Transitioning your toddler from a crib into a toddler bed is a big deal — for parents and child! But with these steps, both parent and child can have a smooth transition to toddler bed and you can kick the crib to the curb (or get it ready for another baby!).
Make it a big deal
When it’s time to transition your child from crib to toddler bed, make sure she knows this is a privilege reserved for “big girls” (or boys). Then, make it fun by allowing your child to choose his new big boy bedding. Taking your child with you to shop and make decisions reinforces that this is her bed, and may make the transition easier. While shopping for the actual bed, chose one low to the ground or with guard rails so your toddler won’t roll off. You an also simply place a mattress on the floor to avoid falls.
While shopping, you may also want to purchase a side rail for the bed. It will offer your child some of the security of the crib, and will also keep her from falling out of bed. Now is the time to buy extra outlet covers, closet latches, and other necessities to thoroughly child proof her room. Consider a hinged gate for her doorway that will help keep her from traveling throughout the house if she gets up in the night. If your home has stairs, place secure gates on the top and bottom of stairs to prevent accidental falls.
In addition to having the room safe, you’ll need to address your child’s security issues. Remember that your child’s crib has been her “safe place” since birth, so you don’t want her to feel like you are taking it away. Don’t break down the crib at first; instead move it to another area in the room so your child will know she has a choice about where to sleep. Place the bed where the crib was so she will have consistent surroundings when she lies down and wakes up.
Consider using a dim lamp in the room — nightlights sometimes aren’t bright enough to keep the scaries away. A low-wattage bulb (about 25 watts) throws a soft glow, making those shadowy figures discernable. Consider setting the lamp on a timer that turns on automatically when it’s bedtime and shuts up in the morning.
When everything is safe and secure, it’s time to begin the transition. Start by lying on the bed with your child, and talking about what it’s like to sleep in a big bed. Help her decide what toys she might like to sleep with, and what things she’d like to keep in her room to play with when she wakes up. Ask her if she would like to take a nap in her new bed, but don’t push her. If she starts out wanting to sleep there but later decides that she’d rather be in her crib, move her. She’ll soon learn that the freedom of a big bed beats the confinement of the crib.
It’s possible that your little one will be sleeping in her big bed the night you bring it home, but oftentimes the transition takes several weeks. Keep positive, praise her for her efforts and allow her to make the move in her own time.