Transitioning from the crib to a bed is a huge milestone for our children. I say it is right up there with the first time they sleep through the night, first steps and their first word. You will no longer be lowering them into the crib, but rather letting them climb into bed all by themselves. Leaving you the modest opportunity of tucking them in, if they let you. Cue the water works as the Pull-Ups jingle, “I’m a big kid now” plays over and over in your head.
If you are debating on whether to make the transition or not with your little one, it’s okay to wait. It is perfectly fine to keep them in the crib if they’re happy and not trying to dive out of the crib head first at every opportunity. When it’s the right time, it usually becomes pretty clear that your child is ready for a toddler bed. Some cues are that they have potty trained and need/want to use the bathroom at night on their own or are a master crib hurdler with the skills of a highly-trained acrobat.
Here are my top 4 tips for making the change:
1. Happy 3rd Birthday, you get a big kid bed! Anything younger than two-and-a-half is just too early, in my opinion. Yes, you may know someone that has an 18-month old sleeping in a toddler bed and brags how it solved all their sleep problems. But be very weary, their child may be that exception to the rule or they are being less than truthful about how well it is going. The fact is, very young children just don’t have the cognitive ability to really understand the boundaries and expectations around staying in bed when they can so easily get out on their own. This can make it hard to enforce the rules and creates huge bedtime struggles that may last for a few months or even years.
2. Get them involved. About a month, or at least a couple weeks before the move, start talking with them about moving to a bed. Get your child involved with picking out the new bed and/or choosing new bedding. But don’t make too big of a deal about it, which may start causing added anxiety around bedtime. Also, if they get really excited about the process, it may make it harder for them to settle in and actually going to sleep when the time comes.
3. Make sure you toddler proof the room! Your child may show very little interest with anything in their room during the day, but at night, some become real explorers. Make sure all furniture is secured to the wall, no cords are hanging, outlets are covered and remove all extra toys and objects that you don’t want them playing with at night. Also, if you have a stairway on the same level as your child’s room, you may want to put up a gate, so that they don’t accidentally take a tumble down them if they should leave their rooms.
4. Beware of the “honeymoon” phase. Most toddlers do well with the transition until the novelty wears off. This usually happens after they get comfortable (usually around the three-week mark) then the games start up. The key is to be prepared ahead of time so you know what to do when this happens.
What to do if your child keeps getting out of bed
If the honeymoon has worn off, or if your child just never warmed up to the idea of a toddler bed at all, there are some things you can do.
First, it’s important to be consistent. If your child gets out of bed and comes to find you, take them back to bed immediately. Even if they say they just need a glass of water or another hug or something to eat. Don’t waver on this, or they will be hopping out of bed every five minutes to ask you for something else. Just take them back and if they do it again that night, give a consequence.
You can also offer an incentive to kids for staying in bed. If you child can stay in their bed until morning, then when the clock says 7:00, they can have a prize or a treat. The incentive must be fairly immediate as possible for this age group, or else they won’t be motivated by it at all.
Soon enough your child will become used to the idea of sleeping in a proper bed and will understand that just because there are no bars holding them in, this doesn’t mean they’re free to wander wherever they want at bedtime. Like anything when it comes to parenting, it will take persistence on your part, but before you know it, your child will be sleeping peacefully in their big kid bed.
Do you need help with making a smooth transition? I offer a free 15-minute sleep evaluation to help families find the right solution to their specific sleep struggles. Click here for your Free Sleep Evaluation.
The hardest part when making changes is all the questions and doubt. This is why I support all of my families with professional guidance and support, to ensure a better sleep outcome for everyone. For more sleep tips, facts, studies, events, giveaways and more, Like and Follow Beddy Bye Sleep Solutions on Facebook.
Life is hard when you're not sleeping. As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I teach families how to live a well-rested life.