in a Rock’n’Play, swing, or in another product with an incline, PLEASE read these tips and implement them. Safe sleep matters.

Where should baby sleep?

Babies should sleep on a flat, firm surface without extra padding, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals. This also includes a Dock-a-tot, which should not be used in a crib either. The ABC’s of Safe Sleep say that babies should sleep Alone (in their own sleep space meant for a baby). on their Back, and in a Crib (or bassinet). Cribs and bassinets are held to the same safety standards and when used as intended without adding any extras, are safe for sleep. 

the ABC's of safe sleep

What if my baby doesn’t like sleeping in their bassinet or crib?

If babies have been sleeping in a Rock’n’play (or something similar), sleeping on a flat, firm mattress is a big change for them. So, let’s help make it comfortable and cozy for them.

  1. Use cozy sheets. Super soft cotton, fleece or flannel sheets made specifically for a crib or bassinet are extra cozy to help baby feel comfortable and relaxed. Here are some of my favorites*: BlueSnail Super Soft Stretchy Flannel Fitted Crib Bed Sheet or Carousel Designs Organic 100% Cotton Fitted Crib Sheet 
  2. Warm up baby’s sleep space before laying them down. Use a hot water bottle or a heating pad on the lowest setting to set it in the crib for a few minutes before laying them down. Remove the hot water bottle or heating pad and check to ensure it is not hot, BEFORE laying them down. The warmth can be comforting as they fall asleep, similar to the warmth they feel when being held or when they were in the womb.
  3. Wear your baby’s pajamas, sleep sack, or swaddle close to your skin before bedtime so that it smells like you. This smell is familiar and comforting for babies.

What should baby wear?

For babies 2 months and younger, I recommend swaddling babies. This can help turn on their calming reflex and helps them feel secure like they were in the womb. Here are some of my favorite swaddles: Halo Cotton Sleep Sack Swaddle or the Swado Swaddle (use code bonniesleep.swado at check out for 10% off!)

It is recommended that babies stop being swaddled by the time they are 8 weeks old for safety concerns. For babies older than 2 months, I recommend using a Zipadee Zip as a transition from the swaddle. It keeps their arms contained, which helps prevent wake ups from their startle reflex. It is also safe for babies who are rolling!

If your baby’s startle reflex is not very strong any longer, I recommend going straight from the swaddle into a sleep sack. This provides extra warmth and is comfortable for babies to sleep in. Halo brand are my favorite sleep sacks. They are made in very large sizes and have multiple different types of material to pick from to ensure your baby is warm enough during sleep. Check out the Halo Micro Fleece Sleep Sack or the Halo Cotton Sleep Sack.

It is recommended to sleep at a temperature of 68-72 degrees. Follow your baby’s lead in terms of if you use fleece footed sleepers, cotton footed sleepers or a onesie underneath their swaddle or sleep sack to keep them warm.

Make baby’s sleep space DARK!

Baby’s room should be dark, dark, dark! I mean coal mine on a moonless night kind of dark. Tape garbage bags over the windows, cover them with tinfoil, whatever you have to do. Newborns and infants are not afraid of the dark. They lack the cognitive capacity to imagine scary things in the dark. However, they are very responsive to light. Light tells their brains that it’s time for activity and alertness. Then the brain secretes hormones accordingly, so we want to keep their nursery pitch black during naps and bedtime. When baby has a reaction to their newly darkened room it is usually related to the change itself, not being scared of the dark.Here are some of my favorite blackout curtains: Portable Blackout Shades with suction cups (Bonus! You can put these up anywhere!) or for a more permanent solution, we love the Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains.

Use white noise

There is always some noise that can wake up baby. Noises will startle babies easily and wake them up, so a white noise machine is a great addition to your nursery. 

Keep white noise on throughout the duration of baby’s sleep. The white noise serves as a great sleep cue, something that babies recognize happens when it is time to sleep. Plus, sound is one of the strongest sleep cues for babies.

Here are some great white noise machines: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine (Bonus! This one can be used for years and years to come. It has a night light and time-to-wake settings in addition to white noise. This HoMedics White Noise Machine is a bit more cost-effective, but also great.

Prevent overtiredness

When babies get overtired it can make it much harder for them to fall asleep. You might think that an exhausted baby is more likely to sack out for a full night than one who slept all day. But it is actually just the opposite. When baby misses the “tired phase”, we refer to it as being “overtired”. Their bodies start to kick back into gear, which makes it much harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. When baby gets a decent amount of sleep during the day, they are far less likely to miss their sleep window. Limiting the awake windows between sleep to an age-appropriate length is important to helping baby be able to fall asleep easily, especially in a new situation.

awake times by age, safe sleep

What happens when baby wakes up?

Try to comfort your baby using soothing techniques, possibly including feeding if you baby still eats during the night. Try to put baby back into their safe sleep space drowsy but awake so that they are aware they are in their crib when they fall back to sleep (this can help with future wake ups, especially for babies 4 months and younger.)

If baby isn’t going back to sleep, rock her back to sleep before putting her back into her crib. This may create sleep props that will need to be removed in the future, but transitions are hard and if this is what you need to help keep your sanity while keeping baby sleeping safely, then do it. You want to quickly move away from rocking or feeding baby to sleep at wake ups once baby is getting adjusted to their new sleep space. Continuing to rock or feed to sleep can increase the frequency and amount of wake ups going forward, which is frustrating for everyone. But in the first few days of this big transition from a Rock’n’Play or other inclined sleeper, the most important thing is for baby to be sleeping safely in their firm, flat crib.

Having a support system stay with you, if possible, to help through those first few nights can also be very helpful. 

Remember learning to fall asleep is a skill but safe sleep is worth it

If babies have been sleeping in a Rock’n’play, sleeping on a flat, firm mattress is a big change for them. They will likely have a reaction to this change, but know that babies tend to adjust to changes quickly as long as we stay consistent so that they know what to expect. Implementing the tips above help this transition go as smoothly as possible. Try to be patient and give yourself and your baby a little grace and understanding. Change is hard, but safe sleep is worth it. 

If transitioning baby into a safe sleep has completely derailed sleep in your house, please don’t wait to reach out. I would love to help you get baby sleeping well and most importantly, safely. I offer free evaluation calls to chat through what it would look like for us to work together to get baby sleeping well and safely. You can schedule your free call here.

Cheers to healthy, happy and SAFE sleep!


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