When your toddler realizes they can climb out of their crib, their safety becomes a major concern. Knowing tips on how to transition to a toddler bed can make it simple as you go through the process. Here's a toddler-tested technique that will keep your baby sleeping soundly and safely throughout the night.
How to Transition to a Toddler Bed in 5 Easy Steps
A transition is defined as a period of change. This means that switching from a crib to a big kid bed is going to take time. The good news is that if you complete the first two steps early on, you can make the actual move quite quickly! Here's a method that can make transitioning to a toddler bed a simple shift for everyone.
1. Set Up the Bed in Advance
This is a key step for ensuring a quick and successful transition. Think about this from your child's perspective: a new bed is a very exciting item! If you put this in their room and expect them to sleep in it in the same night, you're probably going to be very disappointed. All they might want to do is climb and jump on it.
You need the bed to lose its luster. How do you accomplish this? Put their bed together and leave it in their room for a few weeks. Make sure the toddler pillow, sheets, and blankets are situated too. We also recommend investing in a wireless nightlight and setting that up as well.
For the parents who decide to jump straight to a twin-sized bed to save money, look for frames that are low to the ground and purchase a low-profile box spring. This shortens the distance of any falls, lessening the chance of an injury.
2. Baby Proof the Room
The same day you set up their bed, baby proof their room. This will allow them to get used to the many changes and give them the opportunity to understand their new boundaries. Here are some key baby proofing steps for a toddler's room to better guarantee a safe sleeping space:
- Anchor all furniture to the walls.
- Remove any items that your toddler would be likely to climb on.
- Cover the corners and sharp edges of furniture and built-in room features with foam padding.
- Apply outlet covers and install cord cleats.
- Take out long drapes, anything with wires, and breakable decor that your child could reach.
- Use cable protectors on wires that will remain in the room to remove the danger of accidental strangulation.
- Install a baby gate - look for tall, metal options that you can mount into the wall.
- Put door knob safety covers on closet and bathroom doors that are a part of the bedroom space.
- Buy a bed railing if the bed doesn't come with one.
- Place the bed in a safe space in the room. This should be a few feet away from windows and heating vents.
If you have the closet space, remove your lower closet rod and brackets. Then, move your toddler's dresser into this area and anchor it to the wooden supports where the brackets were situated. This can help to further reinforce the furniture anchor and ensure that your toddler doesn't go on a climbing spree in the night.
Finally, consider removing toys and books from the space. This can help them stay focused on the task at hand - sleeping. The freedom of being able to get up on their own will provide enough excitement. Their play things will only heighten this feeling and hinder your progress.
Parents may also consider only allowing them their specific comfort items, like their blanket or favorite stuffed animals. They can have the rest of their belongings back once the transition is complete.
3. Create a Routine Before Transitioning
If you're wondering how to get your toddler to sleep in their own bed, establishing a routine can make it easier. Once you set everything up and your toddler has had ample time to romp around on their new bed, begin a regular nap and bedtime routine. Pull back the covers, have them get in bed, and read them a story in their new sleep space. Then, put them to bed as usual in their crib.
Over the next few weeks, this practice will become an expected part of their day and they will become more and more comfortable relaxing in this new space. Similarly, get them familiar with their nightlight. Turn it on every night before bed. Soon, the idea of playing with it will become boring.
4. Start Transitioning at Naptime
When your toddler is ready to transition, start small. Begin with your same naptime story routine, but this time, don't move them to the crib. Give them a kiss, wish them a lovely nap, walk straight out the door, and close the baby gate.
It's very likely that they will follow you at this time. Let them. Give them a chance to wander around, have their moment of freedom, and even a possibly a small moment of panic. You want them to decide to get back in the bed. If you force it, they'll probably resist.
After about twenty minutes, if they haven't gotten in bed, go back in their room, tuck them back in, remind them it is time to sleep, and walk back out the door. You'll probably have to do this a few times before they finally go to sleep. As they improve over time, praise their progress! Positive reinforcement can go a long way.
If you want your child to transition to a toddler bed quickly, then wear them out before nap time and bedtime! If they're tired, they're more likely to drift off right after their story and get into a good rhythm in a shorter time frame.
5. Transition at Bedtime
This is the hardest part of the transition because you'll be asleep during this period, which means you will have to place some trust in your toddler. This is the main reason parents should be thorough in their baby proofing efforts. To complete this step, follow the same tips in section four.
It's best not to move to this step until they are sleeping soundly in their bed throughout their naptimes.
Avoid Big Changes When Switching From a Crib to a Toddler Bed
If you want your child to do well with nap and bedtime transitions, it's best to make sure that moving from a crib to a toddler bed the only big change going on in their life. If parents want to avoid regressions, they should avoid making multiple big life or schedule changes all at once.
Therefore, don't make this transition to the toddler bed right before an upcoming vacation or the start of school. You'll also probably want to wait if you are in the midst of potty training or if you are nearing the arrival of their little brother or sister.
Prepare for Setbacks
The final step of transitioning to a toddler bed is preparing for setbacks. Every parent will find their progress abruptly hindered by something - illness, teething pain, sleep regressions, schedule changes, nightmares, or even the display of a new skill.
Be patient and look at the big picture. It's likely that their sudden resistance to sleeping in their big kid bed has nothing to do with the actual bed. Keep up with your routines and continue to place them back in their bed as they get up throughout the night. Over time, they will overcome these setbacks and get back to sleeping soundly in their toddler bed!