How does your little one feel about her crib?
If your child's baby days are over, you're probably thinking about retiring the crib in favor of a big kid bed. According to Dr. William Sears, most kids transition from the crib to a toddler bed around age two. But this kind of milestone is far from a numbers game.
Transitioning your little "big kid" to a bigger bed is all about timing, safety, and enthusiasm. Here are some tips to help you make the switch successful.
Getting ReadyTransitioning from crib to a bed won't happen overnight. If you were hoping for a spontaneous switch, you'll be disappointed. Like all other parenting phases, the crib-to-bed switcheroo takes some planning, some talking --and hey, maybe even a little bit of good old-fashioned bribery.
Talk It Up
Do you have some sales skills?
If yes, then it's time to dust off those marketing chops and sell the toddler bed idea. Make the upgrade into an adventure. Bring up the topic now and then, and see how receptive your child is to a change like this.
Most toddlers can't wait to grow up, so tell your little one that saying bye-bye to the crib is just for big kids like him.
Think up some fun ideas about how to celebrate the move. Invite your toddler to brainstorm, too. Maybe a big-kid-bed party can mark the occasion.
Whatever you say, try to keep it upbeat and positive. You want to make the transition a fun event, not a scary one.
Make your talks a two-way street. Your kid should feel comfortable communicating with you about any questions or worries. Honest communication is the best way to be sure you're making this switch at the right time.
Try Some Retail Therapy
Does your child get excited about having a say?
Kids love choices, and yours is probably no different. Since you'll have to buy some new stuff to redo the room, consider letting your child tag along.
If she can pick out her new bedding, for instance, she'll feel more in control of the situation. It's a small say, but it can make all the difference. Besides, if your child gets to pick out a theme or some stuffed animals, they're more invested in the change. More excitement and comfort means a smoother transition.
Look Out For Signs Of Readiness
but wait. Stop and take note. Are you sure that your child is ready for the big kid bed?
Though you may want to make the toddler bed transition on your own terms, experts say that transitioning too soon can backfire.
Not all children are ready to leave the security of a crib by age two. In fact, some might not be ready until three or even four years old. That's ok.
Look out for these signs of readiness:
- Your kid is asking to move to a bigger bed
- He tries to climb out of the crib
- He'll happily nap in a friend's toddler bed if given the chance
- He is excited about the big boy bed when you bring it up.
Though you should wait for those signs of readiness, there's one caveat. A crib is no longer an option if your little one climbs or falls out of it. Research suggests that more small children in the United States die from crib-related accidents than any other disasters.
Prepping the Room
Now that your child is jazzed up about transitioning from crib to bed, it's time to prepare the room.
The goal is to make your child's room into a toddler sanctuary. Here's how to make it into the space in your home that your child loves most
Make Sure The Big Kid Bed Is Safe
Remember how vigilant you were about the safety of your baby's bassinet? Aim to pick out the big kid bed with the same care and research.
Before you buy any bed specifically meant for kids, check if it's certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers' Association (JPMA). Look for a JPMA seal somewhere on the product. You can also search if the product is listed on the JPMA website.
Avoid hand-me-down toddler beds, especially if they're a few generations old. A bed with rickety or loose parts can be a safety hazard to your child.
If you have to use a second-hand bed, check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to make sure it wasn't recalled.
Your child's big kid bed doesn't necessarily have to be a toddler bed. For economic or practical reasons, you can make a regular big-person bed safe for your toddler. Just install adjustable rails onto a bed of any size to prevent your child from falling. Also, make sure the bed is reasonably low to the ground. This way, your child can climb on and off independently.
Toddler-Proof the Room
A safe sleeping space for your toddler doesn't just consist of a big kid bed with rails. It's also a room that is little-kid-proof.
Little minds get very curious. At some point, your child will get up and explore the room whether he should or not. Therefore, try to make it a safe space where your toddler can roam around unsupervised.
Here's a brief safety checklist:
- Keep the bed away from windows and heaters.
- If the bed is against the wall, make sure to install rails on both sides.
- Keep all curtains and chords from window blinds out of baby's reach.
- If possible, bolt heavy furniture (like dressers) to the floor or wall.
- Keep dressers and desks away from windows, and make sure windows are locked.
Create a Comfy Sleep Environment
What soothes your child?
Now that the room is safe, it's time to make it into a toddler-centric sanctuary.
If your child has loveys and blankets that comfort her to sleep, they should make the toddler bed transition with her. It doesn't matter if they're made for cribs. It's important that your child has something familiar to snuggle with in the new bed.
Try to make the environment soothing outside of the toddler bed as well. For instance, buy a nightlight with your child's favorite character on it. You can opt for a traditional lamp, or get a wall-socket light that projects soft images onto the ceiling.
White noise machines are great sleep aids as well. If your child is a light sleeper, a noise machine can mask any other sounds from around the house.
Making the Transition
Now that the new room is safe and comfy, it's time to ease your child into this important milestone. This is a huge change for your little one, but you'll find that the adjustments impact the rest of your family too.
check out this simple guide on how to teach your child to sleep in the new toddler bed.
Stick to a Routine
Are you tired of routines?
Your child's not. In fact, recent studies show that toddlers thrive on routines. They take comfort from doing the same thing every day. Daily routines give children structure and comfort. This is especially true when it comes to bedtime.
Make this transition more bearable for everyone by sticking to a routine. If possible, carry over the old bedtime ritual into the new environment.
In fact, if your child doesn't really like change, keep everything the same aside from the bed. You might even want to put the new bed where the crib used to be.
While it's smart to establish a basic bedtime routine, use your best judgment when determining how much change your child can handle. Some kids thrive on a new environment, while others need as little change as possible.
Set Some Boundaries
Your child wants boundaries.
It may not seem like they do, but kids thrive on structure just as they thrive on routines. With a big kid bed comes more freedom, and your child is bound to test your limits.
Before long, he will realize that getting out of bed is now very easy. So why not get up and play after lights-out? You will also have to contend with a midnight visitor, since most little ones would rather snuggle in with their parents than sleep alone.
It's best to set limits early. For instance:
- Stay with your child while he falls asleep, but don't lay down with him.
- Leave the door to the big kid bedroom ajar, but sit out in the hall instead of near the bed.
- If your child pays you a midnight visit, gently put him back in his own bed.
When you're tempted to ease up on your boundaries, remind yourself that gentle structure is king. The more flexible your boundaries, the longer this transition will take.
Practice Patience And Empathy
Stick to your boundaries, but stay loving and kind. This milestone is tough on your little "big kid.
Transitioning to a toddler bed can be taxing on you as well, but keep in mind that frustration will only make it harder. Thanks to your empathy and patience, your child will develop enough confidence to sleep soundly again.
How Is Your Transition Going?
Is your child loving his new big kid bed, or are you still dealing with some growing pains? Tell us about your transition from crib to toddler bed. Comment below with your own tips and tricks.