Updated: Jul 11
When is the right time to transition to a toddler bed?
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this it's PLEASE DON'T RUSH IT.
My advice is waiting until your child is 3 years old at the minimum.
Moving out of the crib and into a toddler bed takes cognitive understanding and maturity from your child. Just because they are a certain age or size does not mean they can compute the expectations we expect from them (staying in their bed)
9 times out of 10 the transition will be difficult, and the once 15-minute bedtime routine now turns into an hour +.
Think about it like this.
A crib was once a physical boundary for your child. It was the constant reminder to "stay in bed". Now that that crib is gone, we need to treat the entire room as their boundary and safe space, because they still require that reminder to stay in bed.
Remove all toys in the beginning and make things as safe as possible; bolt down dressers and furniture. As the transition settles, soft toys and books can be introduced back in. The reason why I strongly suggest this is we want to be sure we are giving our children the best opportunity to sleep. That is why they are in bed in the first place, right? Having distractions such as toys, lights, screens and even parents in the room all work against the goal of falling asleep.
A few things you can do to keep your child in a crib longer
Lower the crib mattress to the lowest setting. If this fails to continue working and climbing is still happening, then some cribs will allow the inside frame to be removed and the mattress can lay directly on the floor. Now, there are only some types of cribs that will allow this to happen safely. Cribs that are level on all 4 sides and do not have wide gaps to which your child could hurt themselves.
Watch closely on the monitor and as soon as you see your child start to climb, swiftly enter the room and say, 'your bed is for sleeping, not climbing, please lay down' Repeat that instruction over and over as you see fit.
Put your child in a sleep sack to discourage climbing. Being in a wearable blanket will make it very difficult to maneuver climbing out.
If you are switching from a crib to a bed, it's best to have a plan of action in place!
Things like a family meeting about new expectations, visuals and appropriate/sustainable response from Mom/Dad if they attempt to leave the room.
Some kids do well with the transition, so if it worked for you at a young age I applaud your success. But for most, parents find themselves making bribes, desperate pleas, and playing an exhausting game of ping-pong in and out of the room.
And lastly, it's okay if the transition was a failure. Get the crib back out and try again in 6-months. Sleep is what keeps us clear-minded and patient which is what we all need to survive raising our tiny humans.
Ready to make the crib to bed transition sooner than you thought?! You'll want these tips from our expert sleep consultants at Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting.