I like to call this the move to freedom.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you why!
In this post we will cover:
The best age to move a baby from a crib to a bed
The best type of bed to transition to
What you can expect to see with this crib to bed transition
How long this transition may / will take
Keep scrolling ..........
The Best Age to Move a Baby From A Crib To A Bed
I'm a HUGE believer in the saying "Don't fix something that is not broken" If you have a toddler who is happy in their crib and they are sleeping well, please do not feel pressured to move them into a bed, just because your friends are doing, or you feel guilty about them still being in a crib. This transition is not always an easy one, and you will be opening up a can of worms.
I usually like to suggest to clients, to get as close as you can to the age of 3, or until the time has come for your child to drop the nap before doing this switch ( can be older if they are in daycare as they will push the nap for longer). When a toddler is holding onto the mid-day nap, bedtime can become late, very late, past your bedtime in fact. The last thing you want is to be chasing around your little one at 9 pm and then spending an hour, trying to get them to stay in bed due to not being tired.
Once the nap is cut, they are usually more tired, resulting in fewer delay tactics and a much easier put-down.
When it comes to being able to stay up late a toddler who has napped will outlast their tired parent any day.
So my TAKEAWAY NUMBER 1 - Ideally do it when your child is no longer napping and their drive to sleep is stronger in the evening.
The Best Type Of Bed To Transition To
Although you will want your child to be interested in their new bed, you do NOT have to spend a fortune. It's fine to take them out to buy new sheets, but you don't have to get too fancy - it does however want to be safe, toddlers are like windmills, so get a safety rate to stop them from falling out.
Toddler beds or twin beds are great choices for your child's first big bed. I have found it an easier route for parents to get stuck, as there is enough room then to then sit on the bed, fall to sleep on the bed or end up using it overnight if your child is up multiple times (which can then support or create a new issue if the parent wants the child to sleep independently).
Bedding is important. Use bedding that is not going to fall off the bed easily. It's a common tactic for toddlers to heavily rely on their parents tucking them in multiple times at bedtime or overnight, so think about this when dressing in the bed. Bed linen that is too light or slippy will just slide right off and you will get the 3 am call to come in and 'cover me up'.
Try to place the bed so that your child can see the door easily, I know it's not always possible, but toddlers feel safer when they can see outside the room or have a hallway light on, if they are around the corner, this can encourage them to get up out of bed to see what is going on.
So my TAKEAWAY NUMBER 2 - Use non-slippy linens or think of a way to keep your child in the bed without losing the sheets - like this zip-on duvet from the gro company. Think about the best position for the bed.
What You Can Expect To See With This Transition
This is not an easy transition. Most toddlers when they are put in a bed, realize that they can get out, so they do just that.
Try to see it through their eyes, they are in bed and they can get out, not just their bed but their ROOM - wahoo! WOW, Mum and Dad look at me!! I'm just going to slip right out of bed and come and hang with you, after all, I don't want to go to bed. I'm not tired. As they bounce off the walls.
Realistically with this transition, your expectation should be that they are going to come out of their room and out of their bed. When in a crib, the boundary is the crib (Unless they can climb out), when they are in a bed, the DOOR is the boundary.
I try to get clients to change their thought processes and their language when they are in this transition and also have them think about what they want the rules to be.
Here is an example of what I mean by this.
Q.Do you want them to stay in their bed or stay in their room?
A. You want them to stay in their room, it's okay if they get out of their bed esp if they are not wearing a pull-up and might need to go pee for example, or want to get a book to look at.
Language: When I say it's bedtime, it's time to go to your room and relax. If you want to get out of bed to get a book that is fine. When you feel tired, you can then go to sleep.
Q.What are you okay with them doing?
A. I was always fine with my kids, going pee ( although the potty would be in the room), they can look at books, I was okay with a nightlight on, etc you need to decide what the rules are, and then convey them.
Q.What can you not control?
A.Them falling to sleep.
Language: Avoid dictating that they MUST go to sleep or lay still, this often creates a worse issue, it's out of your control. You are only providing the bedtime and a sleep conducive environment, and for your child to stay in their room.
Where it all goes wrong.
Using the wrong bedtime ( child is under tired or not tired enough ) - The goal should be that they are asleep within 20 minutes, this is how you know they are going to bed at the right time.
Falling Fallon to delay tactics - toddlers are awesome at asking for random things that they don't need, in fact sometimes they don't know what they want but they will take what they can get.
Here is a list of the MOST commonly asked for items / sudden ailments before falling to sleep.
NEED to pee X 7
NEED to eat
Need an Ice Pack
100 stuffies, must be lined up a certain way
To be tucked in
NEED a band-aid for imaginary owie or the smallest of pinprick just discovered on the end of a finger
NEED socks on
NEED hat on
Please add to the list below..........if your toddler has asked for something funny at bedtime
If you can and I know it's hard, try to separate what your child may want from what they need.
Remember that I am here to help you by providing all my experience as a Baby Sleep Consultant.
How Long Will This Transition Take?
It's really hard to give you an answer as the time frame is going to depend on the following variables.
How consistent you are
Other transitions going on at the same time ( starting pre-school etc, potty training )
How consistent sleep has been in the past
Your Child's personality
In most cases, I would expect the transition to take 2-3 weeks to be smooth, but your own behavior/reactions to this transition are very important.
Dawns Take Aways
Children will ask for what works, so if they start asking for a few different things and you deliver the goods - this is like a slot machine paying out money - you keep playing!
Make sure you don't keep the bed and the crib in the same room - if you want them to sleep in the bed, only have the bed as an option.
Make sure that you put them to bed at the right time, they may have happily played in the crib for an hour, they will not do that in their bed, that's 1 hr of you taking them back to bed and being frustrated, a toddler has all the time in the world.
Don't give them anything that they didn't need before.
If your child is asking for things, THINK... Do they WANT this or do they NEED this?
Try to avoid sitting in the room to KEEP them in bed, this changes what they expect, and overnight you will hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet as they come to find you, thinking you are lost and asking you to come and tuck them back in, and then you will have to sit in the room again.
Visual the door as the new boundary and keep your language in check with your goal.
Validate their wants but don't deliver, Be Firm, Be Consistent ..... you got this!
Need to chat about this transition? you can book a FREE 15 minute call here..