This mini-blog was written for one special mama who’s had a heck of a tough year and who’s supported this business from the beginning. She’s about to move her child into a bed and asked if there was anything in particular she should know about. Here are our top tips on making the crib to bed transition:
First, try to wait until at least age 3! (To read our blog on early crib climbing and how to try to avoid it, click here)
If possible, try to make the switch during an otherwise calm period in your child’s life (i.e.: avoid switching during the first week of school, or the first month a baby arrives, or the day you move into a new house)
Try to make the move child-lead if possible and wait until your child shows interest and is asking questions.
Avoid terms like “you’re a big boy/girl now”, “the baby needs your crib”, “you’ll sleep better in a bed” , or “you’re too big for your crib”. Some of these items may be true – but usually not helpful in mentally preparing your child for a bed. For many kids this is a thrilling right of passage, but for some it’s a new freedom that can create some anxiety. Don’t assume your child is super psyched about it (even if they act like they are).
Focus instead on growth and development. “I know you are ready”, “Now that you are three, it’s time for a bed”, “sometimes new things are hard, but I will help you get used to it”, etc.
Keep it simple, keep it positive. No need to make this a huge production weeks in the making (that can be stressful). A few days of preparation is all you need. Take a trip to a friend’s house to see their bed, get a book at the library, do some test runs during the day, or go to the store and pick a special toddler sized pillow, or new sheets or blanket.
(If your child is 3, they are old enough for a light blanket and a small pillow. )
Double check your child’s schedule and make sure he’s been falling sleep quickly within 5-20 minutes each night in his crib. If it’s been taking him much longer than that, he probably needs less sleep. 3 year olds will typically sleep about 11 hours in 24 hours. If your child is napping for 1.5-2 hours a day, that might only mean a 9-10 hour night!
Then – go for it! Crib with toddler rail, mattress on the floor, twin bed, double bed, queen bed – whatever works for you!
Expect a “honeymoon” period followed by your child experimenting with getting out of bed frequently. Stay calm and patient. A sleep consult may help. If anxiety is high, sit on your child’s bed or lean in the doorway for several day until s/he is comfortable in the new bed. If anxiety is low, walk your child back to bed calmly over and over and over repeating, “it’s time for sleep now, let’s get back to bed”.
As always, prepare a room that is ideal for sleep – cool, dark, quiet. Safety is key and gates on stairways or nightlight in hallways may be necessary.
Addendum: Some parents ask about guard rails. There is some concern about safety and guardrails so we advise you check with your child’s doctor about what is the best solution if falling out of bed is possible. In our experience – many parents find success with placing a pool noodle or large rolled up towel under their child’s fitted sheet as a fall prevention, but again, ask your child’s doctor about what’s best for them.