Q&A: transitioning co-sleeping 9-month-old to crib

Erin writes:

"We are unintentional cosleepers/bed-sharers with our 9 month old daughter.  She was in an Amby Baby Hammock until about 6 months, when she started turning over in the hammock, making it unsafe.  The crib was in another room (it has since been moved to our room), and she was a frequent night waker, so she ended up in our bed.  For a while it was great, until the crawling/pulling up/talking developmental spurt attacked at the same time as hardcore teething - now she still frequently wakes up, but she is also practicing everything in her sleep, resulting in crappy sleep for all.  We'd like to transition her to the crib but she acts like it is electrified... She can be in a deep, limp-limbed sleep, but as soon as she lands in the crib, her eyes fly open  and there is no more sleep for several hours.  She is not a great napper, and we have only recently been able to get her to nap on a blanket on the floor (crib still results in the end of the nap)...

Any suggestions? We've considered getting an Arms Reach co-sleeper for nighttime (she's only 18 lbs, so not too close to the weight limit), and focusing on getting naps to happen in the crib - but will that just prolong the inevitable?  Should we wait until she's older?"

Yeah. This sucks. You're exactly in the middle of a sleep regression/developmental spurt/growth spurt/teething nightmare/whatever you want to call it. That means that it's the exact time you need her to be in her crib, but the least likely time you'll have any success moving her. If it was even just one of these things, and you had an awful lot of Benadryl (I'm kidding! Sort of.) you could try it, but there's just way too much going on in her teeny little body for her to be able to stop herself from waking up and bouncing around like that kangaroo in the old Sylvester cartoons.

The Arms Reach co-sleeper might work, but it might not, so I wouldn't buy one new. See if you can borrow one from someone, or look for a used one on Craigslist (you can flip it again there if it doesn't work out). Also bear in mind that the sides of the Arms Reach are not very high, so unless it's up against a wall in the corner, she could pull up and vault herself over the side onto the floor. (I had ours wedged up against a wall, a dresser, and a unit of drawers, so it was un-flipp-out-able.)

Realistically, nothing you do is going to get her to sleep through the night right now, and the crib is a pipe dream. That doesn't mean that she might not go easily into the crib in a month. It just means that right now is not the time to do it. So your strategy right now should focus on how to get you and your partner the maximum amount of sleep within the constraints of having the wiggling trout in your bed. You might want to consider alternating nights in the bed with her, with the winner getting to sleep all night on the comfort of the couch or in another bedroom. Or you might want to divide the ngihts in half, so you can each get 4-5 hours uninterrupted a night.

Whatever you do, though, bear in mind that this will not last forever. Try to get through another week, and she may be on the other side of the developmental spurt, or she may be through the physical milestones, and you may be able to get her into the crib. Try to take it a few days at a time, and one of these days she'll either go into her crib or go off to college, and your problem will be over.

As for naps, do whatever allows her to sleep. The better she sleeps during the day, the better she'll sleep at night, so if she'll sleep on the floor at least she's sleeping.

Does anyone have stories of hope for Erin about babies who were tough sleepers for the first year but turned into easy sleepers later on?