Perhaps you have another one on the way, or maybe your tot is physically and mentally ready to make the leap to a toddler bed. Whatever the case, with careful planning and patience, you can get your child ready to the new routine.
When do you start?
First, consider the age. Many parents rush to the new bed, and although the readiness range is between 1.5 to 3.5, most toddlers will be ready closer to 3. Wait a little longer and you may be able to do this transition faster. You could also be forced to start sooner if your child is too big/tall/active and climbing out of bed (at 36″ he will be ready to go), or you may have a new baby on the way and would like to use the crib, or your tot is already potty-trained and needs to get out of bed at night to use the potty. Naturally, every child is different and you may need to pay more careful attention to how he or she sleeps and what the situation is. Since my son is very tall and active, I was convinced he was ready to move to a toddler bed. However, he turns around 360 through the night, so if there were no rails, he would be down on the floor. He also completely ignored the blanket which was on the floor in the morning. Conclusion: not ready – more time is required. Being a parent you already know that patience is your biggest ally.
Can you delay the transition?
There are a number of tools that could help you delay the transition to the toddler bed. Start with the obvious – lower the crib to the lowest level possible. If your acrobat is not happy being in the crib, consider getting a crib tent – it will prevent him from climbing out. In either case, consider putting a soft mat or blanket at the foot of the crib, in case the fall is inevitable and do your diligence with the room safeguards (electric plugs, cords, securing furniture, adding gates to the door and at the top/bottom of the stairs). Baby-proofing is essential to give you peace of mind that even if your child gets out of the crib, he will be safe.
If you have a new baby on the way, that alone is not a reason to jump to the transition if your toddler is not yet ready. Purchase a bassinet (you can get it as low as $50 at Target) and you will buy yourself an extra 3+ months before you need to make a transition. Babies are usually ready to leave the bassinet when they are 3-4 months old, or 20 pounds, or start to sit up or roll over. I personally think it is most efficient to buy one crib for each child, but buy the type that converts to a toddler bed. This way, you avoid the extra expense for a toddler bed and it may even help you make the switch, since your child will be familiar with the crib.
If your child is potty-trained, you will probably have to switch to a bed he can easily get out of to use the toilet and then get back in it. Luckily, potty training happens closer to 3 for most kids, so don’t rush either one. Read more about Potty Training here.
How do you transition to a toddler bed?
If your toddler is ready and you have reached the point, here are a few ways to make the transition smooth:
- Make a big deal about the new toddler bed. You can take your tot shopping with you to pick the bed he would like best. Wal-mart has a great selection of unique toddler beds – there is one for a car lover and one for a princess. You can always use a twin bed with the right mattress and create a unique headboard and footboard yourself or ask a local designer/carpenter. Watch enough “Extreme Home Makeover” shows and you will definitely get plenty of ideas.
- Make it into an event. Why not throw a “toddler bed” pajama party? It’s typically reserved for older kids but you can make it fun at any age. Once your toddler thinks this bed is special, he will be more interested in it.
- Have patience. Remember to keep the same sleep routine and remember to stand your ground and not run into the bedroom at every cry and whimper – give him time to settle down.
- Place the toddler bed where the crib used to be, so there will be some familiarity with the new piece of furniture.
- Make it safe. There is no reason to go completely cold turkey from crib to bed. You can start with just a mattress on the floor, or you can move from crib to toddler bed, but make the mattress setting low and purchase a toddler bed rail. Many manufacturers sell toddler bed rails that can be folded when not in use.
- Consider starting at naptime. Then, once your child has the naptime routine down and knows how to sleep in the new bed, you can make it a permanent sleep solution. The only drawback to this option is that you will probably have a crib and a bed in the room for a time being.
- Avoid making the transition during times of stress for your toddler – being sick, welcoming a new baby, traveling, etc.
- As with any kind of training, appreciate your child’s work at following it – offer plenty of praise, kisses and hugs.
Shop Toddler Beds: