As a mother of an infant and a toddler there is nothing I am more keenly aware of than how rapidly babies change and develop into little people. Some of the changes are minute and you don’t see it happening but others are in your face and require hands-on support by parents. I am, of course, talking about the removal of pacifiers, going from breast or bottle to cup, dropping naps, potty training and so on. One of the more challenging transitions though is the move from crib to bed.
You should start transitioning your child to a bed when they start escaping from their crib on a regular basis, if they’re getting too big for the crib or if you quite simply need the crib for use with a new baby. Of course even bed escape isn’t always a sign that your child is ready to move on to a bed. As you may already know, some toddlers embrace change easily and others are not quite so happy to adapt but with the right tactics any transition can be accomplished with ease.
We transitioned our eldest daughter from her crib to a bed in the spring when she was almost two and a half years old. I’d like to say things went perfectly smooth but there was definitely a bump on the road that I feel better equipped to avoid on our next go around.
We got both my girls convertible cribs since I like the idea of only ever having to buy her the one bed frame. Her crib transitions to a double sized bed, and her little sisters crib transitions into a toddler bed as well as a double. Both are great options since they can be used into young adulthood.
We took the time to really talk up the transition from crib to bed and got her really excited about it. We talked about how she would start sleeping in a big girl bed like mommy does and of course she was thrilled at the idea. A few days beforehand I took her out shopping and let her pick out sheets for her new bed.
We took all the necessary steps to make the room safe by securing her bookshelf and dresser to the wall, installed guard rails to prevent her falling, and installed a nightlight in the hallway outside her room in case of nighttime wandering. Essentially we thought like a toddler and tried to prevent any possible mishaps resulting from nighttime wandering.
The key with a crib to bed transition is to continue with all previous routines, including maintaining bedtime, and keeping the mood positive. We got her into PJs and her toddler sleepsack, we brushed her teeth, read a book, got her cozy under her new sheets with bear, turned her CD player on to softly play her favourite music CD and thought we were set to go. Right up to the point when she told my husband “Right here, right here!” frantically pointing to the space beside her in bed.
This is where our bump occurred. I gently told her no, it was time to go to sleep, and that she had her bear and was safe. My husband on the other hand felt bad for her and laid down with her until she was fast asleep. In an instant he established a really bad precedent that took several days of desperate crying at bedtime to overcome.
Learn from our mistake. Do not fall for the “lie down with me” thing. Instead simply reassure your child that they are OK, and you are just in the next room and not going anywhere.
The challenges don’t stop once your child has successfully transitioned either. After months of sleeping in her own bed all night and waiting for us to come get her in the morning my daughter learned she could get out of bed on her own. This was fine when she woke up from naps but not so wonderful at 4 am. We found that simply taking her back into her room and putting her back in her bed straight away without conversation and just a quick goodnight curbed that behaviour and she now stays in bed until a more appropriate hour.
Just remember, If you keep things positive with a calm environment, a consistent bedtime and reliable routines you will both get through this life changing transition with ease.
Elizabeth is work-at-home-mom of 2 little girls living in urban, south central, Ontario, and was an IT professional in a past life. She started her blog Frugal Mom Eh to share easy, delicious recipes for the family, brilliant DIY & craft projects for all levels, and of course, great parenting advice!