The moment I have been dreading for months has arrived: I can no longer contain my triplet two year olds in their cribs. Two-thirds of them are climbing out of their cribs and destroying the room. The one child who cannot climb out of their crib yet has declared her crib as ‘party central.’ The two monkeys go straight into her crib after they have destroyed their entire bedroom with such fun activities as opening the shades, emptying drawers, and dumping diapers. I find them like this on a daily basis, screaming and cheering as they bounce up and down in one crib together; this is how I knew I could no longer wait for them to make the transition to toddler beds.
Here are some toddler bed transition tips:
Wait as long as possible. If your child is climbing out of their crib and wandering around the room, it is time to switch to a big kid bed. Climbing in and out of their crib puts your child at a higher risk of falling and getting hurt. However, if your child is content in their crib and has made no attempt to escape, don’t rush to make the switch. My oldest son slept in his crib without trying to climb out until almost three years old. Eventually, he became too tall for the crib, and had an easy transition to a twin bed.
Choose the right time. Many parents will transition their kids to a twin or toddler bed because they need the crib for a soon-to-be arriving younger sibling. If possible, try to make the transition to a big kid bed when there are few other transitions going on in your child’s life. Starting a new school, potty training, moving, or the arrival of a new sibling can all be reasons to delay the switch. If you do have a new baby arriving and need the crib, consider starting shortly after you find out you are pregnant, using a bassinet for baby for a few months, or purchasing a second crib.
Make it their own. If you have decided the time is right to make the switch, get your child excited about their new bed. Purchasing new bedding and pillows can make their new space more welcoming and exciting. Consider updating their room with new big kid decorations or buying fun pillowcases with their favorite cartoon character on them.
Create a safe environment. Whether your child was climbing out of bed before the switch or not, they will have more freedom in their bedroom than they have had in the past, and it is important to make sure they are safe during rest times. If a child were to climb on their dresser or bookshelf, it could tip forward and cause serious injury or death. Bolt dressers, bookshelves, changing tables, or any other furniture to the wall to make the safest environment for your toddler. Put away breakable items, cover outlets, and clear the room of any hazards. If your child can open the bedroom door, consider using a door knob safety device or gadget (there are some cool ones on the market) so that they cannot wander the house freely if they wake up earlier than you do or sleep walk or get up in the middle of the night.
Be consistent. Transitions can be difficult for toddlers, but transitions are easier when you are consistent and stick with it. Most parents worry that once their child does transition to a big kid bed, the child will stop sleeping well. For the best results, lay your child down when they are tired and ready to rest. If you followed a daily routine before laying your child down in their crib, continue it. If not, try starting a daily routine that might look something like this: Child takes a bath, puts on their pajamas, reads a book with you, brushes their teeth and visits the restroom, has some snuggles with you, and then they get into bed. When your child knows what to expect, they will know that it is not playtime, it is rest time.
Transitioning from a crib to a big kid bed is a big deal! It is exciting, fun, and sometimes challenging. You can help your kid with this milestone by being supportive and giving positive reinforcement. Praise and reward your child for making it through each night, for taking a nap, and for following the rules. Before too long, their crib will be a thing of the past.
Sarah is a mom of six children, including triplets. Her triplets have recently made the transition from cribs to big kid beds.
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