Is my toddler ready to transition from a crib to a toddler bed? How do I make the switch smooth and secure? Here are seven strategies to try.
Transitioning to a toddler bed is another item on the list of parents’ struggles. Although there’s no universal age when a toddler is ready to make the switch, most parents do it when the child is between 18 months and three years old.
Your child may resist, and she may get out of bed at night, but that shouldn’t prevent you from remaining consistent.
Follow these seven tips and tricks for making the transition from a crib to a toddler bed as smooth as possible.
Don’t rush her
Even if you need that baby crib for another child, forcing her will not go well.
Tell her that big girls sleep in a big girl’s bed, and the crib is where babies sleep. Babies need cribs because they’re so little and fragile, and the rails help them stay in bed. She’s a big girl and needs a bigger bed.
If she’s okay with those ideas, then that’s a sign that she’s ready for the toddler bed.
Also, try talking positively about the bed.
You can say, “Oh, you’re such a big girl. You’re going to get a big bed.” Talking positively about her new bed will help get her on-board with the idea of transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed.
If you haven’t bought a bed, take her shopping with you. Although you may know what you’re going to get, let her sit on it and try it out. It will seem like it’s her decision.
Another thing that would make her more fond of sleeping in her own bed is to let her choose her sleeping accessories. Once you decide on the bed, let her help pick out sheets, pillowcases, comforters, and stuffed animals. Whether she’ll go for dolphins or unicorns, this will make her even more excited to be sleeping in her own toddler bed.
Make the experience fun for her, and you’ll have no trouble transitioning her from a crib to a toddler bed.
Just like with sleep training, consistency is key when it comes to children.
What you want to do is keep the routine exactly the same. Changing even one small thing can have a negative impact.
Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or singing, choose a routine that works for you and stick to it.
If the bath-massage-bed routine for transitioning to independent sleep worked before, don’t change it.
Praise her and give her a reward
Another tip for a smooth switch from a crib to a toddler bed is to put some kind of a reward system in place for her. If she starts getting out of the bed and you have to put her back, be consistent with that and give her praise if she stays in bed.
For example, if she gets out of bed, simply put her back calmly, without being angry or trying to discipline her.
If she stays in bed, you can say, “Great job, you didn’t leave your bed tonight,” and then give her a reward, which can be anything from a toy to a sticker chart.
Sticker charts are an excellent idea that many parents have leveraged. For example, you can try giving her one sticker for every night she sleeps in her bed. Once she collects seven stickers, reward her with something like an extra story at bedtime or going to the park.
Let her explore her newfound freedom
In the first few days after the transition, your child may leave the bed and go exploring her newfound freedom.
As long as she doesn’t leave her room, let her. She may go through her toys or books, or fall asleep in the corner of the room. She’ll eventually figure out that she gets a better sleep in her bed.
However, if she starts leaving her room, then you should bring her back to her bed. Tell her, “It’s bedtime. I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” and leave her room.
Avoid cuddling, talking, or getting angry. Return her to her bed and close the door.
Childproof the room
Home injuries are one of the top reasons kids under 3 visit the E.R. So before you let her sleep in her own room by herself, double-check if you childproofed your home well.
Did you lock the windows? Are the stairwells blocked? Did you remove all small toys that are a choking hazard?
Each room of your home should be childproofed to sleep, knowing that even if your child leaves her room, she’ll be safe.
Some experts recommend installing a gate on your baby nursery door or locking it. If you’re worried about fire safety, you can use a monitor or add bells to the door to know when she’s leaving her room to wander around the house.
The last thing to remember is that transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed will not be easy with some kids. Get ready for room escapes, falling asleep in the corner, and coming to mommy’s room for co-sleeping time.
Every time this happens, remain calm and return your child to her room. Don’t entertain her or indulge in cuddling sessions. Keep it as boring as possible, and eventually, she’ll learn what she has to do.
Yes, your child might cry and want her crib back. Yes, she may wake up in the middle of the night to go through her books. Stay calm and optimistic that she will fully adjust to her new bed in a month or two. Before you know it, she will be all grown up and sleeping in a full-sized bed.