Did you know that there is not a magical age as to when you need to transition your toddler out of their crib? We usually suggest keeping them in their crib for as long as possible, and this can be up until 3.5-4 yrs of age! The transition to a toddler bed is a big one, and if your child is doing great in their crib, there is no need to rush it! The reason we encourage you to keep your child in their crib for as long as possible, is because this transition comes with a lot of freedom, and if you're little one isn't developmentally ready - you may find yourself with a lot of unnecessary sleep disturbances and bedtime battles! Before you go ahead and take the leap, it is important to make sure that your little one is really ready. First I will discuss a few reasons NOT to transition your little one to a toddler bed:
Expecting a New Baby
Unless it’s early on in your pregnancy or your toddler is climbing out of their crib and you are unable to stop them, making the transition so you can use the crib for your new baby isn’t always ideal. The addition of a new baby to the family can be challenging for toddlers on it’s own. Throw in another transition, and it can be overwhelming for both you and your toddler. Try to avoid any changes in the three months leading up to your new baby’s arrival and for three months after their arrival.
If you’re considering a floor bed or toddler bed for your little one as a last ditch effort because you’re experiencing difficulties with their sleep, I urge you to keep your child in their crib until they are climbing out. We would be happy to help you with a personalized sleep plan to get your little one sleeping in their crib!
If your toddler is still happily and safely sleeping in their crib without climbing out, rethink your decision to make the transition! The longer your little one stays within the boundaries of their crib, the more mature they will be when the time comes and the more likely it will be that your child will understand the need to stay in their bed just like they did their crib.
However IF your toddler has just started to climb out of their bed, there are a few things you can do to delay the toddler bed transition:
Lower the Crib Mattress
First, lower the crib mattress to the lowest setting possible.
If you’re toddler isn’t already wearing a sleep sack, it’s never too late to start! The sleep sack is a perfect way to limit their ability to lift their little legs over the side of the crib to prevent them from climbing out. If you have a little rascal that likes to unzip their sleep sack, turn it backwards to make it more challenging!
Empty Their Crib
Be sure that there is nothing in the crib that they can stand on and use to boost themselves up and out of their crib. This should make it more difficult for them to climb out.
Move Their Crib
If your child’s crib is taller on the back than the front, try turning it around so the high part is towards the room. You can also move the crib into the corner of the room, to eliminate more surface area that enables them to climb out.
If you’ve tried all these tricks and your toddler continues to escape their crib, it’s time to make the transition! It can certainly be a process, but there are some things you can do to make the transition easier!
Prepare The Room
Now that your little one is no longer confined to the boundaries of their crib, it will be even more important to ensure that their room is safe. Be sure to cover all the plugs, secure the furniture, eliminate unnecessary cords or use cord covers, etc. It might also be helpful to store their toys elsewhere so there are no distractions during the night. You will want to treat their room as one big crib, because they will now have free range of the space during the night. If you feel your toddler is likely to open the door and leave their room, it might be helpful to purchase a door monkey, baby gate or door alarm so you are alerted when they open their door.
Involve Your Toddler
Toddlers love to feel a sense of control, so it will be really important to involve them as much as you can! Take them shopping to pick out their new bed or bedding, allow them to pick a new stuffed animal to sleep in their bed with them or a special bedtime book.
Prepare Your Child
Talk about this upcoming transition with your child. If your child isn’t climbing out of their crib yet, but you know the time will come soon, create a visual calendar for them to check of the days before their big kid bed. Keep the conversation exciting and positive, but also discuss the boundaries of their room once they are in a big kid bed. This will help them prepare for the upcoming transition.
Consider an Okay-to-Wake Clock
If your little one doesn’t already use one, now is a great time! It will serve as a visual reminder of when it is time to get out of bed. If your little one already uses one – keep it up and reinforce the meaning of the coloured light!
Avoid Other Changes
Moving to a big kid bed can be stressful. They will be sleeping in a new environment and this can cause a few bumps in the road. Try to be very consistent with everything else relating to their sleep, such as their bedtime routine and your response to nighttime awakenings.
Reinforce Successful Nights
Toddlers are typically very visual. You may find it beneficial to implement a sticker chart to create buy in with your toddler and to encourage your little one to stay in their bed overnight.
Like any other transition, the transition to a toddler bed can be a tough one, especially if done prematurely. Just remember, this is a phase and you’ll be on the other side of it in no time. If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a personalized sleep plan for your little one. Our personalized sleep programs include; structured daytime routines, nutritional facts, feeding schedules, a nap schedule & nap transition guide, crib to toddler bed transition information, sleep regression tips, and a step by step plan to guide your little on to solid, consistent restful 12 hour nights!
Visit www.theslumbernest.com to book your free consultation today!
- Certified Pediatric Șleep Consultant