Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed is a major childhood milestone. There is no set time for making the move. But if your child climbs over the side of the crib or begs to get out because "it's for babies," it may be time to make the switch for your child's safety and happiness.
A toddler bed is like a shrunken version of a twin bed that can use your crib's mattress. It may come in fun designs like a race car. When selecting a toddler bed, look for one that's close to the ground, sturdy and has guardrails on both sides (the guardrails may be built in).
To ease the transition, you can place the bed where the crib was, though some parents prefer to keep the crib in the room for a gradual transition. Be sure both beds are away from windows, drapes, curtains, blinds and lamps. Put some cushioning such as pillows or a sleeping bag on the floor to cushion falls.
The change may be hard for some children and easy for others. All will eventually adjust.
Follow these tips to help ease the transition:
Make it fun. Involve your child in choosing his new bed (if he's getting a new one) and kid-friendly comforters, sheets and other bedding. If he's nervous about the change, he may be soothed by continuing to use his crib bedding. Make the bed together and let your child set up his stuffed animals. If the bed was previously used by a sibling, cousin, neighbor or friend, tell your child about that person. When visitors come over, let him show off his new bed to them.
Minimize pressure. Set up the bed, but don't force your child to sleep in it. He can nap there or you can read together on it before bedtime, and then he can sleep in his crib overnight. This will help him realize that his bed is a happy place that's all his own.
Maintain routine. If you always read him a story at night, do that. If you give him a bath right before bedtime, keep that the same. Normalcy will help promote a smooth transition.
Sleep with him. In the beginning, you may need to lie down on the floor until he falls asleep to help him adjust to his new sleep setting. Then, based on what's right for your child, work on getting him to sleep without you.
Properly time it. New sibling in the house? In the process of potty training? Starting preschool? Moving? Getting rid of the pacifier? You may want to wait a bit to avoid having too many big changes at the same time.
Read a story. Check out some books from the library or purchase some about making the transition. Show your child how he is just like the character in the book.
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