It’s finally time to make the big transition from the crib to a big girl/boy bed. As a parent, this can be a really sad experience as your little one is becoming more and more independent. I remember crying myself to sleep after tucking my oldest daughter into her new bed for the first time. After we take a little time to grieve, we then need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming challenges that come with this new independence. Waking up in the middle of the night to your silent 2-year-old staring you in the face can be terrifying to say the least. And walking them back to their beds a million times a night can be very exhausting! Here are my favorite tips to make this transition smooth on everyone in the family.
1. Make sure your child is ready. I always recommend that parents hold off on this transition until they absolutely need to. Wait until your child is starting to climb out of the crib, as it has now become a safety issue. The reason I recommend this is because toddlers have an abundance of will, but they often lack the skill. This means that they are likely able to sleep in a big kid bed; however, they may not have the skill or discipline to stay in their new bed all night and get quality rest. The four sides of a crib are preset boundaries that are already set for your child. When the crib comes down, your child needs to have the cognitive and behavioral skills to follow the new boundaries that you enforce.
2. Go straight to a twin/full/queen size bed. I usually recommend that parents skip the whole toddler bed phase if possible. If you are planning on putting your son or daughter into a queen size bed in the future, then do this right away. Transitions are hard on kids. If possible, decrease the number of transitions by skipping the middle step of a toddler bed all together. Other benefits to this technique are that you will be able to lay in bed and cuddle or read books with your kiddos and you will have extra space for guests to sleep when they come over.
3. Use a bedframe. Do not put the mattress on the floor. Likely your child will already have the motor skills to climb onto a bed, if not, it may be too soon to take them out of the crib. (I always recommend leaving kids in the crib until they start climbing out on their own). You may need to place a little step stool next to the bed. The reason I don’t like the mattress on the floor is that it is easier and almost more inviting for kiddos to get out of bed. If you are worried about your child falling out of bed, you can purchase some guard rails or make your own by placing some pool noodles under the fitted sheet.
4. OK to Wake Clock. This alarm clock is the best tool for toddlers who are transitioning into big kid beds as it lights up when they are allowed to wake up and get out of their beds. I like this clock because it stays dark throughout the night and only lights up at the set wake time. But remember, a rule is only a rule if it is implemented.
5. Put a bell on your child’s door knob. I recommend that parents place a little bell on their child’s doorknob, so you can hear them when they try to leave their room throughout the night. They can be sneaky little buggers and end up in bed with you, or running around throughout the house.
6. Be Consistent. Create rules around bedtime and stick with them! If your little one has a hard time going to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night, implement your rules with absolute consistency, both mom and dad!