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Most children transition from a crib to a toddler bed between the ages of 18 months and 3-years-of age. There’s no set age, per se, on when this transition should happen, as there are many factors that will influence it. For example, it may not be time yet if your child is still very attached to their crib.
We wanted to keep our daughter in her crib until she could crawl out of it. She was able to do this a few months after she turned 2, so it was definitely time to transition to a “big kid bed.” One night she climbed out and couldn’t figure out how to get down off the crib, so we were afraid she could wind up hurting herself if we didn’t make the transition.
When you do make this transition, ensure that your child is happy, healthy, and well-rested. As with most big changes in routines, this will make things go more smoothly.
1.Convertible crib: We chose a crib that can be converted into a toddler bed. For example, we chose a crib such as this one:
So, this crib can be converted into a toddler bed, as well as a full bed (but the bed frame for this is not included). This allowed us to get more use out of her crib as she kept growing. We hope to eventually use it as a full bed.
When you do convert this to a toddler bed, you may consider adding a bed rail, so your child won’t fall out of the bed. You might go with this one-
This one has steel clamps that can be used to anchor the bed rail to the bed itself. This helps keep the bed rail from slipping out of place (and in turn, a little less stress for you that your child will fall out of the bed!).
My husband’s godparents have a bed like this for my daughter to sleep in when she visits. This was actually where she spent her first night in a “big kid bed.” This works just as well.
3.Put a mattress on the floor
You may also choose to put a mattress on the floor, so your child won’t roll out of a bed.
I would advise against using bunk beds, as these are not safe for children under the age of 6.
1.Keep the bed away from drapes, blinds/cords, heat registers, or wall or floor lamps.
2.Place a soft rug or even pillows next to the bed in case of falls. When my toddler slept in the toddler bed (the second bed listed above), she fell on the floor. It still can happen even with those side rails that are attached to the bed.
3.Check for any loose screws or hardware on the bed.
4.Keep any dangerous items out of reach of children in case they do get up out of bed at night.
5. Bolt book shelves and dressers to the wall.
6. I was a little worried about my daughter leaving her room at night and possibly even going outside. She never did, but if you think this might be a concern for your child, there are alarms and things you can get to help this.
I would start by exploring their feelings. Are they excited about it or do they still seem attached to their crib?
I would also have a conversation with your child about how excited you are that he or she is growing up and making the change to a big kid bed. If they seem a little resistant to it, try putting the new bed in the same place as the old bed and assure your child that it will be just as cozy. If, however, your child is very enthusiastic about it, involve your child in putting the new bed together. This may involve picking a stuffed animal or 2 (or 10 in the case of my daughter) to put on the bed or even picking out some new bedding together!
Spend some time with your child cuddling and reading in the new bed. Keep in mind that transitions take some time, so continually reassure your child that he or she is doing great!
It was only day 2 when my daughter started getting up out of bed at least 10 times. I would keep guiding her back to the bed. Unfortunately, I got to the point where I didn’t know what to do, so I let her watch cartoons until she feel asleep. This, honestly, was a mistake I made. Eventually, she was staying up way too late!
One option for handling this is to use a sticker chart for rewards for staying in bed. Also, I should have been more consistent. It would have been better if I stuck to just taking her back to her room and reminding her that she needed to stay in bed. In time, I think she would have gotten the point!
At the same time though, ensure your child is not sick or needs to use the bathroom. If you can rule that out, remain consistent in helping your child get back to bed! But, get out of the room as quickly as you can without engaging in much conversation. This also helps children learn that this is bedtime and not playtime.
In time, it would become routine for your child! 🙂
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Hargis, A. (2018). Toddler discipline for every age and stage: Effective strategies to tame tantrums, overcome challenges, and help your child grow. Rockridge Press: Emeryville, CA.
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