One of the most significant milestones in an infant’s life is transitioning from the crib to a toddler bed. Most children are eager to change their entrapped space for one that is large and free. However, the process can be quite tricky for both the parent and the child.
Since the confinements of a crib are all the young one has ever known, giving up their comfort zone does not come easily. It’s the equivalent of going from a twin-size bed to a king-size in the adult world. You need to learn how to manage all that space, and your sleep will be slightly interrupted.
Thankfully, pediatricians have a few tricks to help you ensure that this transitional period isn’t as difficult as it seems.
9 Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to a Toddler Bed
1. Make Sure The Timing Is Right
Many parents try to rush getting the crib out of the house to set up an average bedroom. However, you don’t want to get into too big of a hurry. Medical experts show that the best time to transition a child from a crib to a toddler bed is between 2-3 years of age.
It isn’t until this age that the toddler is mentally capable of making such a change. If you try to make the transition too early, then it can be counterproductive. Many children will reject the new bed if the transfer happens when they are not ready, and it can take longer than usual for them to make such an adjustment.
The young one must be capable of acknowledging and accepting such a change, or it could be a complete disaster. Sure, you want to toss the baby décor and opt for something that shows their individuality, but you must be patient.
2. Communicate With Them About The Transition
When it comes to making significant changes that involve your baby, communication is critical. Is your child asking to be moved to a toddler bed? You want to make sure you have their input on the process.
They may be entirely against making such a change as they have formed attachments to their crib. You know that feeling when you’re on a trip, and you don’t sleep right because you’re not in your bed? Well, your toddler feels that sensation during the switch.
They may be cranky and not sleeping their best during the initial switch. However, it’s always best if you have their input on the situation. If they are eager to get a big bed, then it’s going to be less of a transition for them.
However, if they are adamant that they don’t want a new bed, then you may need to wait a bit and broach the subject again. When it’s their idea, things always go much smoother than when you’re the only one eager to adjust.
3. Get Them Involved In The Toddler Bed Buying Process
Taking a young child shopping is typically not a fun experience, but it’s essential to bring along your young one when shopping for a toddler bed. When they are involved in the selection process, it makes them more eager to accept the change. Plus, they are the one that must sleep in the bed, so let them voice an opinion.
It’s just like with foods, if they help to cook them, then they are more willing to try new offerings. So when considering bed shopping, always include their input. Don’t be surprised if they pick something that appeals to their taste and not yours.
Keep in mind that while they may choose something a little cartoonish or themed with their current likings, but it’s just a transitional bed. The toddler bed is not as significant of a purchase as a twin or full-sized bed, where they will spend many years to come.
4. Make Sure They Don’t Still Need A Crib
Some children still need the confines of a crib. They need to be enclosed so that they don’t wander the house getting into mischief. If you cannot leave your young one alone for any period, even five minutes, then it may not be the right time to make a switch.
Part of being mentally ready is that they can get in and out of bed without wreaking havoc on the home. If they will get into the fridge and bust eggs on the flour, smear toothpaste on the walls, and destroy the house while you sleep, then it’s best to hold off a bit longer.
5. Establish a Bedtime Routine
Pediatricians say that bedtime routines are practical for both the parent and child. If you want your baby to sleep in their new bed, then you need to make it a part of their regular schedule. For instance, bath time follows a story while being tucked into bed.
When a child knows what to expect, they can adjust easier. Make bath time fun with bubbles, toys, and interaction with mom and dad. Also, let them pick the story for the night, or you can make up your own stories for even more engagement.
Being tucked into bed won’t be such a big chore, no matter where they are sleeping, if they have that close interaction with their parents. The story and snuggle time will mean so much to them that they could care less about the transfer to the toddler bed. Try incorporating other relaxation techniques too.
6. Incorporate White Noise
Many people leave the cribs in their room until their child is ready for a toddler bed. While that’s not the best situation, it can make switching to a new sleeping arrangement more difficult. If your baby is accustomed to having the sound of a television, radio, or dad snoring, then being in a room all alone can be hard to adjust.
The use of white noise enhances sleep in youngsters. It helps them to drown out the silence and focus on the comfort of ocean waves, the sound of a fan, or even raindrops. The little machines that can produce these sounds are very inexpensive, and it may be the thing that gets them to sleep in their toddler bed with ease.
Some experts believe that white noise also helps children who suffer from night terrors. So it’s worth investing a little bit of money to see if it’s helpful.
7. Set Firm Boundaries
Rules are set to help a child know their boundaries. When it comes to bedtime, you will need to set some guidelines. Switching to a toddler bed may give your little one an excuse to push the limits of your patience.
For instance, some families say that a child can have one drink of water and may use the restroom one time before bed. Of course, you must be flexible for times when they aren’t feeling well, or you need to make other considerations.
A child will use every excuse in the book to get out of bedtime, especially if they are not comfortable in their bed. By setting firm boundaries and using a counting system, they will know if they don’t follow the rules, then they will face the consequences. Don’t let your anger get the best of you as you will only make their fear worse.
8. Consider A Convertible Bed
Many cribs on the market can be used as a bed clear through to adulthood. These convertible cribs will turn into a toddler bed, and later to a twin size. Your child may have little need to adjust much if they have one section of the bed removed that allows them freedom.
You must consider that if your child is above 50 lbs., and they have mastered the art of climbing out of the crib, then it’s safer to put them into a toddler bed. If you continue to allow them to sleep in one that they have outgrown, then it can be dangerous.
A convertible crib is worth the investment because they accommodate the child from birth through graduation with little adjustments. It’s just one of those things that most parents wish they knew sooner.
9. Make The Whole Experience Exciting
Most babies love the thought of becoming a big boy/girl. If you are excited about the changes from crib to a toddler bed, then they will likely jump on the bandwagon. If you are sad and crying because your baby is growing up, then they may feed off that negative emotion.
Talk up the new bed like it’s the best thing on the planet. Let them pick out their bedding, selecting special pillows that will enhance their sleep. Choosing a night light and a few other things to make the room comfier will help to ease them into the transition too.
The more positive you are about the situation, the more optimistic your child will also be. Even if you must get animated and cheer at the milestone they have reached, any reinforcement from their parent will help.
Making the change from a crib to a regular bed is not going easy on you or your child. However, it would help if you remained positive. By getting the child involved in the process of choosing the bed and comforter, then they will feel like they are part of this change. Finally, set firm boundaries and don’t make the change until they are ready.