As a Mother, I am quite aware of all the stressful milestones that take place during the toddler and pre-school years. One of these stressful times happens to be transitioning from a crib to a big boy or girl bed. There are several tips and tricks that you can use to make this transition go smoothly and safely for both you and your child.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine when your child is ready to leave the crib. With this decision it is important that you follow the child’s lead. A sure sign is if your child can actually climb out of their crib. This can pose the risk for injury to your child. At young ages, children often do not have the coordination and stability to climb safely, not to mention the risk of falling several feet to the floor.
Children usually transition from their crib to a bed between the ages of 18 months and 36 months according to experts. If they are not climbing out of the crib yet, there is no need to rush it. Dr. Laura Jana, a general pediatrician in Denver, Colorado, and one of Dr. Spock’s experts says “there is no definitive answer to the question of when a child should be switched from a crib to a bed. Each family’s situation is different, and in many ways this issue really boils down to a matter of opinion.” One thing to consider is that the longer a child stays in a crib, the more attached they may become to it and transitioning to a bed may be more difficult.
There are a variety of things that you can try to make it easier on everyone involved. Once you’ve determined that it is time to abandon the crib, set a time-frame for the transition period. The reason for doing this is that it is often easier for the child if they see a bed set up in their room for a couple days while they continue to go to sleep in their own crib. This allows them to mentally adjust to it.
The type of bed that you transition them into is strictly a personal preference. Many choose to place a mattress on the floor initially so that there aren’t any accidental falls from the bed that are from too high up. There are thousands of different styles of beds available today from toddler beds to twin beds and larger. You can find themed beds, beds shaped like cars, canopy beds, etc…The list is endless. Keep in mind that the fancier the bed, the more costly it will probably be, also considering how many years they will be in this particular bed.
Allow them to help create their own space. Take them shopping for the bedding and accessories. Let them choose one special item that they can sleep with each night such as a new teddy bear or other soft cuddly item. Toddler size pillows are usually a better and safer choice than standard size pillows as they are more proportionate to the child’s smaller body. These ideas will comfort them while they try to adjust to their new sleeping arrangement.
Again, safety is always a priority. Be sure to have a means for keeping your child from falling out of the bed such as a bed rail. If the child’s bedside is up against a wall, another great safety item is the Bed Bumper for Big Kids. This will help to prevent nighttime bumps and boo-boos while your child tosses and turns in their sleep, creating a barrier between your child and their wall.
Gradually begin to let them nap in the new bed during the day if they are still taking naps. This is also a great way to actually be awake while they “react” to their new sleeping quarters. After several successful naps, begin getting excited with them about how big they are now. Let them help you disassemble the crib and remove it from the bedroom. Make the whole experience exciting and happy.
To prevent wandering around the house, a gate can be used to segregate them from the rest of the house, either by putting it in their doorway or by putting it in a hallway so that they can only access your room or their own room. Be sure that all precautions are taken with regards to child proofing your home.
It is very important that you are patient and give it time. If you are relaxed and loving during the whole process, your child will do fine and you will all sleep very well.
To sum it all up:
o The bedroom and home should be completely child proofed.
o Make their sleep area fun and interesting, allowing them to choose some décor.
o Make sure there are comforting items in the room; nightlights, stuffed animals.
o Reasonable transition period with new bed in room while child is still in crib.
o Start by having them sleep in the new bed during nap times.
o Be sure to segregate them from other areas of home by use of gate.
o Give it time.