How to Transition Your Baby From a Pack and Play to a Crib

Note: Your child may move from your room to their room at any time. Usually, this happens around your child’s first birthday, but that’s not necessarily the case for all families. In this post, I use the term “baby” to represent your child, regardless of whether they are an infant or a toddler.

Setting up the nursery was one of my favorite things to do during the last stages of my pregnancy. Painting the closet doors pink, adding art work, and setting up the crib made my soon-to-be-mama heart burst with pride. I would go and sit in Olivia’s room staring at all of the books, clothes, and diapers and dream of what could be.

It seems like it’s a right of passage. It’s one of the last steps parents take to prepare for their new family member — creating a space for their new bundle of joy.

The reality? Many parents don’t use their nursery right away.

When we brought Olivia home from the hospital, she stayed in our room in a bassinet and then her pack and play for over a year. So much for the Pinterest-worthy nursery we put so much effort into.

There are many reasons parents may choose to keep their babies in their room — either out of necessity or preference. In fact, the AAP recommends that babies stay in their parents room for at least the first 6 months, ideally the first year.

Regardless of how long your baby stays in your room, once you’re ready to make the transition to their own room, you may find it to be a challenge, depending on how your baby adapts to change.

Here’s the thing: your baby is used to your room. They’re used to their pack and play. And although we may think that moving them to a new room and a new bed isn’t a big deal, it really, really is. And doing both at the same time? It can make it extremely hard for your child to sleep soundly through the night.

But hope isn’t lost. Your child can successfully transition to their own room and into a crib. It just takes a little planning and some consistency.

Read below for my top 3 tips for transitioning your baby out of the pack and play in your room to a crib in their own room. These are the exact tips I give my families when we work on moving their little ones into their own space, and I know they’ll work for you, too.


Tip #1: Set up baby’s room with the same elements that are in your room.

If your room has a fan going throughout the night, make sure baby’s room has a fan going. Nightlights, humidifiers, sound machines — all things that you want to think through and put in baby’s room if they have been in your room.

I know these things seem small and we might think a baby or young toddler wouldn’t even notice their absence, but you’d be surprised. At this point, these features have become part of your child’s sleep environment — they all contribute to the temperature, the smells, and the sounds of the room. 

If it’s not possible to have those same things in your baby’s room, that’s okay! Just know that it may take a few days to adjust to the change in environment and your baby’s sleep may be impacted.

Also think through the light situation. If your room has minimal natural light but baby’s room has huge windows, you’ll want to make sure to cover the windows with black out curtains. Consider how much light is coming through the windows, also. Your bedroom may be located on the side of the house where the sun rises, and baby’s room could be on the side where the sun sets. Taking the steps to evaluate your house set-up will ensure baby is as comfortable as possible in their room.

Tip #2: Spend time in your baby’s room together.

You want your child to feel loved and secure in their new room, especially if they haven’t spent much time in there before. Before you transition your baby to their new room, infuse as much love as possible in there together.

You can move toys into the room and play in there during the day, read stories together in the evenings, and just have fun together, both during the day and at night.

Depending on how old your child is, you may also choose to add pictures of the family on the walls to help them feel like you’re there with them.

I’d recommend spending a few hours a day in the room for a week before transitioning your child into the room.

Tip #3: Take the transition slow.

Some children handle change like champs, and others need some time to warm up. If you want to make the transition cold turkey, go for it!

If, however, your child doesn’t handle change well, then take the transition slow.

Start by moving the pack and play into your child’s room and letting them sleep in there for a few days until they are used to the environment. Then you can move them into the crib and let them adjust to the new mattress and crib.

In general, children take about 3 days to adjust to a new environment (but again, it depends on your child). Plan to dedicated at least 1-2 weeks until your child is fully comfortable and back to sleeping comfortably.

If you make the switch and your child hasn’t adapted back to their normal sleeping patterns in their new room, consider one of our support packages so that we can evaluate whether there are any other sleep associations your child is relying on. Sometimes, there are underlying factors we don’t really think about that impact our child’s sleep, so we can look at what’s going on and fix it.

In Conclusion

Change can be hard for children of any age. Even something simple like changing a bed or changing the room they sleep in is actually a huge deal and can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep.

To make the transition easier, consider the following three tips:

  1. Make sure your baby’s room has everything your room has. Sound machine, fan, essential oil diffuser — you get the idea. Also make sure your child’s room doesn’t have things that your room doesn’t — excessive lighting, a fan if they aren’t used to it, etc.
  2. Spend time in your baby’s room together. Your child is comfortable in your room because it’s something they are used to. They’re used to reading books in there, snuggling in your bed, and waking up in that environment. If they haven’t been doing those things in their new room, it can make the transition much harder. Do activities together in your child’s room to help them feel loved and safe in their new place.
  3. If your baby doesn’t adapt well to change, take the transition slow. Start by moving the pack and play into the room and letting them sleep in the pack and play (something they’re used to) until they get used to their room (a place they aren’t used to). Then you can move them into their crib once they are used to their room.

Above all, stay consistent while implementing the changes and you’ll all be sleeping well soon.

Let us know your thoughts if you try any of these tips during your transition! Comment below!

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I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

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