SEAMLESSLY TRANSITIONING FROM CRIB TO BED
I’m not joking when I say that making the transition from a crib to a “big kid bed” is a question I get really often. And I get it! It’s about as big a transition for your kiddo as it is for their parents. You remember bringing this tiny bundle home and putting them in their crib, and suddenly it seems they’re ready to leave their crib snoozing days behind them. Cue the waterworks!
But with this big change comes a fair amount of uncertainty, and that’s where the questions arise. So here it is! Alllll my expert answers to the questions I already know you’re going to ask when it comes to making the transition from crib to bed a smooth one.
Here’s what you seriously need to know in order to have success with making the switch. WAIT. As much as possible, wait until your child is 3. I’ve seen SO many parents jump the gun because they think their child is ready, or it seems to be the next exciting milestone. I hear you! But things go a lot better when your kid is a teensy bit older.
Don’t make the switch too early, and then decide to go back to a crib. This makes it confusing for everyone, and apprehensive when the time comes (again) to try a bed. Consistency is key here, so it’s really crucial that you just don’t start too early.
Don’t bump up the transition because there is a new baby coming and you’ll need the crib. I hear this one all. the. time. I totally get that you don’t want to spend the extra money on an additional crib when you already have one, but this is a recipe for disaster. We’re all aware that the newborn days can be exhausting, and you reeeaaallly don’t want to add in a toddler that won’t stay in their bed and stays up super late because they have new found freedom. Compared to having two kids that aren’t sleeping, I’d say a few hundred bucks for a second crib is well worth having one child sleeping soundly.
Don’t make the switch within 3 months of a major life change. In the same vein, if you’re expecting a new addition in your home, plan the bed switch around that as much as possible. Understandably, too many big changes at once makes everything harder than it needs to be.
Side note: The same goes for potty training! It’s a big change for a little person, so we don’t want to be adding more change on top of the adjustment of a new sibling.
Don’t use a new bed as a means to correct poor sleeping habits. You’ll actually see the opposite happen because giving freedom to someone who is already struggling with sleep only adds to the problem. Get independent sleep sorted out first, then make the bed transition.
Now that we’re clear on what you should probably avoid, here’s what you should really lean into for sleep success.
Do hype them up! Getting a big bed is an exciting time for a toddler, and it’s helpful they are supported in this excitement. Get pumped and have them pick out new bedding.
Do set ground rules. Let them know that a big kid bed = acting like a big kid. This means things like not getting out of their bed or escaping their room. I’ve found that having a toddler clock that changes colour when they’re allowed to come out is helpful, or setting up a rewards chart.
Do go right to a twin bed when you’re making the switch. In my humble opinion, toddler beds are a cash grab, and you’ll have to move up to a twin anyway in no time at all.
Do opt for bed rails if you’re concerned about your kiddo rolling out. If you’re looking to save that cash too, start with just the twin mattress on the floor (without a box spring or bed frame) until they’ve mastered that. Or you can stick pool noodles on each side (under the sheets!) to create “speed bumps” and prevent them from rolling off.
IF THEY’RE ESCAPING THEIR CRIB, BUT TOO YOUNG FOR A BED
The most common reason for switching beds too early is because your kiddo is escaping their crib. I get it! This is scary for everyone and a safety concern. Before you make the switch, have you tried each of these?
Flip their sleep sack backwards so they can’t unzip it as easily. Sleep sacks are great because they keep their little legs from swinging over the bars.
Drop the crib mattress to the floor as long as it’s safe to do so. This requires that much more height for them to escape - height they likely don’t have.
Flip the crib around. If your crib is the style that has a higher back and lower front, flip it so the front is facing the wall, giving you a few extra inches of coverage.
Have a video monitor with a microphone. If you can talk to them, when they’re trying to escape, firmly tell them that they’re not to get out of their crib. This may take some repetition, but eventually they’ll get it.
Still not sure? I’ve got you! Contact me directly if you’re struggling, and we’ll find a solution to your sleep struggles. Sleep doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to stay where you are!