10 Tips For Transitioning From The Crib To A 'Big Kid Bed'

I still look back on the day we we moved our son out of the crib and into a toddler bed as one of our biggest parenting fails. He wasn't ready. FTD was. My son LOVED his crib. Even though he was able to climb out of it right after his first birthday, he still slept through the night in it. He NEVER slept in our bed. never. 

Then, we took his crib away. 

It's been nearly two years since that dreadful day, and every night since, my son has been in MY DAMN BED! 

Unless this is your idea of a "toddler bed,"
then you better be sure your toddler is ready....
Without further bitching and complaining ado, my top 10 tips for making the transition:
  1. Pediatric sleep disorders expert, Deborah Lin-Dyken, says there's no set time to make the move. Studies show most children make the switch sometime between ages 1 1/2 and 3 1/2.  So don't make this about age, but more about your child's comfort. 
  2. Don't rush right out and buy a new bed the day your toddler climbs out of the crib. This is NOT an indicator that he/she is ready. Lower the mattress all the way, and discourage climbing.
  3. The switch may really freak your toddler out. Place the new bed in the EXACT same place the crib use to be. Use the same bedding, crib toys/stuffed animals... Change as little as possible. 
  4. Don't just spring the new bed on your toddler.  Start talking it up at least a week in advance.  One expert says throw a big party to celebrate the bed's arrival. 
  5. Independence is an indicator that your child is ready to make the switch.  If your child takes pride in individual accomplishments, including feeding and dressing themselves, then it may be time. Kyle Pruett, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center, in New Haven, Connecticut, says a sign of readiness is when your child calls out in the night and can be reassured just by hearing your voice.  
  6.  Don't introduce the new bed during potty training or moving to a new house.  "Too many changes can freak a familiarity-loving toddler out", says Dr. Laura Markham
  7. If the transition is due to the arrival of a new baby, experts recommend the transition be made and well adjusted to at least TWO months before the baby arrives.
  8. Let your toddler be involved every step of the way; including if possible, picking out the bed, and the new sheets, blanket and pillow if necessary. Make the new bed cozy and inviting.
  9. If you do not already have one, create a bedtime routine and stick to it leading up to the big night. Familiarity is key before this transition. One expert says to add white noise or music to the bedtime routine, if it is not already part of it, to help your child doze off.
  10. Be prepared for a long battle. This could (most likely will) be very scary for your little one, and may take quite a few nights of both, getting to sleep AND staying in the bed through the night, before things settle. Remember, this is ultimately your decision, you have to be comforting and understanding that this is very scary. Talk though your child's feelings and be reassuring that this is a wonderful thing.  'All big boys/girls sleep in a big bed.'

I would LOVE to hear what parents have to say. If you have dealt with this already, please share your experience or tips.

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April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com