If you have a toddler, you most certainly know how challenging it is to face some of their milestones. At this stage and age, they are quite unpredictable, their individuality and their character are becoming stronger and hard to ignore, so there are no strict rules that can lead you through parenthood properly.
When it comes to your baby’s sleeping arrangements, you know that sometime soon you should make a transfer from crib to a toddler bed, but you are not sure how and when exactly. That’s why we are here. This is a natural and exciting time for your family, so here are some guidelines and tips that will make this change smooth and easy. Just don’t overthink things. You are their parent, and you know intuitively what your child needs.
When to Switch to a Toddler Bed?
The question – when to transition to a toddler bed can be very tricky. Although some experts say that your baby can be ready for this next step by the age of two, most of them agree that you should wait until they are three or four years old. That’s because smaller children are not aware of boundaries and the rules, so they might get up and wander around the house in the middle of the night, which is a thing you don’t want for sure.
The crib walls are there to make them safe and protected, and this indeed is a huge deal for them. But, if you notice they are starting to climb on them, or you hear them expressing the desire to sleep in a bigger bed, the timing might be right.
Also, bear in mind that they need to be aware of what this change of scenario means. It is essential to present this to little ones as a reward. It would be best for them to believe that they earned this right thanks to their great sleeping habits, and to make them feel important and ready to sleep in a big-kids kind of a bed.
How to Transition Baby to a Toddler Bed?
You need to make this an exciting step in order for your kid to accept it fully. So here is some advice that will help you with it, and prepare the little ones for this fun new chapter in their lives.
Since toddlers can be quite difficult to work with, and crazy stubborn if they want to be, you should let them be involved in this process. So, when you decide that it is time to go and buy new pillows, sheets and other essentials, bring them with you, ask them for opinion, and let them pick some of that stuff by themselves. If you do it like that, they will most likely be super enthusiastic about sleeping in their new bed, even better they won’t be able to wait for it.
It would be best if you could place the new bed right where the crib mattress was. The change won’t be shocking for them that way, so if they wake up in the middle of the night, they won’t feel confused or lost. It’s up to you to decide if the bed needs to be next to the wall, or if you want them to have access to it from all sides. It depends on how much tossing and turning is happening while they are unconscious.
If you ever wondered how to get a baby to sleep in a crib, the key is to make her feel safe while she is in it. It’s the same with toddlers. You have to make everything that’s in your power to create an identical feeling for them when they are in their new bed. That includes their favourite blanket, familiar sheets, stuffed toys they like to hug when they are asleep, and so on.
The little ones sometimes don’t handle well huge changes in their everyday life. So given that they are leaving their crib and starting to sleep in a grown-up bed, which is a pretty big deal in their young lives, you should make sure nothing else is changed. So, the time when they usually go to bed, the pajamas they like to wear, the bedtime stories, and all other routines should remain exactly the same.
There is a quite large possibility that your kids will fall from the bed once or twice, given that they are used to having crib walls as a security mechanism. So if you bought a bed that has no side rails, make sure to get them immediately. Also, put a soft rug, blankets or bunch of pillows on both sides of the bed just in case. If they manage to get to the floor, this will help them stay safe and unharmed.
It is a well-known fact that kids learn best from example. They tend to understand things better if they have a context they can place new things at. So our suggestion is to use books in order to achieve that. Read them stories about kids who are ready to make a transition from crib to bed. They will understand what’s in front of them, and even better, and they will probably be willing to experience it, just like the characters from the book.
When you are a kid, you cannot wait to become a grown-up. The little ones tend to pretend that they are fine even when they are troubled with something because they want to show to their parents that they are not babies anymore. Don’t forget about that and acknowledge that this might be stressful for them. Use empathy and talk to them about your experiences, how you felt when you first started sleeping in a regular bed, for example.
Choosing a Toddler Bed for Your Little One
When choosing the first bed for your kid, know that you have two options. There is a regular toddler bed that’s actually a mini version of a twin bed, and it’s usually in the shape of a car, castle, or some other cartoon object. The other choice is a classic twin bed that has safety rails attached. When you decide which one would be a better choice for you, then there are a couple more things you need to consider.
You want a sturdy and good quality mattress for kids since there will be a lot of jumping, tossing, turning, rolling and bouncing on it. It needs to be able to withstand all that. And while we are at the mattress topic, be absolutely sure it will fit your new bed frame. It would be best to buy a standard size sleeping surface or to purchase both bed and mattress together.
Then you should make sure the bed is placed low, near the ground. That way, you will limit the injuries that may happen if kids fall from it. And the best thing would be to choose a bed that has no headboard and footboard with some ornamentation to prevent them from getting hurt by bumping their heads.
Most people agree that it is not a good idea to place the bed right next to the wall, because there is a risk of having their arms and legs trapped between the wall and the mattress or bed frame. If you, however, believe that’s the best option because they tend to toss a lot, put some kind of pillow protector along the whole bed length.
Cushion the Floor
Once again, don’t forget to make the floor all around the bed soft and cozy with a lot of blankets, pillows and nice and gentle rugs. It’s almost certain the little ones will wake up every now and then right on it because they rolled down from the bed during their sleep.
It would be best if you could place the headboard of your new bed right against the wall. You really want to avoid them getting stuck between that part of the bed and the wall. And it’s almost sure they will try to slip through if you leave them enough space.
How long does it take to make the transition from crib to bed?
Every child is individual, so there are no strict rules you can rely on, but parents who got through this phase say that it will take around two weeks for them to fully adjust to this novelty. Of course, there are kids who will spend the first night in their new bed without any fuss, while others may cry, fight it in different ways, run to your bed during the night, etc.
Do toddler beds use crib mattresses?
There are some toddler beds that can use the same mattress that goes in a crib. Thanks to that you won’t be pressured on purchasing this item too immediately, which will save you some money.
This is a truly big deal in your child’s life, and the necessary step you need to take together. Many parents make a mistake by pressuring their little ones to transit to the real bed before they are ready because most of their peers already did, or because they need the crib for the new baby. But we don’t recommend that. This shouldn’t be stressful for them, they should feel all excited and rewarded by being able to finally get out of that little crib. Of course that there can and probably will be some confusion, maybe even resistance or crying in the middle of the night when they wake up and don’t see their familiar surroundings, but that’s all normal. They just need to feel safe, and you know the best way to accomplish that.