Making the decision to transition your little one from a crib to a toddler bed can be a big decision. And not just for the sake of them, it can be positively heartbreaking taking apart the crib and wondering where your tiny little baby has gone. Having said that the following is based purely on what is best for your little one and not just trying to keep them as babies for as longer.
So my best advise would be to keep them in their cage, sorry crib, for as long as humanly possible. Generally around the age 3 most little ones are ready for this transition but as a rule I’d say don’t do it before the age of 2 and a half.
“But they climbed out the crib!” Don’t panic, 99% of out little ones do this but it’s not often a continual thing and most of them go back to sleeping soundly in their crib without any further escape missions attempted. Transitioning your little one to a toddler bed at the first sign of climbing out can often lead to a premature transition. Taking away the security and familiarity of the crib can open a whole can of worms that you have to be sure you are ready for before you make the transition.
The most common problematic outcome of premature transition is multiple night time wakings, and waking you up to help them go back to sleep. This is because they have lost the comfort and security of their crib, their room seems a lot bigger and this is often when little ones develop a fear of the dark. They are feeing vulnerable and scared and are now able to leave their beds so it’s quite understandable that their first port of call would be to wake you up to help them feel safe in their beds again.
However, if you are worried about your little one hurting themselves if they do make a repeat escape attempt then there are some great crib tents available such as the Baby Cot Safety Pop Up Tent from 1st Baby Safety. These will stop your little ones from being able to climb over the top of their cribs.
So is your little one mature enough to handle the responsibility of the freedom of a toddler bed? The key to success when transitioning to a toddler bed revolves around communication. Are they able to understand the “rules of a staying in bed” at nighttime? If they are then that’s a great sign they are ready.
Preparation is also really helpful when transitioning to a toddler bed. Talk to your little one in advance about what is going to happen, show them pictures of what it will look like. Read story books about it and involve them in their choices as much as possible when it comes to buying new bedding for example.
Keep things as familiar as possible in their bedroom, for example, try and keep their bed in the same position in their room. A toddler bed is a big step for our little ones so if you do need to redecorate or rearrange their room do it in stages and wait until they are used to their bed first as too many changes can be seriously overwhelming for them.
Stick to their routine like glue. A lot of the time when our little ones are poorly the routine goes out the window as you all go in to survival mode. So don’t try and transition your little one unless they are well and ready for the change. Being able to stick to their routine will reinforce that even though their bed is different, the same rules and processes still apply. The routine will also encourage the natural flow of melatonin to support them going to sleep successfully.
However, even if all the circumstances are perfect and the stars are aligned in your favour, our little ones will inevitably test us during this phase. They will get out of bed and will push the boundaries just to make absolutely sure the same “night time rules still apply”. So it’s important to remain patient with them and when they get out of bed remind them “it’s night time” and put them straight back to bed.
Praise is also vitally important during the toddler bed transition. Praise them for sleeping in their “big bed” and focus on the positives. This can be really tough if you had to put them back to bed a hundred times but focus on the fact they managed to go to sleep eventually and stay asleep in their bed. This helps to give them the confidence that they can sleep in a “big bed” and they will also start to take a lot of pride in that fact.
If you need help transitioning your little one to a toddler bed, or if you want to talk through if it is the right time for you and your family then please get in touch. I offer FREE 15 minute phone consultations to talk through such issues, as well as others, and would be glad to help.