When you brought your tiny newborn home from the hospital, you probably weren’t thinking much, if at all, about the day when your child would outgrow his/her crib. Yet here you are, a couple years later, wondering if that time has come. If there’s anything parenting teaches you, it’s that time goes quickly. So whether you’re preparing for another child and needing to vacate the nursery or you’re noticing an increasingly active toddler’s attempts to climb out of the crib, here is what you need to know about transitioning to a toddler bed:
1. There Is No Magic Age. The time to move your child to a toddler bed is less about age (generally 1½ to 3½) and more about activity. “Many parents make the switch because they’re worried that their active toddler might climb or jump out of his crib — and this is a real safety concern,” says pediatric sleep disorders expert Deborah Lin-Dyken at Baby Center. If this sounds like your child, the first step is to lower the mattress within the crib as much as possible, making it harder for your climber to find his/her way out. When that won’t work, you know it’s time to transition. Other signs that you may need to move your mobile child out of the crib: (a) your toddler is asking for a big-kid bed, or (b) with your next child due soon, you will need the crib space. Even when you are expecting, however, your toddler’s readiness must be paramount to the move. It would be better to invest in or borrow a second crib than to let your child get hurt in a bed he/she isn’t ready to use.
2. Every Child Is Different. There is no guarantee how a child will react to a move from a crib to a toddler bed. Every child is different and deals with growth differently; some resent the move, while others embrace it. Be patient with your child, and reconsider your decision only if he/she keeps resisting the move days later. In some cases, a compromise might work best — install guard rails on each side of the bed and/or make use of fun, playful decorations and other features to make it more reminiscent of a crib.
3. You Can Improve the Transition for Your Child. Through a little creativity and planning, you can make your child’s transition from a crib to a bed a smoother one. You may promote the idea for weeks, have a party with the grandparents to celebrate the move, take your child shopping for bed sheets of his/her choice, use the same blankets that were in the crib, etc. Likewise, “a convertible crib that turns into a toddler bed with the removal of the front panel can make the change seem less drastic to a toddler,” suggests the What to Expect® website. By making the move a less shocking change and/or an exciting event to anticipate, you may help your unsure little one feel happy about the change. Likewise, by putting the bed in the spot where the crib used to be, you may help ease your child with a sense of comfort and familiarity.
The bottom line with toddler beds is that they are milestones for children and parents alike, but they work best when they’re implemented at the appropriate time. Use the tips above to determine when your child is ready, prepare for how he/she might react and take steps to smooth and simplify the transition.
Emma Valle is the customer service manager at BabySuperMall.com, a leading online retailer of baby and kids products. Baby SuperMall carries a wide selection of bedding and decorations to help you create the perfect nursery or kidsbedroom, plus a variety of other baby and children’s products.