Thinking of switching your toddler from a crib to a bed? Here are a few things to consider and some tips for success!
Is your child close to age 3?
If not, then I'd consider waiting.
Children, especially under 2.5 years old, can struggle to understand rules and consequences when it comes to staying in a bed.
For their whole life, there were bars and a designated space for them to sleep in.
By switching them too early, they can struggle to understand the lack of boundaries around their bed, which can lead to your toddler visiting you in the middle of the night.
Children closer to age 3 have a better understanding of rules and boundaries. Which in turn leads to less frustration when it comes to getting them to stay in their bed.
If your toddler is climbing out of their crib, and you're concerned for their safety, consider some of the barriers first before switching them right away.
A sleep sack can greatly discourage a crib climber, and if they can take their sleep sack off (yes, there are some smarties out there!) then I'd put it on backwards. If they still can get out of either their sleep sack or crib, then you'll have to get them into a bed.
Only the bed
When it's time to change to a toddler bed, I'd suggest only changing your child's bed. Meaning, that changing out all the furniture and its placement in their room may be overwhelming. Toddlers are concrete thinkers (vs. abstract) and by moving around their whole room, they may be overwhelmed by all the changes happening at once.
My daughter, Bex, in her new bed, a month after she turned 3. We only changed the bed, the rest of her room stayed the same.
Keep their bedtime routine exactly the same!
We don't want them thinking that all the rules have changed (because they haven't!)
Need an example of a great toddler bedtime routine? Here's what I teach my clients:
6:15: Offer bedtime snack
6:45: Out of bath and PJs
6:50: Brush teeth
6:55: Story times (maximum 3 books!)
7:15: Lights out!
New sibling on the way in just a few short weeks? Moving houses within the next month or so?
I'd highly recommend waiting until these changes have happened and there's been enough adjustment time before switching to a bigger bed.
Need the crib for the new baby?
Borrow one, or purchase another one second hand. Depending on how old your child is, it might be a while before you switch them to a big bed, it's worth having everyone sleep well if it means purchasing a second crib.
If your child is close to being ready to switch, chances are, the new baby will be sleeping in a bassinet for a while, giving you time to make the change over later.
Three potential scenarios can happen when you transition your child to a toddler bed.
1) Immediate testing
This is when your toddler gets out of their bed right away and tests the boundaries.
Don't give into stall tactics and negotiations!
Pro-tip: Offer a bedtime snack and a small drink before bath time, avoiding the "I'm hungry!" stall tactic! Same thing goes for going to the bathroom before bed, make it part of the routine every night.
This is when your toddler will do well for a few weeks, but then figure out that they can get out of bed, and it's fun!
When this happens, reaffirm the boundaries that you've set and get your toddler back to bed. The more that you keep that boundary, the more they will understand what you expect.
If you change the rules, they won't know what to expect!
3) It goes well!
Some kids do well! They are compliant and stay in bed!
I find that when a child is closer to age 3, parents are less likely to encounter protest and rule testing, and if they do, it doesn't last as long.
So if you're considering when is a good time to switch to a toddler bed, consider your child's age (as close to age 3 as possible), only switch out their bed initially, and if there are big changes coming up such as a new sibling or moving, wait until after those changes have occurred before making the switch. You'll find that your toddler continues to sleep well, which means you will too!
Here for you,
This is my daughter, Bex, just after she turned 3 years old. Her sister was born in March and we switched in June. She did so great!
Did you know that you can book a 15-minute call with me?
We go over what's going on with your child, and we talk over some possible solutions.