October 24, 2012 - We all knew it would happen one day but we're never really prepared for it. Wasn't it just yesterday when we watched our baby take her first steps of independence?
The first time you see your toddler trying to climb over the side rail of the crib is the very moment you should start planning a transition from crib to bed. Most toddlers make the transition to a big bed somewhere between 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 years of age. This is not just a big step for your toddler, but more so, a big step for you. Here are some helpful hints that may assist you in the process from crib to bed and bear in mind that this transition may take a little longer than you expected.
Childproof your Toddler's Bedroom
- To childproof your toddler's bedroom from her perspective, sit on the floor in the middle of the room and ask yourself what safeguards you need to put into place to provide a secure environment.
- Replace standard electrical outlet covers with childproof covers.
- Make sure mini-blind, drapery, and curtain cords are well out of reach and keep the windows locked at all times.
- Anchor dressers and large furniture to the walls and limit access to drawers and closets with childproof locks.
- Remove toys or other small objects that could become a potential choking hazard.
- Put any potentially hazardous materials, such as disposable diapers in an appropriate container in the closet.
- Consider placing a gate in the doorway to prevent nighttime travelling through the house.
Be Thoughtful, Supportive, Kind, and Positive
- Tell your toddler that you are very excited that she is old enough to sleep in a big bed.
- Mention the names of her friends and other family members that are sleeping in big beds.
- Take your toddler shopping to help you pick out new bedding.
- Pack away the crib even if you will be using it again in the future. If your toddler sees the crib, it could become a difficult negotiating game. The 'out of sight – out of mind' method may benefit you.
- Make your toddler's new bed really cozy by asking her to place her favourite stuffed animals and pillows in special places around the bed.
- If it's possible, place the new bed in the same location as the crib.
- Consider adding soothing music to your toddler's bedroom. She will fall asleep more easily while listening to familiar music and over time, her body will begin to settle down when the music begins.
Establish a Routine
- Before going to bed, tell your toddler what you will be doing together to prepare for bedtime and get her excited about the prospect.
- Use the same nightly routine that you had when your toddler slept in the crib, i.e. bath, pajamas, read the same stories, sing her favourite songs, and turn off the lights.
- It's not a good idea to transition your toddler from the crib to a bed while toilet training or during any other major event, for instance, starting pre-school, moving to a new house or the arrival of a new brother or sister. Consider transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed 6 to 8 weeks before your due date.
Be Prepared for Delay Tactics
- Toddlers can come up with a myriad of excuses and ploys not to go to bed.
- Anticipate your toddlers' needs i.e. sippy cup, pacifier, favourite blanket and soft toy animal, and make sure you have them on hand.
- Do not force your toddler to move from the crib to the bed, but be firm. Allow her some time to become adjusted to the idea.
- Snuggle with your toddler for a few minutes and tell her how much you love her new bed – it's so beautiful and cozy!
Be Loving but Hold Your Ground
- Your toddler will test the limits of her newly acquired freedom by roaming around the room. It is very important to walk your toddler back to her new bed.
- If your toddler cries – comfort her and tell her that she needs to learn to sleep in her new bed, but that you will help her by staying with her for a while. At the beginning of this transition, stay as close to the bed as you can. This eases the transition and lets your toddler learn to fall asleep in the new bed.
- Use the following sentence as a negotiating tool: "If you stay in your bed I can keep your door open; but if you keep getting up out of bed I may need to close the door."
- If your toddler engages you in conversation just say, “I will be happy to talk with you about this but not tonight. Perhaps we can talk about it over breakfast. It’s time to sleep now and have sweet dreams.”
- Transitioning a toddler from a crib to a big kid bed may seem like a small achievement but to a toddler this is a very big event. Celebrate each accomplishment together and your children will grow up happy and confident.