How To Transition A Toddler From Crib to Bed
Transitioning your child from a crib to a toddler bed is a HUGE milestone for both you and your little one. There’s no hard and fast rule as to when to make the switch, but for most kids it’s somewhere between 18 months and 3 ½ years old. If your toddler is breaking out of their crib every night and appearing in your room for a lovely middle of the night visit, if they’re verbalizing and telling you their ready for a big kid bed, or if you have a baby one the way and your child is showing signs of being ready, it may be time to start the transition from a crib to a bed.
When it comes to making the big switch, it’s really best to follow your child’s lead. If they are still content in their crib at 2 ½, then by all means leave them in their crib. But if they’re showing the signs that they’re ready, feel free to make the change. The most important thing to remember is to try to make the transition as smooth as possible, this is going to be a big deal to them (and you!), but one you both can handle! In order to move your child from crib to bed, you want to make sure your child feels safe, secure and they understand what this new freedom means!
How to Transition a Toddler From Crib to Bed
Stick to the routine:
One of the best ways to help your child have a smooth transition to a toddler bed is to stick to their bedtime routine. If you can keep bedtime familiar it will help them SO much. A bedtime routine cues their brain that it’s time for bed and keeping it the same whether they’re in a crib or bed is vital to them getting a good night’s sleep.
Check your timing:
If your little one’s life is full of change, hold off on the transition until things calm down. Is there a new baby coming? Is potty training on the horizon? Or a new school starting soon? If so, wait until after the baby arrives, they’ve got a handle on potty training or they’ve adjusted to the new school or whatever the change may be.
Choose the right bed:
This one will depend on your child, the space you have, and your budget. You can choose to go with a traditional toddler bed or a twin bed with safety rails. If you decide to go with a toddler bed, your child’s crib mattress should fit right in the bed frame, so no need to purchase a new mattress! Choosing a twin bed can make a great new sleep space for your toddler. It can really empower them to feel like a big kid, especially if they get to help pick out fun new sheets and blankets! Just don’t forget the side rails! They are installed right on the side of the bed to make sure your little one doesn’t roll off the bed while they’re asleep.
Mattresses on the floor:
This can be a great way to start the transition! You can use either their existing crib mattress or the new twin mattress and stick it right on the floor instead of in a new bed frame. This way it’s closer to the floor if they do squirm their way out!
Read some books:
If your toddler is anything like mine, they LOVE to read books, especially books that they can relate to. A great way to start the transition is to read books about switching to a big kid bed and books about toddler sleep and bedtime and remind your child that this is just like their new bed.
Let them be involved:
Let your little pick out new sheets or blankets. It gives them so much joy to be able to be a part of this big transition. It can also be fun to let them pick out a new stuffed animal or two to join them in their new bed. There’s nothing like new stuffed animals to get kiddos excited for something new!
How about that childproofing…:
Chances are you childproofed your house up and down when you baby became mobile. Now that they’re in a new bed that they can easily get out of, it’s time to reconsider that childproofing and think about what they can get into if they get up in the middle of the night. You may want to think about putting a gate across stairs they have access to, ensure doors to the outside are locked and unable to be opened by your child, and make sure cleaning supplies and medications are locked and out of reach.
Reinforce that bedtime is bedtime:
If your child was used to climbing out of a crib, you may have already dealt with this. A lot of times when a child get’s into their new bed they enjoy the freedom of getting up whenever they want and they will do the back and forth of getting up and down, up and down, up and down until you have to go in and have a stern chat. Reinforce to your toddler that when it’s time for bed it is in fact time for bed.
Get them one last drink of water, let them potty one more time, and give one more goodnight kiss before reminding them that it’s time to go to bed and fall asleep. Let them know gently, but firmly, that it’s time for bed and they need to stay in bed so they can get a good night’s sleep. Use these bedtime visual tools, like a bedtime routine chart and sleep rules to help move bedtime forward!
Give lots of praise!:
Be sure to praise your child for a job well done when it comes to their new sleeping arrangements. A great way to give them praise is a sticker chart! Give them a star on their chart each night they sleep in their new bed all night. Let them earn a fun outing or a special treat. Toddlers love accomplishing new things and LOVE pleasing you, their parents. A sticker chart is a great visual reminder that they are doing a great job at sleeping in their new bed.
Patience, patience, patience:
Remember that this is a HUGE change for your child. No matter what you do, chances are you’re going to get a little visitor sometime after bedtime asking for one more drink of water, one more kiss or some other thing they might need to do to prolong sleeping in their new bed. Stick with the plan and return them back to bed every time without any fun or games. A new bed does not equal free roam of the house and party time after bedtime. If you make the process boring and unfun, they’ll get the idea that they need to stay in bed. You can also try a gate at their door, but if you’ve got a climber on your hands, chances are the gate won’t be much of an obstacle for them.