Switching From A Crib To A Bed: When’s The Right Time?

– Written by JoAnna Inks 

baby boy in a crib - JoAnna Inks Sleep Solutions

The first step is be prepared.

You’re definitely going to want to include your little one in this process.  You want to talk a lot about moving to a “big kid” bed, choose a date, and let them know when this is going to happen.

When you talk to your toddler about what’s happening, you want to make it really positive.  But, be careful not to make a huge production out of it. This can put unwanted pressure on your child and we don’t want that when switching beds can be stressful enough!

When the date for the switch gets closer it would be a good time to head to Target to pick out a new bed and be sure to bring your toddler along.  

You might want to prepare yourself for the endless requests for items that have nothing to do with the new bed, maybe from the toddler, but more than likely from your own brain.  “Wow! What a neat frame! Only five bucks? How can I NOT buy that?”)

Including your child in what bed, sheets, and pillows feel comfortable to her will not only insure that she gets something she likes, but will give her a sense of ownership over her new bed, which will help immensely with this transition.

We even got really adventurous and let our boys help put their new beds together!  It’s a fond family memory 😉

Now that the bed is together and the new sheets are on, one thing to remember is to keep the new bed in the same place the crib was.  In fact, you’ll really want to keep everything about the room the same except the bed. Since this is a BIG chance, we don’t want to make any additional changes that aren’t necessary.

This also holds true for the schedule on the first night in the new bed.  Same bedtime routine, don’t switch up bedtime, no new foods at dinner. Keep everything predictable and as mundane as possible.

No big production.  You can share with her how proud you are of her but we don’t want a lot of, “You’re such a big girl now!”  Toddlers are a bit leary of this whole “growing up” thing, so keeping it low-key can help ease this transition.

Now that your little one is in their bed, there are a few different scenarios that I see over and over.

• Scenario #1 – They immediately fall asleep and don’t test the rules at all!  If this is you, celebrate it because you are in the VERY lucky minority.

• Scenario #2 – Your kiddo seems to adapt immediately but after a week or two starts following you out of the room, waking a lot in the night, playing with toys, or calling out for you to come back many times each night.

• Scenario #3 – Your toddler begins doing all of #2 the very first night!

The solution to #2 & #3 is the same.  You give your toddler a warning when they don’t follow the rules around bedtime and be sure you tell them what  the consequence will be if they break the rules again. Then, follow through if they do!

You know your toddler the best and I’m certain you’ve discovered a consequnce that gets their attention.  I suggest you keep that consequence going since the only thing we want to change is the bed.

If you can’t think of a good consequence, taking the lovie away or closing the door for a period of time are both effective for toddlers.  

Each time your toddler repeats the rule breaking you can increase the time the door stays shut or the lovie stays out of the bed.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.  Talk about what’s happening, keep things fun, set clear expectations and make sure to enforce the rules.  It’s not always going to be easy, but when is raising a toddler easy?!?

Some final thoughts…

As much as we’re trying to keep this transition smooth and stress-free, remember this:  You’re the boss! It’s almost a given that your toddler is going to challenge you. She’ll most likely leave the room, ask for water, ask for you, ask to go to the bathroom and on and on.

It’s so important that you hold your ground and be consistent, espcially in the first few weeks.

If you start changing the rules or allowing her to sleep with you, this process can to on for months.  This means a lot of broken sleep for the entire family, which isn’t good for anyone.

If you’re having trouble transitioning your child from a crib to a bed and it’s gone on too long.  Keep in mind, there’s help for that!

In a few short weeks, we can have your toddler sleeping peacefully in their own “big kid” bed.  

That’s something I help families with every day.

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