Sooner or later, the time is going to come to move your toddler out of the crib and into a “big kid” bed. It can be an exciting time for your little one, but it can also cause some regression and disturbance in their sleep.
In today’s video, I have some tips to help you determine whether now is a good time to make the switch, and if it is, how to do it smoothly and minimize the impact on your little one’s routine.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Today I want to give you a few tips for moving your toddler to a big girl or big boy bed. It’s a fun day. It’s a milestone, but there is no rush to do this.
I’m baffled often about how rushy people can be about moving their toddlers into beds. There is no rush. The only real reason you need to do it is if it looks like your toddler is about to dive out of their crib head first. Then we’ve got a safety issue, or you’re potty training, and it’s just becoming problematic to go haul your child out of the crib so that they can use the bathroom.
We want to encourage them to go and use the bathroom independently, so that might be a good time to move to the bed.
My rule of thumb around age would be to at least wait till 2 1/2, nothing really before. Between 2 1/2 and three is ideal just because a 2 1/2 to three-year-old can just understand a little bit deeper. They can think through to consequences a little bit clearer, and the whole process just goes much better if you wait.
Now, you’re probably asking, “I’ve got a baby on the way. “What am I going to do?”
Well, my advice is to buy a second crib. That’s what we did with our second and third. Our son was in no way ready to move to a bed, so we just purchased another crib. You could get them second… I think we bought a secondhand crib for $50, and it was really no big deal to set up two cribs.
Now when you’re ready, though, let’s say you are. You want to first set the stage, so you’re going to have a sit down with your little one and talk about the transition from the crib to the bed. You’re gonna have to go over the rules that it is the same as the process for nighttime or bedtime routine. We’re gonna do your routine, and instead of getting into the crib, you’re gonna go into the bed, where you need to stay there and sleep well just like you always do.
Now most people find that there’s a, I call it a honeymoon phase, where for a few weeks, the toddler does really, really well with the change. They don’t seem bothered by it. They don’t try to get out of the bed, and then week three or four, you might get a little bit of game playing because the novelty’s worn off a little bit. They realize, hey, I can actually get out of this thing and go see what other people are doing or play with toys in my room, and then they will most likely give that a shot.
You just need to nip it in the bud really quickly, though, when it shows up, and my favorite way to do that is by a consequencing.
So if your toddler comes out to find you, you give them one warning. They have to stay in their bed. That’s the rule, and if they break that rule again, there will be a consequence.
Two of my favorite consequences are that you will close the door all the way, something I call locking the door, just for short increments of time, so maybe just a minute the first time they test you, maybe a minute and a half the second time, two minutes the third, and so on. This works really effectively. It doesn’t usually take more than three or four attempts before the toddler realizes I really don’t like that. I think I’ll cooperate, or you can do a similar approach with taking away their sleeping toy, their lovey, again just for increments of time because it’s very hard to take a lovey away for the entire night.
Most people cave at some point, so don’t back yourself into that corner. Just take it for short increments of time, and then return it until your toddler decides that, you know what, I really don’t like my stuffy or my baby being gone for that long, and they again cooperate.
Now you can make this fun by getting your toddler involved by going and picking out new bedding or maybe a new sleeping friend and get them excited about this change, but something that happens for a lot of these children is that they spend a night or two in their bed, and they don’t really like it. They kind of liked the feeling of being in the crib. They liked the security of the crib, and they’ll most likely start asking for it back.
I’m going to advise you to not give in to that, right. You need to teach your child that you’re the ones ultimately making decisions here, and you’ve decided it’s time for this child to go into a bed. Even if for a night or two they have some protest around that, you need to move forward with it anyways. Otherwise, you’ll just teach your child that you don’t really mean what you say, and if they push you hard enough, you will cave, and that is certainly not a lesson you want to teach your child.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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