The time has come for your toddler to make that huge leap…right into their “Big Kid” bed. While some toddlers will transition from a crib to toddler bed more naturally than others, all parents face challenges and uncertainty when determining how and where their child will sleep best and what it will take to get there.
This journey can be difficult and unpredictable for most of us parents. But we are all used to a little sleep deprivation by now, right? Take note, follow these tips when switching from a crib to toddler bed, and you’ll see the transition to a “Big Kid” bed doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem.
Determine When to Make the Switch from Crib to Toddler Bed
You may be wondering, “How do I know if it’s time for my child to make the transition from crib to toddler bed?” Glad you asked. You should understand there is no perfect time to make the switch, but here are some indicators your child is ready:
They are getting too big for their crib
If you notice your child’s feet or head nearing one end of the crib that’s an indicator they may need more space to stretch out in a twin size bed.
They can climb out of their crib
Not only is this an indication you child is getting too big for the crib, but the ability to climb out of the crib also becomes a safety issue. What was previously a safe space for your child to sleep now puts them at risk of falling.
They are potty training
Regardless of whether or not your child can scale rails and escape the crib (let’s hope they can’t), children need to easily access the bathroom when potty training. If you are teaching them to listen to their body and head to the bathroom when nature calls, you should make sure they have the means to reach the bathroom. Allowing them to sleep in a bed they can easily climb in and out of is imperative when potty training.
You need the crib for another baby
This isn’t as much an indicator as it is a need. While moving your toddler to a bigger bed so your newborn can have the crib is the most convenient solution, don’t do so prematurely just for convenience sake. This is especially important for families with children less than two years apart. Children younger than two are most likely not ready to make the switch.
While age can be an indicator of when to switch from crib to bed, it’s not the most reliable indicator to go off of. Children grow and learn at different rates. It’s best to use their size, ability to climb or potty training to decide if it’s time for them to move out of their crib. If you are super set on age as an indicator, go off the average age to start potty training which is 27 months (around two and a half).
Find the Right Sleep Tools
Once you have decided it’s time to make the transition from a crib to toddler bed, you’ll need to select the right tools for sleep and design the room for safety.
First and foremost, choose the right mattress.
The most common size mattress for children is a twin which typically measures 38’’ x 75’’. Anything larger may be daunting or dangerous to your toddler. In fact, there are smaller mattresses on the market that measure 30’’ x 75’’ if you think even a twin will be too big. But keep in mind children won’t outgrow their twin size mattress until their teen years so this size could be a smarter investment.
Next, consider the type of mattress you’ll get. Dust mites, a common pest found in mattresses, can trigger allergies, so if your child has allergies, consider an organic mattress that is naturally resistant if microbes. Even if your child doesn’t have allergies, an organic latex mattress may be the safest option. However, budget will also play a role in the mattress you select.
A water-resistant mattress protector
A mattress cover, protector, encasement, whatever you want to call it, is a product definitely worth investing in! You will thank yourself for buying one the first night your child wets the bed. Not only do mattress protectors such as the SafeRest Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector protect your mattress from spills and accidents, but they also help protects against bacteria and other microbes from getting into bed with your babe.
Bed rails such as the Regalo HideAway Double Sided Bed Rail Guard System are a great tool to use when first training your child to sleep in their new big kid bed. Not only will they give you peace of mind when you leave your toddler alone that first night, but they will also help your child feel more safe. After all, they are accustomed to being surrounded by the rails of their crib. Especially in the early months of the transition, use bed rails for the comfort and safety of you and your child.
Because your child is most likely potty training when they switch to their big kid bed, they are probably going to get out of bed during the night to go to the bathroom. Not to mention, it may take a while for them to stay put in their new bed as they get used to it. To promote safety, you should add nightlights such as the VAVA Night Light for Kids throughout the room, nearby hall and bathroom so their path is lit if they get out of bed.
So you have made the decision to transition from crib to bed and child proofed the room. Now, it’s time to start training.
Start by preparing your toddler for the transition.
Once you have decided it’s time to nix the crib, let your child in on the transition too. Talk it up well in advance. Share with them how exciting and grown up it will be to sleep in their own bed. Take them shopping to pick out a comforter, new PJs and sheets so they feel like their bed is their own.
Take it slow
Remember that a successful night of sleeping in their own bed all night long does not happen overnight (no pun intended). It takes time to adjust. Also keep in mind that changing over to a bed won’t fix bad sleeping patterns. If a toddler experienced poor sleeping habits in their crib, they will have trouble in a real bed too. If they are experiencing a lot of challenges transitioning to their new bed, warm them up to it by having them nap in the big bed before taking on an entire night.
Battle Common Toddler Sleep Challenges
You should understand that this is an emotional, potentially unsettling switch for a toddler. Let him or her keep her familiar comfort items like a blanket or stuffed animals. Let him or her put what they want in bed with them to comfort them and maintain what they already experience and know. Consistency is very important.
To battle anxious feelings during the switch, keep the layout of the room as familiar as possible. Stick to the same bedtime routine, and make the bed as familiar as possible. You may even introduce a white noise machine to help calm them.
All in all, remember to keep the crib to toddler bed changing process a positive experience. In fact, consider throwing a party the day your toddler switches over! Expect setbacks, but remain consistent and firm. It is normal to take two steps forward and three steps back, but remember just like anything, it’s a learning process that will work out soon enough. And remember, it’s always the hardest the first time.
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