The transition from crib to toddler bed is a momentous occasion. Your child isn’t a baby anymore. He has entered into toddlerhood and is ready to be a big kid. There’s no set time for making the move to a toddler bed, but most children do make the transition sometime between 18 months and three and a half years old. It’s often best to wait until your child is closer to three, since many younger kids just aren’t ready for a bed – just yet.
You may make the decision to move your toddler to a bed for the sheer reason that he’s physically too big to sleep in the crib any longer, or he is just too darn active for the crib. Moving to a toddler bed may also be a necessity for potty-training purposes. Your child needs to easily get out of bed to go use the toilet. If you’re pregnant and there’s a baby on the way, this may be another reason that you need to transition your toddler from crib to bed.
Whatever the reason you’re moving your toddler to a bed, the transition won’t be completely drama-free. Some children are ready for the change, and others are more resistant. Every child is different. It is common, however, for first-born children to have a harder time moving to a toddler bed. Second and later-born kids tend to have an easier time, because they want to be like their older brother or sister.
How to Make the Transition to Toddler Bed Drama-Free
Moving from crib to toddler bed is an adjustment for the entire family. Here are a few parenting tips to help make the transition less stressful for your toddler and for you:
1. Place the new toddler bed in the same place as the old crib. This gives your toddler a sense of familiarity, and might make the move easier for your child. You should also consider letting your toddler sleep with his old crib blanket – even though it’s probably too small. This is another thing that gives your child a sense of comfort. To prevent your toddler from falling out of bed, make sure that you put up a guardrail.
2. Ease into it. If you’re using a convertible crib, allow your child to see you remove the front panel. This might make the transition to toddler bed less drastic to your child. You should also let your toddler choose the new sheets and comforter. Allow him to pick his favorite character, and get him excited about this transition. He is now a big kid! Celebrate the fact that he’s no longer a baby!
3. Celebrate the move. To help make the transition to toddler bed easier, you may want to throw a “Big Bed” party for your toddler. Invite close friends and family to the party. Make your child feel like it’s a birthday of sorts. He is graduating from being a baby to being a big kid with his own big kid bed.
4. Have a reward system in place. If your toddler is having a difficult time with the transition to toddler bed, you may want to create a reward system. He will receive a special treat, or another reward – like getting an extra hour on the playground, or two bedtime stories instead of one – for sleeping in his bed all night long. You may also want to keep up a calendar and allow your child to put a sticker on the nights he stays in bed.
5. Be patient. For most kids, moving to a toddler bed takes time. It might take your child a week or two – and even longer than that – to get used to the new bed. You might want to leave the crib in the room during this adjustment period. This sense of familiarity may help some toddlers.
Is Your Toddler Ready for a Bed?
Every child reacts differently to the switch to bed. Some children will make the switch pretty easily. Sometimes, however, some toddlers just aren’t ready for a bed yet. If your child is still upset after a few days of being in a toddler bed, you may want to bring back the crib until he is more ready.
Other signs that your toddler is not ready for a bed include the following:
- Your toddler is normally a great sleeper, but all of a sudden, he is having a really hard time falling asleep at bedtime.
- Your child gets out of bed very often during the house and wanders around.
Don’t punish your child is he simply isn’t ready for a bed yet. Sometimes, taking a step backwards – temporarily – is the best thing for your child at that point. You can always try introducing the toddler bed at a later date. Patience is the key.