Your little one is getting bigger and maybe you’re thinking they are ready to move from the crib to the toddler bed. Here I will cover some thoughts on why you may want to wait, when it really is time, and how to ease the transition.
When Should We Get a Toddler Bed
Before we get started, let’s talk timing. I always recommend keeping the crib until your little one is close to 3 years old. Well, here’s why:
- Safety First! The crib provides a safe, enclosed space for your little one. A child under the age of 2.5 years may not have the language skills necessary to communicate certain rules about bedtime and why it’s important to stay in bed.
- Transition Preparedness: Around 3, most toddlers are developmentally ready for the shift. They can better understand boundaries and rules. They understand cause and effect more easily and can communicate and recognize spatial awareness.
- Emotional Readiness: Transitioning can be a big deal for little ones. Waiting until they’re closer to 3 allows them to better grasp the change. Like adults kids feel emotionally connected to their sleep space and sometimes big changes can cause setbacks.
If your little one is climbing out of the crib or approaching 3 years of age and are asking for a toddler bed it’s safe to say that it’s time to make the switch. The first step is choosing the bed.
Choosing a Toddler Bed
When it’s time to say goodbye to the crib, consider these tips:
Low and Cozy: Opt for a low-to-the-ground bed with safety rails. This helps prevent tumbles and makes it easier for them to climb in and out. When my daughter moved out of her crib she laid down in bed that night and said “something is wrong, why is this bed broken?” she was noticing that she felt more exposed because there was less railing. A low side rail can help ease the feeling of being more open.
Familiarity is Key: If possible, choose a bed that your toddler helped pick out. But keep the options minimal, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re 3 years old. Choose a few that you feel comfortable with and then let them have some say.
Bedding: Get some fun, comfy sheets and bedding that your toddler will love and maybe even a new lovey for their big kid bed. This will give them some excitement and buy in to the new bed. Again, limit the choices to 2-3 options to avoid a meltdown or argument.
How to Make the Switch
- Create a Routine: If you don’t already have a bedtime routine I highly recommend starting one with the new bed. Toddlers crave stability and routine and knowing what to do at bedtime and keeping things the same everyday will ease any anxiety they may have at bedtime.
- Talk About It: Let your toddler know about the upcoming change. Talk about how exciting it will be to sleep in their new big-kid bed but be careful not to push it too much. Let them help you set up the bed and put on the new sheets. Talk in positive happy tones about their new bed.
- Safety First: Ensure the room is toddler-proofed. Secure any furniture that could be climbed or pulled on. The new found freedom can be intoxicating and almost all kids roam the room at some point during this transition so it’s very important to make sure they can’t get into too much trouble.
- Stay Patient and Positive: Like any transition, there may be some bumps along the way. It’s normal to have some setbacks in sleep during this time. Be consistent in your response so they understand what the boundaries are.
Staying on Track with Sleep
Ok real talk. This is probably one of the most difficult sleep transitions your family will go through. Moving out of a crib makes a child feel exposed and gives them a lot of freedom they may not be ready for. Waiting is always preferable to jumping the gun so really don’t rush into anything. Use an ok to wake clock to help them quantify time and talk about green means morning and red means go to bed. This can help them learn to self manage and decide to stay in bed even if they wake up early. If you get off track or end up with a wandering toddler book a call with me so we can get things back on track.