In a blink of an eye, your little one has reached one of their final milestones as a baby, it is time to transition to a toddler bed. With so many questions and a toddler to please, this is usually a daunting experience for any parent. For some parents and toddlers, it will be a seamless transition. While others, usually the parents more than the toddlers, will have endless nights of screaming, crying, begging, and the feeling of giving up.
But, have no fear! As with most parenting situations, there are signs to look out for and guidelines to follow to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your little one. Here are our best tips and tricks.
Signs of readiness to transition to a toddler bed
Generally, most parents move their babies to a toddler bed between the ages of 18 – 36 months. There is quite a big gap between these ages, making it difficult for any parent to determine the right age. As with most milestones, there are no definitive ages to reach them. It all depends on your baby’s mental, emotional, and physical readiness.
Climbing over the crib rails
If you have caught your little one in the middle of a grand escape, it is probably time to move to a toddler bed. Once your toddler has discovered the ability to climb, a crib becomes a safety hazard.
The first few escape attempts might be unsuccessful, but eventually, your little one will learn how to maneuver over the rail. Getting over the rail becomes easier for your toddler if the rails are below shoulder height. For this reason, it is advisable to remove crib bumpers, toys, pillows, or any objects which your toddler can stand on, from the crib.
If there are visible clips to release the rails, which your baby can access, you should find a way to secure them, or transition to a toddler bed once your little one discovers them. A fall from this height can be very damaging to your child’s health.
As an added precaution, place a soft, cushy mat slightly under your baby’s bed, whether you are using a crib or a toddler bed. Be sure that the mat has a non-slip underside and is placed in a position to cushion your baby in case of a fall.
Potty training in itself is a challenging experience for you and your toddler. Now, imagine adding the difficulty of getting out of a crib to use the potty. By restricting them to a crib, you might be creating unnecessary obstacles which will inhibit and lengthen the learning process.
Once your toddler begins to potty train, they become a little more independent. Potty training also gives more responsibility to your toddler. Therefore, they need to be able to exercise these newfound freedoms by being able to go when they need to and to not be completely reliant on you.
Simple things can upset a toddler’s sleep pattern that in turn will upset yours. A sudden change from crib to bed may result in your toddler stumbling into your room at odd of the night looking for his or her familiar comfort, which is normally mom. However, if your toddler sleeps through the night without waking then unsupervised sleep may be a sign to slowly transition from crib to bed.
Not to break the continuity of your child’s sleep pattern, it is best to get them used to their own room and bed. Keep to a strict bedtime routine. Allow them to play in their new room during the day and spend time with them in the room as well. Start with setting them down in their bed for short daytime naps and progress from there to reading bedtime stories to them in their own bed.
A sleepover in your toddler’s room is a good idea that you do for a few nights. During this time show a lot of excitement and admiration for your toddler’s room and bed.
Tell your little one how proud you are that they are becoming a “big kid” and that cribs are only meant for babies. All this conditioning will pay off and your toddler will most likely make the transition with ease.
You may also have to adjust your sleep pattern to accommodate the transition period. Your toddler has grown accustomed to waking up in the morning with mom and dad in the same room but if you aren’t there when your little one wakes; they may become unsettled and develop an aversion to sleeping in their own room.
Wake up early and be sure to be by your toddler’s bedside to kiss them good morning.
Relating to boundaries
Raising a child presents many different challenges for parents. We have all heard of the infamous terrible two’s, and this phase usually coincides with transitioning to a toddler bed. Setting boundaries is an essential lesson that allows your toddler to build confidence giving them a sense of security within their imagined boundaries. A child with firm boundaries is a happy child.
Feeling secure is a toddlers’ ticket to follow in the footstep of David Livingstone, allowing them to freely explore their small world with confidence.
Security can be easily achieved by having familiar things around that provide comfort. You can easily convert the crib into a toddler bed which will create familiarity, especially regarding bedtime routines.
If your toddler has set boundaries, there should be no display of doubt when they are first introduced to their new room. Turn the introduction into an adventure and ask your little one to select their favorite toys and point out a place in their new room where the toys should go. Make suggestions and let it appear as though they have the final say.
By establishing boundaries for your child, you are directly approving certain behaviors and outlawing others. Teaching your child to respect set boundaries is not an easy task and many parents take a long while to get it right. You could see it as tough love. A child will test parents until boundaries are established. With these rules in place, a child will happily go on playing instead of testing their parents. Authority is key to a child’s self-confidence and the more confident your child feels the easier the transition will be from crib to toddler bed.
Your toddler asked about a bed of their own
Your toddler may catch you off guard and ask you when they can have their own bed. Don’t be alarmed but rather show excitement when asked this question. This is actually a pat on the back for you being a good parent. Your hard work of setting boundaries has paid off. Your toddler is letting you know that they love you but it’s time to loosen the strings a little.
This is a milestone worth recording. Your little one is oozing with confidence and the transition to their own bed is exactly what they need to continue their journey of learning and discovery.
Even with this push from your little one, it’s important to still consider keeping the transition slow and deliberate. Make it fun for your little one and assure them that you will never be far away. Start with daytime naps and gradually move to overnight with them.
Your toddler may surprise you yet again and insist that they are big enough to sleep alone their bed. Once again confirm that you will always be close by. Check up on your toddler during the evening just to make sure they are fine and be close by when they wake up.
Unhappy in the crib
Toddlers compare and notice things in their environment. Your toddler may have an older brother or sister and might compare the size of their crib to their siblings’ bed. Perhaps the little one is fast outgrowing the crib and can’t stretch while trying to fall asleep.
If your toddler expressed negativity toward their crib, the first thing you need to do is establish why.
Always show concern and interest when your toddler speaks to you or tries to show you something. You may want to express surprise at their sudden dislike of their crib but you must suggest a solution as well.
If they are indeed outgrowing their crib then it’s time to put the wheels in motion and transition to a toddle bed.
Things to consider
Moving your toddler into their own room and bed requires a degree of patience. Sadly, the move very seldom ends well if you attempt doing it as a one-day event. When your little one learnt to walk, you were there to encourage and lend a helping hand.
You also made sure your home was childproof and the floors were not slippery. Moving to a new room and bed also requires mom to hold that little hand and assure her child that everything will be just fine.
Parents should allow for a small play area in the room and have designated areas to store toys and baby books. Keep toys and scatter cushions to a necessary minimum on the bed when your toddle goes to bed. Choose the right linen and pillow to complement a healthy sleep posture for your toddler. A night light is a good idea with their potty well-lit.
There should be enough light for your toddler to navigate from their bedroom to yours. Don’t close doors entirely, nor should you lock bedroom doors. Your toddler must still be able to reach you at night without experiencing the trauma of being locked out.
The big transition from crib to toddle bet arrives anytime between 18 months and 3years old. There is no particular set time but the move will be spurred on by a number of reasons from outgrowing the crib to your toddler asking you for a bigger bed and heir own room.
Parents will have to navigate the transition while exercising a lot of patience and understanding. Settling your toddler down in their own bed and room requires parents to be resourceful while always reassuring their little one that they are still in the confines of their secure space.
It’s a small step for a toddler and an even bigger step for mom and dad.