Transitioning Your toddler To The “Big Kid” Bed
For toddlers, transitioning from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a bed is just one of many milestones. While this may seem like an exciting leap from baby to the big kid for you, or the thought of it absolutely terrifies you, your toddler may feel differently. Whatever the emotions that accompany this great leap, here are some tips to make the transition smooth and worry-free. A new bed means new rules, new freedoms, new bedtime and nap-time routines, and potentially, new fears, and new fun.
Make The Move
If a child is comfortable in a crib, there's no reason to move to a big kid bed — just because your child turns 2, or even 3, doesn’t mean it’s time to vacate the crib. In fact, it’s best to wait until your toddler is at least 2 to transition to a big kid bed, but the closer your child is to 3, the better. The main point is to wait until your child shows signs of being ready.
You also don’t want to transition to a big kid bed as a reaction. You want it to be planned out. Even if your child climbs out of the crib you don’t have to move to a bed immediately. Moving a kid to a big bed just because they climbed out of the crib can be viewed as a punishment, which will be faced with resistance.
There's no need to spend weeks prepping your toddler for his new sleeping arrangement, but you do need to set expectations before you make the switch. Removing the crib without warning might be traumatic for a child who is not anticipating that the place where he slept for the last two or more years will be suddenly be gone.
Give it at least a few days to sink in. A few days before you transition from crib to bed, have a talk with your child. Say, ‘We’re going to put you in a bed now, and that’s a big deal, but there are some rules we need to follow by being in the bed.'
There’s nothing like a new milestone to throw a toddler off balance. Make sure that you have a well-honed bedtime routine long before you make the crib to bed transition. Keep the routine exactly the same, right down to the number of stories read to the continuous music or white noise machine. The only change should be the actual bed. Maintaining consistency ensures safety and comfort for your child. Try not to travel until your child has truly adjusted to the new bed.
If you have a new baby on the way
If your toddler must vacate his crib to make room for new baby, consider either making the switch 8 weeks prior to your due date, so that your toddler has ample time to adjust or borrowing a second crib (or using a co-sleeper or pack and play) for the new baby for the first few months. Make your child feel excited and not pressured to to share his precious sleep space.