5 Tips for Transitioning From Crib To Bed
Pretty exciting, right? Your not-so-little baby is ready to move into a toddler or “big kid” bed! You may be feeling ready for this transition but perhaps you’re not quite sure how to “switch” them over to their new sleep space. This can definitely be an exciting new milestone, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you ditch the crib for good.
Moving them before they are ready may create new sleep challenges: You don’t have to rush this transition. Sleep experts say that toddlers can sleep in a crib until closer to 3 years of age and really, the longer you can keep them in the crib, the better! Understanding the concept of staying in bed, takes a certain level of cognitive ability and if we make this change too early, your sweetie may not be able to fully grasp this idea, which may lead to many night wakings ( or even wandering around the house in the night!) If your child doesn’t have the verbal skills to understand big bed rules, we may want to put off this transition until they are mature enough to handle this new freedom.
Many toddlers sleep well in the crib because they feel contained and safe: Unless your toddler is literally climbing out of the crib or his body physically needs more space than the crib can provide, many toddlers find comfort and security when sleeping in a cozy and confined crib at night. Although they may be saying “look at me! I’m a big kid” in the day, they may still do well with sleeping peacefully in the crib throughout the night.
If your child is climbing out of the crib, you have a safety concern that needs to be addressed: Definitely if your toddler is able to climb out of the crib (or is repeatedly attempting this), it is time to move her into a big kid bed.
1) Timing: Make sure your there are not any other big changes going on: If your toddler is in the middle of potty training, if you are expecting a new baby, if preschool is about to begin or if you have moved into a new house, moving your toddler into a big bed is likely not a good idea at this time. When it comes to any and all big changes in your child’s life, try not to add new changes into his life on top of ones he is currently facing. NOTE: It is not a good idea to move toddler into a bed as soon as a new baby arrives- having a new sibling is a HUGE life change for your toddler on it’s own. Best to wait a few months until toddler is used to life with another little one taking Mom and Dad’s time, or make the transition far before the sibling arrives. When transitioning after the arrival of new baby, keep toddler in the crib and have NB in a bassinet or side sleeper in your room for the first few months- then switch baby to crib and toddler to bed when everyone is ready.
2) Safety: Carefully make sure the room is safe. Your child will now be able to move around the room unattended, so we must make sure that things are safety proofed within the bedroom. Your child may also wander out of the bedroom, so make sure to secure tops of stairs, keep cupboards with chemicals and cleaning products locked/baby proofed. If you are concerned about the safety of your child wandering around the house consider installing a safety gate on the child’s door or use a baby proof saftey door knob to ensure they remain safe in their rooms throughout the night.
3) Time to Shop: Involve your child and let them be a part of the process! Let your toddler help you pick out a mattress and some fun sheets that they seem excited about and even a new cozy pillow. Keep in mind, all they need at this point is a mattress/blankets/pillow and box spring (not necessarily a fancy race car/princess castle bed) which will keep them nice and low to the ground and also make it easier for them to get in and out of. Point is, let your child have a a role in purchasing the items for their new sleep environment.
4) Set up the Bed: Set up the bed so that it is positioned in the corner of the child’s room with the head and side of the bed flush against the wall. Not only does this provide some extra safety for your toddler, but it may also provide the feeling of being a bit more confined and cozy, similar to how they felt in the crib. You can also put some extra pillows on the floor for protection if your child were to fall out- or you can instal a simple safety rail to prevent this.
5) Discuss the New “Sleep Manners”: Assuming your toddler is old enough to engage in a basic conversation, have a discussion with your child about their new sleep environment, using a positive and fun tone. Go over the sleep rules or “sleep manners” in which they must follow throughout the night. For example: “You will be sleeping in your new special bed tonight, so we will do our regular bath, jammies, books and a BIG snuggle and then you will sleep in your bed all night long. In the morning when the sun is up, we will come in and get you and start our day together! NOTE: If your toddler is already having anxiety around the idea of becoming a “big kid” don’t refer to the bed as a “bid kid bed.” Simply call it a “special bed” if they are feeling nervous about no longer being a “baby” or becoming a “big kid.”
Hope these tips and suggestions are helpful when you decide to ditch the crib (or pass it on to a new sibling) and introduce your child to a big bed.
Peaceful Sleep to you all.