A child’s life is studded with milestones – taking those first steps, forming words for the first time, and eventually, graduating to a big kid bed. The early stages of growth and development are an exciting time, but change can be difficult for children and adults alike. Making the switch from a crib to a bed may seem like a simple swap, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Preparing for bumps in the road and learning to recognize what your child might be telling you with their actions is key to getting through this time of change.
When should we make the move?
There isn’t a specific age at which you should expect your child to transition from their crib to a bed. Instead, look out for signals that they’re giving you that they’re ready.
Here are some indicators:
- They’re able to climb out of their crib, and they’ve done it more than a couple times
- They don’t physically fit in their crib anymore
- They’ve been potty trained and regularly use the toilet without assistance
- They tell you in their own words
Timing is key
It’s important to make sure there aren’t too many other big changes in the works when switching up their sleeping situation, timing is key. Whether it’s potty training, changing schools or pacifier weaning, it’s best to keep this transition isolated from any other big life events.
If you’re moving your toddler to a big kid bed to make room for another baby, congratulations! If possible, it’s best to do this well in advance of the birth. It’s complicated when there’s a sibling in the mix – you don’t want your firstborn to think they’re being displaced. oWhat you can expect
Since they’re no longer contained by their crib, you can expect your child to hop out of bed and resist going back. You may also start to hear excuses that get them out of bed, and into your comforting presence. Just be patient, and hold firm to your bedtime routine and rules. Don’t punish them for doing this, they’re only reacting to this change in the only way they know how.
Tips for the switch
Although every child is different and may require specific support in order to make this change effectively, there are a few things you can do to involve them in the process, while preparing them for the transition:
- Include them in the decision making process wherever possible. Allowing them to help pick out their bed will create excitement, and letting them choose new sheets will make them feel like they’re in charge.
- Let them spend naptime in their big kid bed a couple of times before making the transition to nighttime.
- If possible, move the bed into the same spot where the crib was. That way, they’re still waking up to a familiar setting every day.
- When the bars of the crib aren’t surrounding them every night, it’s useful to start thinking of their entire bedroom as the crib. Make sure it’s child-proofed for safety, and if the bed isn’t low to the ground, make sure the sides are protected so they don’t roll out.
Making bedtime easier
Consistency is key in the face of major changes, so sticking to your regular bedtime routine will be important when switching your toddler from their crib to a bed. A great way to motivate them is to offer choices when possible – two books or three tonight? Do you want to pick out your PJs? Which stuffed animal do you want to sleep with?
It’s best to resist the temptation to stay in the room until your child falls asleep, even if they insist on it. You might also hear a string of requests that grant them access to you – a bathroom trip, a glass of water or one more hug. If their requests sound genuine, fulfill them, but keep in mind that this can sometimes be an indicator of avoidance or fear.
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