The move to a big kid bed is such a big and exciting milestone in your child’s life. No longer are they a little toddler anymore but they are a child with the big responsibility of staying in bed all night. There are no barriers any more keeping them in bed. So how can you make the move go as smoothly as possible? And if there are some hiccups on the way, how can you take action to avoid any long term issues?
Do transition to a big kid bed after your child turns 3 years or even wait until 4 if you can. You can even wait until they ask you for the bed. That will show you that they are ready for the responsibility the move to the big kid bed entails.
Don’t consider transitioning your child because they are having sleep challenges. Rarely does the transition solve any sleep problems. Toddlers can sleep comfortably in a crib until they are well and truly over 3. In fact, my 6-year-old still sleeps in his crib (albeit converted with the side off) quite comfortably.
Don’t transition to a bed when a new baby is on the way or has just been born, as this is not the best time. This could be anxiety provoking for your child because they have been moved from their cozy and comfy crib so their new sibling can use it. Having a new sibling is a hard transition for your child to begin with, without adding other changes as well.
Do get your child involved in as many of the decisions as possible. They can pick out the bed, pillows, sheets and quilt covers.
Don’t forget to safety proof their room to make sure there is nothing that can hurt them if they do get out of bed at night. You may also want to add a safety rail to the bed because it takes some time for a child to learn how to stay in bed. Both my kids had a few episodes of falling out of bed when they transitioned!
Do sit down together as a family and decide together on a day that they will start using their new bed. As well as draw up some sleep rules on a poster that they can hang up in their room. The rules should include the need to stay in bed after mom and dad have said goodnight, concentrate on sleeping and when they can get up in the morning (e.g. when mom and dad come in or when their clock says it is wake up time).
Don’t change anything besides where your child sleeps. The sleep schedule and the bedtime routine should remain the same as when they were in the crib.
Do take action if you find your child starts getting up regularly when they should be trying to sleep. Be consistent with how you respond to this behavior. This can include a reminder nightly about the sleep rules, and consistently returning them quickly and quietly back to bed when they get up.
If you find that your crib to bed transition didn’t quite go as planned and you are having lots of behavior issues, don’t forget to contact me as I’m here to help. We can have a sleep strategy session to talk over your challenges or even a full package so we can address the sleep issues together.