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Transitioning Your Toddler from a Crib to a Bed

Submitted by on May 24, 2015 – 3:28 pmNo Comment

Transitioning Toddler from Crib to Bed

How and When to Transition Your Toddler from a Crib to a Bed

by Visa Shanmugam

It’s that time and you can’t believe it’s here.  How did your baby grow up so quickly?  How can they be ready to move out of their crib into a toddler or twin bed?  Or are they?

Most parents tend to jump the gun when it comes to transitioning their toddler from a crib to a bed.  If your child hasn’t learned to sleep well on their own in their crib or if you are still facing bed and night time challenges then they are most likely not ready.  Changing them to a big boy/girl bed, in the hopes that they will start to enjoy sleeping on their own, is probably not a good idea.  You will have a toddler who has a new game to play – leaving their bed and room to come find mom and dad.

So when should you move them ?

1.  If they are less than three years old, then I would highly recommend waiting until they turn three.  At three, toddlers have the ability to understand clear instructions, consequences for their actions and what’s expected of them.

2.  If you need the crib for the arrival of a sibling, and your first is still less than two years old, don’t rush into taking their crib away.  If possible, buy another crib.  If this is not an option, then start the transition process a few months before the baby arrives.  You want to remove the association of losing the crib to the sibling’s arrival. You also want to dedicate enough time to have a smooth transition.  The crib should ideally go unused for a couple of months, before the baby arrives and he/she starts sleeping in it.

3.  If you have a crib jumper then I would agree that you have to change them into a bed for their own safety.  So how do you transition?

How should you transition?

1.  Make a big deal about the new bed, new sheets and the fact that they are a big boy/girl.  Get them excited and involved in the whole process.  Have them pick out what they want.  TIP:  Give them two choices that you can live with!  That way, you will be happy with whatever they pick.

2.  If possible throw a party before the first night.  For my almost three year old son, we had a couple of friends visit, talked to them all about the special occasion in front of him and cut a small cake and sang a silly song.  It might seem over the top to us as adults, but it made him so proud of himself and excited to sleep in the new bed.

3.  Follow the exact same bedtime routine as you have always done.  Nothing should be changed, so that it sets the expectations for them that sleep is to follow at the end of the routine.

4.  When you turn off the light and say good night, leave the room as you always do.  Do not tell them “Don’t jump out of your bed” and “Don’t leave your room”.  This thought might have never occurred to them until you pointed it out!

5.  Don’t lay down on the bedroom floor until they fall asleep.  If you have never done this before, don’t start now, unless you want to make this a regular occurrence.  Children catch on to things very quickly and will insist on this every night.

6.  Make sure all their needs are met before lights out – sippy cup of water, one last trip to the toilet, one last hug and kiss, so that they don’t use these as stall tactics to come find you.

7.  If they test the waters and start to leave their room, quietly take their hand and walk them back to their room without making any conversation or eye contact.  Say good night after getting them back into their bed. They might do this a few times or a lot the first night, but when they realize that it’s a boring game with no reaction from you, they will soon get bored and drop it.

8.  In the mornings if they have a tough time staying in their room, until 7 am (or a set wake up time), buy a toddler clock which teaches them to stay in their room until the ‘sun’ comes up. You set the time as to when the color or the picture changes for them to leave their room. TIP: let them have a few successes in the morning before moving the time.  For example if they are waking up at 6 am and you want to them stay in their room until 7am, start with a wake up time of 6 am and celebrate their success for a few days.  Then move it to 6.15 am for a few days etc. Sharing successes, will motivate them to stay in bed until it’s time.

9.  If they have slept without any night wakings or leaving their room, reward them in the morning immediately for the job well done.  For three year olds instant gratification is needed such as stickers or small toys, instead of collecting points for a bigger toy.

Congratulations on this big change to both you and your child – they are growing up and it’s a new phase of their growing independence.  With consistency and routine, your toddler will soon grow to love their bed and sleep!

Visa ShanmugamVisa Shanmugam helps parents develop customized sleep solutions for babies, toddlers and young children that addresses each family’s specific challenges.  Using techniques and strategies from The Sleep Sense™ Program developed by world-renowned sleep expert Dana Obleman, her plans are simple, easy to follow, yet flexible.  Visa is available for private consultations, group seminars and speaking engagements. Website:  Facebook page:



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