Taking baby from crib or family bed to big kid bed can be fun. It doesn’t have to be stressful, though it can be a hair-raising experience if you’re not well-prepared. Getting baby to stay in bed voluntarily seems to be the thing that really stumps most parents, though they are often concerned about bumps and bruises from falling out. All four of my children have gone from crib to toddler bed without any trouble, using these tips:
Form good sleep habits early. The best way to accomplish this is to have a bed time and stick to it. If you form good sleep habits early in babyhood, you’ll have less trouble making your child understand that it’s sleeping time when you put him in his toddler bed for the first time. Have a predictable routine and a reasonable bedtime. (Hey, I know some parents who should take that advice for themselves! Like, um, me.)
Start as soon as possible. When I see parents of three year olds asking how to get their big kid to stay in the bed, I’m tempted to offer them the utterly useless advice that they should have done that a year ago. By the time a child’s will has formed to the point where he can envision playing at nap time instead of sleeping, it’s too late! It’s not that you can’t do it, but that it is going to be much harder. 18 to 24 months sounds small for a big kid bed, but it is perfectly safe. Unless your child still isn’t sleeping through the night, this is the optimal age for moving out of the crib.
Be vigilant. If you’ve already packed up the baby monitor, now might be a good time to get it back out. You’ll need to know what your baby is doing for a few days and nights. If he gets up, you’ll need to put him back to bed as quickly as possible. Stolen play time is sweet. Don’t let him taste it!
Be safe. Some genius on the internet (not me) figured out that a pool noodle cut to the length of the bed is just the right size to act as a bed rail for a toddler. Using a snug fitted sheet, slide the pool noodle under it so that it becomes a soft barrier. This is usually plenty of protection against rolling out of bed. Being a nervous mother, I also line the floor next to the bed with pillows or soft blankets for a few nights, just in case. No one has ever actually fallen out, but you never know.
What are your tips for moving a toddler to a big kid bed?
Image courtesy of Ashleigh290 on flickr