We may have differing opinions in most areas here at The Moms At Odds… but there is one thing we are completely in agreement about: We have a love-hate relationship with the Rock N’ Play.
The “love” comes from the fact that all babies slept AMAZING in it. Babies that won’t sleep on any other surface will sleep, well, like babies in the Rock N’ Play.
Oh but there’s a dark side to that love too. The most hated aspect to the Rock N’ Play is how terrible it can be to wean off of it.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.
We’ve got a lot of amazing tips in this article, be sure to pin it now so you can easily come back to it later!
The Heaven-sent Rock N’ Play
The Rock N’ Play used to be the single most recommended baby sleep item, and for good reason:
- The hammock-style design hugs baby’s sides and creates a very soothing, cozy environment, most similar to being held.
- It’s relatively small so it can easily fit in the parent’s bedroom.
- The incline makes it the perfect choice for infants suffering from reflux as it allows gravity to help keep the stomach contents in place, therefore decreasing or eliminating the discomforts associated with reflux.
- A curved bottom design allows you to gently rock your baby to sleep (or even in mid-sleep if they begin to stir or fuss)
- It is ideal for travel as it folds up almost completely flat. Also a great idea to have for grandma’s house since it can be stored and put away so easily.
- There are many add-on features available to better sooth baby, including: music, vibrations, and autorocker.
Believe me, after using it a few times, baby is hooked.
An important note: there is some controversy as it’s not technically designed for overnight sleep, however many feel comfortable using it beside their bed for the first few weeks to months. We encourage you to discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
Update 4/10/2019 – the American Academy of Pediatrics has just urged the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the Rock ‘n Play. Once again, direct safe sleep questions to your pediatrician.
The Fast Method
Go cold turkey. Say goodbye to the Rock n Play and don’t look back.
While being fast, this method can also be rough.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve avoided this until you absolutely have to transition right now. If you’ve waited until your baby is rolling, it’s time to ditch the Rock n Play and the swaddle all at once.
Without having time to safely transition slowly, plopping baby in a crib without their usual comforts can be a sleep disaster. Not gonna lie, this method can be miserable. Luckily, there are some transitional products available to help make this a little less painful:
Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit
Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is designed to help transition out of a swaddle. The thick material keeps baby from startling themselves awake and gives that cozy feeling of the Rock n Play. Despite its thickness, the fabric is very breathable so baby doesn’t overheat.
This was an absolute life saver for us with my first. The very first night he went from waking every 20 – 40 minutes back to twice a night. He loved that puffy suit and so did I!
The only drawback is that it has a relatively small window for use. It is only designed for back sleeping so it shouldn’t be used if your baby can roll over in it. It is not safe for tummy sleeping.
I should note that because the thickness reduced his ability to move, my son was able to roll over outside of the suit long before he could roll while wearing the suit.
The Zipadee Zip is another swaddle transition item that many parents rave about. It’s basically just a fabric bag that your baby zips in.
The material creates some resistance against their flailing limbs so they shouldn’t startle themselves awake as easily.
We decided to try out the Zipadee Zip recently with my second, but we did not have quite the same immediate success. Every baby is different, so it’s difficult to truly compare. His sleep did improve.
Prior to the Zipadee Zip, we would start in the crib and after several hours of no one sleeping we would inevitably break down in desperation and relapse back into the Rock n Play each night. With the Zipadee Zip we’re all getting at least some sleep and staying in the crib. So that is a total win!
While, I’m still not sure if the Merlin Magic Sleep suit would have made for a more effective transition, the Zipadee Zip has some other benefits.
The Zipadee Zip is less restrictive than the Merlin Magic Sleep suit so it does allow your baby more movement and it is safe for baby to roll and sleep on their stomach. This also means that the Zipadee Zip can be used longer.
As an added bonus, the Zipadee Zip also comes in tons of adorable prints.
Related Post: Exhausted? Considering Cry It Out? It’s OK.
Related Post: Why I Didn’t Let My Baby Cry It Out… and You Don’t Have to Either
Extra Pro-Mom Tip: whichever method you choose, start with naps. You can gauge how well your method is going to work in a low-risk setting. One bad nap won’t be the end of the world or cut into your precious sleep. You can also hope that a few bad naps will make them tired enough to sleep better at night, haha.
The Slow Transition
Once we had become accustomed to the longer chunks of sleep that were graciously given to us by the Rock n Play, I wasn’t about to ruin it all.
I knew I had to figure out a way to transition my babies out of the Rock n Play without sacrificing any amount of the ever-so-precious sleep we had achieved.
I consulted numerous books, blogs, and other moms. After trial-and-error + two kids later, I have found the perfect method!
One of the keys to success is to transition them as early as possible. Preferably while you’re still swaddling.
Don’t stop reading if your baby is almost a year old and hasn’t been swaddled since week 5 – you can use this method too! It’s just easier if you start early.
This was the biggest difference between my kids. We transitioned by first at 5 months and my second at 2 months.
Let me tell you, it was a lot smoother at 2 months.
Part of this is due to the fact that at younger ages they’ve developed less of an attachment to the Rock N Play (just by the sheer number of months they’ve used it).
The other part is that they’re still often swaddled at younger ages. Swaddling makes it easier to create that cozy environment that the Rock n Play provides for them.
Ok but now let’s talk method. The concept of a slow transition is easy – it starts by mimicking the Rock N Play environment as closely as possible and then deconstructing it piece-by-piece.
Another quick (but important!) note: Remember that best sleep practices are to have your baby on a flat surface with nothing else in the crib. The method I am about to describe goes against that. Always trust your mama instinct and discuss any sleeping concerns with your pediatrician.
The first night of “The Transition” (*cue dramatic music*), you want to take the entire fabric piece of the Rock N Play off of the setting and place it in the crib. Like this:
Then, use infant body support pillows on either side of baby under the Rock N Play material to keep them snug.
After they’re sleeping well like this, the slow transition continues over the span of a few weeks in this order:
- Step 1: Slowly pull the wedges further away from baby each night so they’re slightly less “hugged”. Continue until you are no longer using the support pillows at all.
- Step 2: Slide the bottom fabric of the Rock N Play down (towards baby’s feet) slowly until they are barely resting. For now, leave the head piece/cushion underneath their head.
- Step 3: Slide the head piece/cushion up (towards the top of baby’s head) until they are no longer resting on it.
**If they are still swaddled, be sure to keep them swaddled throughout the entire process
And there you have it! A slow, smooth transition that will *hopefully* guarantee to get your child sleeping in their crib as beautifully as they did in the magical Rock N Play.
Be sure to join our mailing list for other parenting tips and discussion. Also don’t forget to share this with a mommy who is thinking about transitioning her little one.
When it comes to the topic of sleep training, we’ve got you covered too! The Moms At Odds wrote an entire post debating the pros/cons of sleeping training.