Has your toddler started to climb his crib like a monkey? If so, pediatrician Dr. Alanna Levine explains that it may be time to free your toddler from the confines of his crib and stave off any accidents. If he isn’t plotting to scale the sides, its okay to wait until your child is about three years old to make the switch.
Starting this process may be difficult and could take some time. Parents can start by setting up a toddler bed in the same room as the crib and only use it for naps. When your child can nap without issues for a week, toddlers can use the bed during the nights as well.
Oftentimes parents will need to summon their patience. Just as your child has tested your boundaries in other areas, this will be no exception. Be prepared to be a tough-love type of parent. If you give in and let your child share your bed, or seek out a few extra minutes out of his, he’ll try again and again for that reward.
Sleep expert Kathy Sinclair explains it’s important to help your child make his new bed special and that it’s still safe and happy like his crib. Pick out big boy toddler sheets to add to the excitement of the adventure. Just make sure he can still snuggle with his prized bed buddy when the lights go out. Doing so means he won’t be alone and will convey a sense of normalcy. Also, make sure to keep the same bedtime routine. After repetition, he’ll conclude he has more freedom but still needs his sleep.
Starting your toddler in a bed will cause him to be more easily distracted since he can get up and down to explore his room anytime he wants to. Minimize distractions by keeping the bedroom door closed and use baby monitors to hear every little peep. If you’re opposed to shutting the door, limit access to the house by using a baby gate, which prevents nighttime wandering.
Also remember to baby proof anything in his room that could be a hazard—remove any cords from easy access, affix anything that he can tip over, etc. This is important especially if you discover your toddler is navigating in the dark. Toys can also mean trouble. Put the majority in a bin that can be fastened so he has less temptation to get out of bed.
If you’re afraid of your child rolling off the bed and getting hurt, bring out the convertible crib addition. If yours didn’t come with a kit, or one isn’t available, opt for the variety that clamps to the frame. Generally they come in primary colors and are made of tightly woven mesh.
No matter what transpires, remember the objective—your child staying in bed. Author Elizabeth Pantley says this is possible with loving reminders and continued one-on-one guidance. It may mean you have to physically walk back and forth nightly to make your child to stay in bed. However, the concept will eventually stick.