From the Crib to the Bed: How to Transition Your ChildSep 01, 2022 ● By The Hood Magazine
By: Sanford Health
Each child is unique when it comes to the perfect time to make the move to the “big bed.” While there are exceptions, most children should transition out of the crib between 18 months and three years. The right time is different for each child and each family. If your child can crawl out of their crib, they should move into a bed for their safety. Additionally, some families choose to make the move so the crib can be used for a sibling.
Picking the right bed
There are several options for toddler beds. Many cribs can transition to a toddler bed by lowering the mattress and removing one of the railings. Only do this if it is a part of your crib’s design. The crib mattress can move to the ground as a temporary option. Additionally, toddler beds are available. They fit crib-sized mattresses and are close to the floor. Toddlers can also be transitioned directly to a twin or full-sized bed. These mattresses can be placed directly on the floor. If you use a frame, place rails on both sides to ensure your child’s safety. Even if the bed is up against a wall, it is recommended to use a rail on both sides to prevent your child from becoming stuck between the wall and the mattress.
Before you make the transition, discuss it with your little one. Let them know the change is coming and incorporate them into the process. Let them help pick out new bedding. When it is time for the change, work to make this the only transition they are undergoing. Avoid making this change while potty training, starting a new school or daycare, or at the time of a new sibling’s birth. If a new sibling is coming along, try transitioning to the new bed at least two months before the baby’s arrival. Let them help you set up the new bed. Avoid simply moving the crib to another room. Try to disassemble it so it is not something your child can see anymore. If possible, place the new bed where the crib was previously positioned (you can rearrange it later). Double-check your toddler’s room to make sure it is childproof. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to ensure dressers are secure and outlets have covers, as your little one will have more access to their room than ever before.
Keep the routine
For the first night’s sleep in the new bed, try to maintain the same bedtime routine as before. This can help your child feel like this is a normal transition. Move comfort items such as blankets and stuffed animals to the new bed. Avoid lying in bed with your child. This isn’t something you did with them in the crib, and if you introduce the idea with the new bed, it may become difficult to break that habit. Encourage your child’s accomplishment in this transition and let them know how proud you are of their achievement of being “a big kid.”
Inevitably, your little one will start exploring their new freedom. It is common for them to get out of their bed frequently. Work to have positive reinforcement as your focus. Avoid rewards for getting out of bed, such as allowing an extra story, extra drink, or time in your bed. Reward them for a good night staying put. Sticker charts can be very effective at this age! Once they have stayed a few nights, celebrate your child’s accomplishment and prepare for the next transition.