Hey- I want out of here ! This is the message your toddler will send – one way or another – when she’s ready to wave goodbye to the big crib and say hello there to her big-kid bed. Your little one might actually verbalize unhappiness, displeasure, or more likely, simply climb out of the crib like my daughter did. One evening after she had gone to bed, we heard a little bit of noise in her room. A few minutes later we heard thump, thump thump and there she was standing in front of our door, smiling and very proud of herself.
So, what do you do now?
First, resist the temptation to move her too early. Most of the experts recommend putting them in the kid bed around age 3. Unless your child is climbing out of their crib, like my little one did, or needs a bigger space than a crib can provide – her body is growing at an amazing rate – it’s better to keep her in the crib, which allows her to feel safe.
This way, your child can feel comfortable taking their giant developmental leaps during the day but still regress to the security of their old crib at night.
Moreover, until age 3, toddlers are very impulsive, and your child’s difficulty in understanding and being able to follow rules or directions (like staying in their bed all night) can make sleeping in a bed more challenging. If you transition to a bed before age 3, you can plan on waking up to a little visitor next to your most nights.
However, when the time comes, you need to help your child transition easily and smoothly to sleeping in a bed. To do that, you need to follow certain steps.
1. Create a safe environment: You will need to safety proof your child’s room and any areas close to their room that she may be able to visit in the middle of the night. Secure the top of stairs, the windows, and any furniture that can easily be climbed and knocked over. It would be even better if you can install a safety gate at your child’s door. You can install a night-light in her room to help orient herself and avoid injuring herself.
2. Pick the mattress: Go to the store with your child and let your child help you choose the mattress or bed. With safety in mind, all you need is a twin-size mattress and box spring and some safety rails for the side. Most toddler beds are low to the floor however you should adjust the height of the new bed if it is not, as it will need to sit low on the floor for some time until your child gets used to it. All you need is some fun new sheets, some special pillowcases and you’re all set.
3. Disassemble the crib together with your little one: Once the new bed comes home, ask your child to help you to take down their crib. By doing this, your child will feel part of the transition process and she will also be able to say good-bye to the crib.
4. Set up the big-kid bed: Put the bed in a corner of your child’s room so that the side of the bed and the head of the bed are flush against the wall for protection, then put on the safety rail on the side of the bed that is exposed. Your little one will feel safe this way, just like they did in their crib.
5. Explain the bedtime routine: If your child is verbal before the first night of sleeping in the big bed, go over the bedtime rules with her. Tell her that he is a big girl now who needs to understand that when we go to sleep at night, we only wake up when the sun is nice and bright. There is also bedside night lights that can turn a different color when it is time to get up. For example, the night light is blue when it is time to stay in bed and sleep and it turns yellow when it is time to get up. This night light can be a very good way to teach your little one to stay in bed until it is morning. A friend of mine uses it regularly for her son and it is a big success.
6. Do your bedtime routine: During the first few nights your child is sleeping in her new bed, take an extra 10 minutes of reading time together or just spending time with her to make her feel comfortable in her new environment. It is most important to make your child feel safe. It may take a few weeks for your child to get used to this new routine and their new bed. If your child seems excited about their new bed from the very start, you’re one of those lucky people whose child has made this transition easily.
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