Updated: Feb 19, 2019
When and why should you transition your child from their crib?
A big question a lot of parents ask is - "When the best time to transition a child to a toddler bed?" This transition is so important and is often done too early. Most children can wait until at least their 3rd birthday to make the transition, but if they are doing well in their crib, you can keep them in there longer!
The two main reasons parents transition too early are:
1. The child is climbing out of their crib.
2. They have a baby on the way and want to use the crib for their new baby.
How to handle climbing
You have probably heard people say "as soon as your child climbs out of their crib, that lets you know you need a toddler bed!" This isn't true! There are ways to safely keep an adventurous toddler in their crib for longer.
1. Place the child in a sleep sac. These work great for discouraging climbing and have the added bonus of keeping your child warm all night without needing to replace their blanket for them. If the child is crafty and learns how to take off their sleep sac, simply put it on backwards so the zipper is out of their reach.
2. If the crib has a taller, solid side, try turning the crib around so that the lower side faces the wall.
3. Use a video monitor that has a "talk-back" feature. When you see your child trying to climb out, firmly say "no" through the monitor.
Parents often think that a new baby needs the crib more and this creates a natural time to transition their toddler. It is highly recommended that you buy or borrow a second crib instead of making the transition too early. For many toddlers, their crib is "their" space. They feel secure and comfortable there. A new baby is a big change to the family, often toddlers feel competitive for their parents attention. Now add taking away their special space and giving it to the new baby! This can create a lot of sleep problems for a toddler who was sleeping well in their crib. It is recommended to not make the transition within 3 months in either direction of a new baby. So if you really want to transition before the baby comes, do it 3 months before they make their arrival. Or wait until the baby is 3 months old.
Making the transition
Once you determine your child really is ready to make the change, it is very important to establish "sleep rules" to help them understand what is expected of them with their newfound freedom. Some children make the transition and don't have any problems, but often they will eventually figure out that they can now get out and explore!
To establish these rules, hold a Family Meeting. Have the child sit down and talk to him about how because he is a big boy now and gets a big bed, he will need to follow the rules that come along with that. You can create a poster with his "sleep rules". They can be simple such as "Tommy gets tucked into bed, then he stays in bed until Mom or Dad gets him in the morning." You can add in more specifics tailored to your child's needs. If it's helpful, you can also create a sleep chart for Mom and Dad! Your child can help you decorate their poster with stickers and drawings to help them feel like it is their own. Then each night during their bedtime routine, have them repeat the rules after you.
If the child keeps getting out of bed for unnecessary reasons, it can be helpful to put a gate on their door or close the door. If the child keeps coming out of their room, try to take them back to bed with very little interaction.
Hopefully these tips will help you know when and how to make the transition! If you still have questions, Contact Me and we can figure things out.