Making the move from a crib to a “big-kid” bed is an exciting experience for a toddler. However, the novelty of the new surroundings can lead to your kids testing new boundaries and interruptions in your carefully established sleep schedule. Today, I’ve got some tips on when to make the transition, as well as some helpful advice on what to do when things don’t go as planned.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Now, the one mistake people make, though, is that they often do this too soon. I find the perfect age to transition from a crib to a bed is around two and a half to three. Anything before two and a half and I find that the child is just not cognitively ready to understand that there are consequences to behavior, and I just find that it tends not to go very well.
One thing that also happens, almost with every child, is that there’s a little bit of a honeymoon period. Once they move to the big girl bed, they’re really excited and they feel really special, and they don’t test boundaries. They just politely go to sleep every night and parents often think, “Alright! That was easy.”
And then, trouble starts to occur about three to four weeks after the move. Now this child’s comfortable there, she understands what’s going on, and she starts to realize, “Huh, you know what? I can get up out of this thing, I could go see what Mom and Dad are up to, I could go play with some toys in my room,” and that’s usually where the trouble starts.
So some words of caution around that. If you start to see your toddler testing boundaries, and usually they do it in really subtle, clever ways, like just asking for one little extra thing, maybe coming out just once the first night, then the next night it’s twice, and so on. And pretty soon, this can snowball right out of your control, so you really need to nip it in the bud as soon as problems arise.
So I like to consequence everything. I would give the child one warning. “You can’t come out of your room. If you come out of your room again, then ‘X’ will happen.” And I love the consequence of shutting a door all the way to click. I find that it is a good enough consequence in the fact that the child really doesn’t like it. Most toddlers sleep with their door open a crack or so, and the idea of it being closed all the way is a really significant consequence, and it works like that.
So, if she did come out again, you would say, “Okay, back to bed.” Close the door all the way, and you may have to hold it, but we’re just going to do this for one minute. Okay? We’re just sending a message that coming out of your room is not acceptable and that there will be a consequence if you do.
So after the minute, you can let the door be open a crack and let her try again. If she comes out a second time, well now we’re going to close that door all the way for two minutes. And we’re just going to keep sort of upping the ante as she tests the boundary around this. And I promise you, there will come a time where she decides, “You know what? It makes more sense to stay in my bed and have that door open a crack than it does to keep getting out and having it closed” so that’s a really effective consequence.
If that one doesn’t work, and I’m telling you, nine out of ten toddlers, this is going to work for, but if it doesn’t then you can do something like taking away the lovie. If she’s got a special friend that she sleeps with, you could take it away in a similar fashion. Not for the whole night, but just for increments of time until she realizes that it makes better sense to cooperate. “That way I get to keep my baby than have it continue to be taken away from me. ”
Okay? So hang on to those cribs as long as you can. There is no need to move a happily sleeping toddler. There’s no harm in it. Obviously if they’re trying to jump out or leap out head-first, then yes. You know, we need to have some caution around that and perhaps consider moving to a big girl bed or a big boy bed.
But if they’re happy there, let it be, absolutely. I would say, all three of my children, they were almost three before we moved them to a bed, and it had a lot to do with potty training. So if that’s nowhere in sight, potty training’s not happening yet, then just keep them there and let them happily sleep.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well!
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