Switching From a Crib to a Bed

Determining when to switch from a crib to a bed is a common toddler-parent question I receive, so today I’m going to address it. In addition to being asked when the right time is, I’m also asked how to go about the process of switching from a crib to a toddler bed. It’s easy, so let’s take a look.

crib to bed

If you stumbled across my website because you’re looking for ways to teach your toddler the skills to sleep through the night, put this blog to the side because now is not the right time to make a switch. Right now, you need to focus on getting your little one into a healthy sleep routine, rather than making further changes to their sleeping environment.

Thankfully, many manufacturers make convertible cribs that transition between crib and toddler bed, so the leap is not such a big one for many little ones. But I’ve noticed a trend of people putting their little ones into beds earlier and earlier, some as young as a year-and-a-half! Let me reassure you unless they’ve outgrown the length of their crib, there is no reason to rush your toddler out of their crib and into a bed.

Identify your concerns

Take a moment to think about what it is about the transition that makes you apprehensive or worried that the switch from crib to bed won’t be a smooth one? If you’re concerned about your little one slipping out of bed in the night, the reality is that is less likely to happen if they’re well-rested and sleeping through the night. So, the moral is, make sure that your toddler is sleeping well before considering the switch from crib to bed.

If your little one is sleeping independently through the night, and you’ve deemed it’s time to transition, let them know. Explain that they’re going to be getting a new bed and let them know when the switch is going to happen. Keep the conversation positive and upbeat, and allow them to utilize some of their newfound independence by helping choose new bed linens to create a space that’s comfortable for them.

Once you’ve chosen a bed, let your little one help assemble it if they’re interested — anything you can do to make them a part of the process will help smooth the transition. Make sure that the bed occupies the same space as your toddler’s crib; this is not the time to make significant changes with furniture arrangement.

Treat the first night in the new bed like any other. Try not to make a production out of the new bed, and make sure you keep the bedtime routine the same. Toddlers are at a time of uncertainty in their lives, not knowing whether or not they want to do the whole “growing up” thing, so keep things low-key.

What to expect

You’ve gone through your little one’s bedtime routine, turned off the lights and cracked the door. Here are some scenarios that may play out:

  1. Your little one adapts to their new bed and sleeps through the night. In this case, celebrate because you are among the minority.
  2. Your toddler adapts immediately, but after a week or two begins leaving their room, playing with their toys, or calling you back in several times during the night.
  3. Your toddler doesn’t adapt immediately, is up from the bed and leaves their room, plays with toys and calls you in throughout the night.

With the latter two scenarios, offer a warning when your toddler demonstrates unwanted behavior and give them a consequence if they do it again. Make sure you follow through with the consequence if your toddler follows through with the action. Don’t attempt to manage your toddler’s behavior differently, as the focus here is getting them to adjust to the change in bed, not a change in discipline.

It’s highly likely that your little one will have some hiccups with the transition from crib to bed, so remember that you are in control. Remain calm and don’t go back to the crib — remember, with any transition, it can take a week or two for your little one to adjust. Trust me, you’ll get through it!

If you feel you need a little more guidance, give me a call! I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation with new clients to see if your family can benefit from working with me.

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