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There will come a time when your baby will have to switch from a crib to a toddler bed. This will probably be when your child has started to climb out of their crib or when you are getting ready to have baby #2.
I personally put off the transition from crib to a toddler bed as long as I could. My little guy started climbing really early so we even resorted to lowering is the mattress in his crib to the floor.
Finally, when he was just over two he could escape that way too and we knew we would be trying for baby #2 that year so we bit the bullet and transitioned him from his crib to toddler bed.
Whatever reason for making this transition, it is always good to plan ahead to help the whole family through this change. It might be a daunting task to think about, but it can be done!
Here’s how you can have a smooth transition from crib to toddler bed:
Set a bedtime routine –
When setting up a bedtime routine, you have to be consistent. Even when you are switching to a toddler bed, use a similar routine to when your child was still sleeping on the crib.
Keep the bed cozy –
Add some blankets, pillow, favorite stuffed animals, and other things that make your child feel safe in their crib as well as feel more comfortable in order to make the transition process more enjoyable.
We let my little boy pick out his bedding (he chose this awesome Lightning McQueen set) so he would be excited about his new bed. We also let him have his baby blanket that he’d slept with since he was little. That acted as his “comfort” item.
Placing the bed in the same area as the crib –
If possible, try to keep the bed in the same spot so that the child won’t feel the change so much. You can also put the bed in their room earlier than the actual move so that they can see the bed and get used to it. This helps them become even more ready for the change.
We put the toddler bed in his room in the afternoon so he could nap on it and get used to before bedtime. This helped warm him up to it.
Keep it positive –
Talk to your child about the change and make it all about him/her. Be open and enthusiastic about it without overselling it too much.
Read books about sleeping in beds –
This is a simple yet effective way of opening up conversations with your kids especially when it comes to big changes in their lives.
Children are also more receptive when they see others their age doing something. Trying to reassure them that a “big boy” or “big girl” bed is much more effective if they can see another child that uses a big bed or even if they can read a book or watch a video of someone their age.
Make sure they are safe and can’t fall out –
This is obviously an important thing and there are many precautions to take in order to keep your child from accidentally falling out:
- Zippered bedding – this type of bedding keeps your child zipped up to their armpits and prevents them from falling off the bed. The brand “Beddy’s” is super popular and they have tons of styles!
- You can try taping a pool noodle on each side of the mattress.
- Toddler guard rails
We personally just had the mattress on the floor for a few weeks until he got used to not having the barrier on the edge. That way if he did fall it was only a matter of inches. Once he got used to that we added the box spring and frame.
White noise/nightlights –
White noise is great for little kids since it produces a calming effect. We used the Sound Spa as our sound machine ever since he was a baby and it has been a lifesaver. You can also get a night light that can project fun lights into the wall which some kids love. Night lights can also help especially if the child is scared of the dark.
Checking in –
We were super lucky in that our little boy transitioned from crib to toddler bed pretty easily. But, if your child is having a hard time adjusting and won’t fall asleep set a timer for 5 minutes and then go back in the room and tuck them in again and let them know that you are just in the next room.
Do this for 10 to 15 minutes until they fall asleep. As much as possible, do this quietly without talking too much.
Another option is to sit outside the room after saying goodnight just to make them feel safe and secure that you are just right there but not exactly by their side.
Preparing the room-
When transitioning from crib to toddler bed you also need to make sure the room is toddler-friendly. Strap all shelves and dressers to the wall. Get rid of potentially dangerous items like chords, low sitting table lamps, and toys that you don’t want your child playing without your supervision.
Remove clutter and keep the pathway to the door clear. Keep a calm and neat atmosphere that can help set up your child for success.
Boundaries and rules –
Let your child know when they can get out of bed etc. and make sure you stick to these rules especially in the first month of implementing them. Don’t cave in- it’ll get better!
Sometimes fear is something that your child will feel when it comes to sleeping alone on a bed. It is important that you don’t reinforce this fear by letting them sleep in your bed instead. You can acknowledge that fear but reassure them that everything will be all right and that their bed is a safe place.
Sleep regression –
This is a normal thing to expect with your child. It is just like when your baby learned how to stand up or roll over in their crib. It is something new and with change seems to come disrupted sleep. Usually, this is just a phase that won’t last long so hang in there!
Don’t potty train and transition from crib to bed at the same time –
This can be overwhelming for the child to try to do things one at a time. Do potty training after your child has already been accustomed to his/her toddler bed. For us, we didn’t potty train until about a year after transitioning from a crib to toddler bed.
However, we did wean him off his pacifier at the same time. For us, it was easier to just knock it out at once (I’ll take one sleep regression over two!) and it worked out okay!
Transitioning from a crib to toddler bed is a big milestone in your child’s life. You can help ease the transition and make it easier for everyone by being prepared and taking the necessary steps to ensure success for you and your child.