Is your little one ready to make the leap from the crib (or your bed) to their very own big-kid bed? Watch out for the signs and learn handy tricks to ensure an easy move for both bubba and mama.
When should children start sleeping in toddler beds?
There’s no right answer for when a child should make the switch from crib to toddler bed. While some kids are ready from as early as 18 months, it may take a little longer for others to make the “upgrade”. Studies show that most children make the transition during age two to four, depending on their physical and emotional development. So don’t rush it!
Watch for signs such as your child’s attempts to break free of the crib on a daily basis, their requests for a bigger bed, or physically outgrowing the crib. If the crib rails reach your little one’s chest while standing, it may be time for an upgrade – before they accidentally tumble out.
With that being said, this process is a big move for your little one – big kid rules, freedom and routines abound! But with new experiences come the potential of new insecurities and fears. Navigate a smooth navigation with these tips and tricks.
Choose the right time. Don’t introduce the new bed to your little one when they’re already experiencing other changes in their life such as potty training, having a new sibling, or even enrolling into school. Too many changes can be overwhelming to routine-thriving toddlers.
Talk to your child about it. Instead of doing the ol’ swop-it-out-when-he’s-not-realising switcheroo, prep your little one for his new sleeping arrangements a few days prior to the big shift by explaining exactly what’s happening. Yes, even nitty gritty details so there’s zero surprise. Also take the opportunity to lay down ground rules – like how he’s supposed to stay in bed after he’s tucked in.
Involve your toddler. From picking out sheets and other kid-friendly bedding, enlisting your child’s help throughout the process allows them to feel in control.
Update your childproofing. Without crib bars in place to keep bubba safe, re-evaluate the toddler-proof measures you’ve taken throughout the house to ensure your little one stays safe even during midnight adventures.
Keep bedtime routines in place. It’s time to switch out your toddler’s bed, but keep everything else status quo. This means sticking to the same bedtime, following pre-sleep routines, and even putting the new bed in the exact same space where the crib was. Also, help your child manage their newfound freedom by going over their bedtime routines every day. Making it a daily conversation acts as a reinforcement of the ground routines and your expectations till they’ve got it down pat.
Offer comfort. No matter how ready a child seems, be prepared for some clinginess come time for them to actually fall asleep alone. When it happens, allow your child to express their fear, providing comfort till they calm down. Then, gently remind them that you’ll be leaving the room and address any other anxiety that surfaces. It will take a few days of helping them through fearful reactions, but they’ll eventually get used to the idea of sleeping alone.
Praise your toddler. When your child does stick to his bedtime and spends the entire night actually sleeping (or not trying to escape), dish out loads of praise and encouragement. To further motivate your child, consider setting up a sticker system to chart each night he actually stays in bed without roaming about, and reward your tot with a special treat at the end of the week.