You’re thinking about transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed. But you’re not sure if you should? And if you do, you’re wondering the best way to go about it?
Ask yourself a few questions:
1) Is my child maximizing the weight limit on their crib?
2) Is my child climbing out of the crib, in spite of having the mattress in the lowest position?
3) Is my child pottying at night?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, it might be time to consider the big move outside of the four barriers which keep your child contained during their sleep!
The first suggestion: keep them in their cribs as long as possible. 3 years old is actually a very appropriate age for a transition to a bed. Why? They’re just older, less impulsive and better able to understand instruction, rules and cooperation. Sometimes the transition involves a lot of cooperation! As well, that child will have more enthusiasm for growing up and being a big kid by then. The transition can be a lot more seamless when the child is completely on board.
Here’s some of top tips for planning a seamless shift from crib to bed:
Build A Good Basis: If you’re having some sleep difficulties in the crib, it likely is not going to get better with the transition to a bed. Ensure you have a healthy foundation for sleep in place BEFORE moving your child from a crib to a bed.
Plan Your Approach: Some kids transition quickly and easily. They’ll see the bed one day and will be able to have a great sleep in it right away. Some will need a big lead up time of weeks or even months before they’ll feel comfortable. Consider the disposition of your child and how quickly they adapt to change and gauge your approach from there. Focus on building enthusiasm and keeping the experience positive.
Role Models: Older family members or friend’s children who’ve already made the transition are excellent role models. Introduce the idea of a big bed and how “you’ll get to sleep in a bed like this too when you get bigger!”. From there, you’ve planted the idea and can continue to cultivate the thoughts of growing out of the crib and graduating to a bigger bed.
Sleep Manners: This might be a good time to introduce any “sleep manners” you might have. Manners are like rules, but with a more encouraging tone. Keep them positive too by emphasizing what your child can do versus what she can’t do: use “lay in bed quietly until we fall asleep” versus “don’t get out of bed.”
Age appropriate choices: Kids are enthusiastic when they get to be part of the decision making. Involve them in selecting a bed, mattress and/or bedding/linens. Being part of the choices helps them feel grown up and in control. This doesn’t mean letting them loose at PBK and telling them to pick out whatever they want. It means narrowing it down to a couple choices you could live with and having them select from there.
Safety First: You’ll need to be extra diligent about any hazards in their room. Hanging cords from blinds, window guards (or locked windows), covered outlets, shelving/furniture secured to the walls, remove hazards from closets, etc… They will be able to easily get out of bed and inevitably they will explore. Make sure they’re safe.
Keep your baby monitor. I also suggest locking your exterior doors too, just in case you’ve got a mini Houdini.
Depending on the size of the bed you’re introducing, you might need bed rails if your child moves a lot during their sleep. You can always eliminate those at a later date.
What to Expect: The biggest issue I see with kids who transition to a bed: children who can get out of bed any time they like, and do. Some children wouldn’t even consider getting out of bed (thank your lucky stars if this is your child!). But some can and will give you countless curtain calls. Kindly and firmly remind them of their manners by and lead your child back to bed. Every. Single. Time. It should improve quickly and the novelty of getting out of bed independently will begin to wear off.
Above all other things, be consistent. As I’m sure you’ve experienced: if you bend the rules, so will they.