Transitioning from Crib to Toddler Bedby Kathleen Roberts | March 3, 2008 12:00 AM
Is your child ready to start transitioning from crib to toddler bed? If he is frequently climbing out of his crib or if he is 36 inches tall or more, it may be that time. This is a big moment for you and your child as he takes another step closer toward independence and you see your child growing up right before your eyes.
The Right Time
So, how do you know that it's the right time? Suddenly realizing that you have an escape artist is a good clue. Most children make the transition to a big kid bed somewhere between one and a half and three and a half years old. Usually when a child is about 36 inches tall she is considered big enough leave her crib behind. If she is big enough to climb out she can get hurt or get stuck dangling from the crib rail.
Another clue that your child is ready is if he has learned to use the toilet. He will appreciate being able to get up on his own during the night if he needs to. If he has to call for help, he may have an accident which is frustrating for you and for him.
There is no reason to rush your child to move to a toddler bed however. You can extend the use of her crib by lowering the mattress as low as it can go. Don't forget to remove the bumper pad as soon as your child starts climbing. Some parents like using a mesh crib tent to keep their child from escaping. However, this can also pose a danger because it can be difficult to remove in an emergency.
A New Baby
Maybe you feel that you have to move your child to a new bed because you have a new baby on the way. There are two ways to handle this situation. One is to start several months before the new baby is due to help you child adjust to a new bed.
It may not be a good idea to tell him that he needs to give his crib to the baby. He may end up resenting the baby for taking his things. Just allow him the excitement of getting something new and being a big kid without the pressure of having to grow up before the baby comes.
You could also consider allowing him to transition after the baby comes. Most likely the baby will start out sleeping in a bassinette anyhow. This will allow your older child a few more months in his crib. This is a good option if your child is very young and may not be emotionally ready to make such a big change.
Making the Change
When you are sure that you and your child are ready to make a change in beds, be sure to take it slow. There are many ways to do this and only you can decide which one is the best way for your child.
One option is to simply place the crib mattress on the floor. This way you won't have to worry about your child falling from her bed. Put the mattress in the same place as the crib was set up so everything will feel the same as it did before.
You can also try buying a toddler bed. This is a great option because you don't have to buy a new mattress; the crib mattress fits perfectly. Take your child along to pick out his new bed. There are many styles to choose from and he will love to pick out something fun. Let him select his own bedding as well. Make a big deal about this special event.
Once assembled, allow your child to use the same blankets that he used in his crib so he'll feel more secure. He might even want to pick a special stuffed animal or other toy to sleep with as well.
A final option is to get a twin or full sized bed. You can purchase guardrails for the sides to keep her from falling out. Once again, she should be allowed to use the same blankets from her crib. She will also enjoy picking out pretty new sheets for her big, new bed.
A Few Tips
Some parents have had success by setting up the new bed in their child's room a few months before the transition from the crib. Doing this allows your child to sleep in his big bed for naps but still gives him the security of his crib at bedtime. You can also give him the option of which bed he wants to sleep in at bedtime.
Other parents find that the best way to make the change is to take down the crib and put it away. This out of site out of mind method may work well for you as well. However, if your child still doesn't like her new bed after a few nights, allow her to go back to the crib until she is ready. This shouldn't be thought of as a punishment; it simply means that she isn't ready for a big bed yet. As with potty training, it doesn't need to be rushed. Once a child is ready, she'll spend the rest of her life in a grown up bed. A few months will not matter a bit.
Avoid making this transition if there are other major events going on in your child's life. A recent move or the arrival of a new brother or sister is stressful enough. Allow your child to deal with one stress at a time.
Make sure that you don't forget your child's normal bedtime routine. A bath, pajamas and a bedtime story will ease your child into bedtime. Children tend to respond well to routine and it may take some of the stress out of getting a new bed.
If your child takes advantage of his new found freedom to roam the house as you sleep, he may not be ready to be in a toddler bed just yet. He may also be having nightmares and can finally run to his parents' room for reassurance. This is something he may have had trouble doing when he slept in his crib.
Lovingly but firmly take your child back to his bed. Tuck him in and tell him it is time to go to bed. Some parents solve this issue by putting a baby gate across the doorway of their child's room. Others simply close the door. Either way, this too shall pass.
Just remember, as your child grows up she needs your guidance and reassurance. Even small achievements are big milestones to a very young child. Celebrate each accomplishment together and she will grow up with confidence.Kathleen Roberts is a freelance writer and editor as well as the mother of five children. She writes about pregnancy, parenting, gardening and natural living. Kathleen enjoys spending as much time as she can in the outdoors with her family in the Florida Keys where she enjoys scuba diving, bicycling and anything else that will allow her to interact with nature.
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