How to Make the Move from the Crib to a Toddler Bed

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Feeding & Sleeping, Development: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Sleep


Is your toddler ready for his own bed? Credit: Getty Images

They've slept in their cribs for months -- or years -- but at some point, it's time to move your little ones into beds.

Generally, kids start this transition anywhere from 18 to 30 months, and, as each child develops differently, the adjustment can take more than one night or week. Here are some tips for easing the sleeping arrangement change.

Deciding it's time.
Moving a child from a crib -- or your bedroom -- to a toddler bed depends on a number of factors, including determining whether your child is ready to sleep alone.

Also, consider whether nightly feedings might keep your child from transitioning. If so, the added stress caused by moving to a separate bedroom or toddler bed could be more than you can handle. Start to decrease night feedings in an effort to create less nighttime dependence. Since the crib or cosleeping is a nurturing, comfortable place, you may need to sell your child on the idea.

Safety concerns. Children who pull themselves over a guardrail or shake the railings may be signaling that the crib is no longer a secure place. Other children may show signs of outgrowing the crib by waking up as they wiggle around and bump into the crib railings.

Choosing a bed. During the changeover, take your child's age into consideration when it comes to selecting a bed and determining its placement. An easy transition for a child older than 18 months might be the baby mattress, an adult mattress or a futon placed on the floor next to the parents' bed. Gradually increase the distance between your bed and the child's to help with the different sleep arrangement. If the child has difficulty with the move, decrease the space when necessary.

Moving rooms. If your child will be sleeping in his own room, a low-to-the-ground toddler bed -- which uses the child's crib mattress and familiar bedding -- is a good option. An adult bed or futon kept low to the ground might also work well -- just add a box spring or bed frame during a future shift. Railings, added to a toddler bed or adult-sized bed, allow an extra element of safety between the bed and the floor.

Get your child accustomed to sleeping alone by sitting down or lying next to the new bed with him and perhaps reading a few books as he drifts to sleep. Other kids simply need you to check in on them periodically.

Stay patient throughout the transition process, and realize that independent sleep might, at first, seem scary to your child. Be compassionate to your child's needs to discover what works best.

Related: Co-Sleeping: Is it Right for You?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.