• Kaylee Caldwell

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

So, maybe your child has outgrown their crib and it's time to transition to a bigger bed or maybe they've mastered climbing out of the crib and continuing to use it would be a safety hazard; this blog will walk you through when you should make the transition to a toddler bed, how exactly to go about making the transition, and tips to help you along the way.

When should I transition my child to a toddler bed?

Unless your child has reached the weight/height limits or they are climbing out of the crib and you've taken all measures to keep them in without success, you should keep your child in their crib as close to age 2 or 3 years before making the switch. If your child is climbing out, here are a few things you can try to prevent this:

  1. Lower the mattress to the lowest setting. You have probably already done this!

  2. Put the child in a sleep sack. This can make climbing more difficult and prevent them from getting their leg up and over the crib rail. It can take time for your toddler to get used to wearing a sleep sack if it's new to them, so give it a try for at least 3 nights before deciding a sleep sack won't work. If they know how to unzip the sleep sack and take it off, try putting it on them backwards or inside out!

  3. Turn the crib around so that the highest rail is facing out, this essentially makes the rail taller and makes climbing out almost impossible. This does not stop them from climbing from the side rails**

  4. Put the mattress on the floor IN the crib. Depending on the type of crib, this can work at preventing your child from climbing out. but you should check for any large gaps between the mattress and rail at the bottom of the crib that may lead to the child getting stuck or hurt. Use this tip at your own discretion**

If you have tried all of these tips and your child STILL climbs out, consider making the transition to a toddler bed to prevent them from potentially getting hurt from climbing out of the crib.

How the Toddler Bed Transition Went for Our 18-Month Old

When my step-daughter, Lexi was around a year and a half old, she learned to climb out of her crib. This was pre-sleep consultant Kaylee, so I had no idea about the extra measures we could have taken to keep her in the crib longer. So we decided to switch her to a toddler bed because she kept slipping and falling out of the crib during her attempts to climb out and we were afraid she was going to end up injuring herself, not to mention she was unable to get back into the crib on her own so of course we would have to go in, lay her back down in the crib, leave the room, and repeat the process for hours until finally, she would give up and fall asleep.

We made the transition after a couple of weeks of having the new toddler bed set-up in her room. She would often play on the bed during the day and even voluntarily lay herself down for a nap in the new bed, so that's how we got started familiarizing her with the crib and practicing with naps during the day! Naturally, she hated the idea of the toddler bed once we actually started asking her to sleep in it which led to us then installing a door monkey to prevent her from coming out of the room. She would instantly run to the door crying out for us, despite our efforts of laying her back down repeatedly or trying to ignore her cries, she would fall asleep at the door and this lead to her naps being very, very short. Again, I was not yet a baby and toddler sleep consultant, so I had no idea what to do!

So we dealt with it...for almost a year we were constantly fighting bedtime battles with Lexi. Every night she would throw a tantrum once we laid her down and shut the door. Some nights she would calm herself down and go to sleep, other nights she would continuously get up and peep from under her door asking a million questions in hopes we would open her door and let her out of bed. It was hard and it was exhausting and it wasn't until she was closer to 3 that she began to stay in her bed all night.

So, learn from my story and wait, hold off on transitioning your child to a toddler bed until they are truly ready and can understand why we're asking them to stay in their bed and how to do it.

Alright, now how do I actually make the transition happen?

Before you make the transition, make sure you have taken the following measures:

☑️ Child-proof the room. Now that your child will be free to wander their room, you should treat it as a "big crib". Secure dressers and shelves to the wall, remove any furniture that can cause injury like rocking chairs or toys that require your supervision, and hide/secure any cords, lamps, and electrical items that might be within your child's reach.

☑️ Talk about it before-hand. Tell your child what will be happening, set a date, and make it a special event! Let them pick out their new "big kid" bedding and maybe even a new lovey or stuffed animal to help them have a sense of control over the change, because toddlers love feeling independent, even if they still need help wiping their own tush.

☑️ Install a Door Monkey onto your child's bedroom door. This is probably the most useful tip of all in this blog post. A Door Monkey will prevent your child from being able to open their door and it will save you from having to do many, MANY walk-backs when they get out of their bed.

Once you have child-proofed the room, chosen the bedding, and installed your Door Monkey, go for night one in the toddler bed! The first week will most likely be a learning experience for everyone; figuring out how your toddler will handle the change actually going into affect and what boundaries you will set. Here are favorite tips for this transition!

Tip #1.

Introduce the bed early on before using it. If you don't plan on converting your baby's crib, you can put the new bed together weeks in advance and put it in their room for them to explore it and become familiar with it before you begin having them sleep in it.

Tip #2.

This is a great time to implement a story/book as part of your child's bedtime routine. This allows them to create a positive relationship with their new bed and gives them that extra one-on-one time with you which can help them feel secure.

Tip #3.

If your child ends up having fears like "monsters" being in the closet or under the bed, avoid saying things like, "The monsters won't get you when I am here", this only affirms that the monsters are in fact real, but that they only come out when you're away. Try to leave it at "That stuff only happens in movies, you're safe and I am right outside the door if you need me, but you really need to get some rest, we have a big day of playing tomorrow!". Don't let the last thing you talk about be the monsters, leave the room on a positive note so they don't worry themselves into needing you to come in and talk them out of being scared again.

If you feel ready to make the crib to bed transition with your toddler, but feel like you need support along the way, book a free 15-minute assessment call to get started working together!

www.mamacsleepsolutions.com << book here

Sweet Dreams,