The crib to toddler bed transition isn't a tough one, but knowing when to switch to a toddler bed will require due diligence.
Before we get into when to make the transition to a toddler bed, here are a few signs that it's time:
- Your child is climbing out of the crib.
- Your child stands too tall and risks falling over the safety rail.
- Your child is potty trained.
- He or she fights with you over sleeping in the crib.
- Your child is asking about a big kid’s bed.
- He or she is okay alone overnight without heavy parental supervision.
If any of these sound familiar, here are some tips to make the transition from crib to toddler bed drama free:
- Make the transition to the toddler bed the focus. Children are resistant to change when stressed. If things like relocation or potty training are taking place, put off the bedding situation.
- Try a convertible crib, allowing your child to switch gradually. A convertible crib can be easily turned into a toddler bed, creating a less drastic change.
- Help your child prepare with books about kids dealing with challenges. If there are older siblings, get them in the mix, especially younger ones who might have some memory of their transition.
- If your child is climbing out of the crib (and bed), take a look at your toddler-proofing. Stairwells should be blocked with safety gates, and windows and doors should be locked. If there are cleaning products, medications or other risks, secure them.
- Maintain as much of his routine as possible. If feasible, put the toddler bed in the same spot as his crib. The idea is to minimize change, exposing him to small alterations in routine.
- The new bed may come with a misguided sense of freedom. Make sure she sticks to bedtime rules. There shouldn't be multiple calls for water, too many trips to the bathroom, or visits to your bedroom.
- Be patient and, if the child roams, take him to bed. Do not treat the behavior as if it's horrible. Let him think this is just an incident and a boring one at that. Negative or positive, the reaction could encourage the behavior.
- Turn the transition into a rewards program. When she sleeps or doesn't roam, give her a sticker. After she accumulates enough rewards, give her a treat like a trip to the ice cream shop.
- Make the first night special. Send him to bed early, but go through the normal routine. He may want you to stick around (hence, the earlier bedtime). Unless you're in the habit of climbing into his crib (we've seen it!), this is not the time to start. Sit with him. Read stories. Tell jokes.
- An incentive might help, like a warm bottle of milk (if she hasn't been weaned) or a spill-free toddler glass. If she has a favorite book, give it to her. Put in a nightlight so that she can see the room is safe.
- The hardest part of the transition to a toddler bed will be an indulgence. Know when to move to a toddler bed and manage the routine, avoid letting the child disrupt operations. Make them understand how important good behavior is and reward it.