Partly Cloudy   54.0F  |  Forecast »

Help Your Child Transition to the Big Kid Bed

How can parents ensure it's a smooth switch for kids? Here are three key tips to guide you when your toddler is graduating from the crib.

One of the biggest toddler milestones is also the most worrisome: the transition from a crib to a "big kid" bed. Parents worry that their toddler, freed from the confines of a crib, will wander the house at night and perhaps get hurt. Or maybe they'll keep bouncing out of bed during the night, preventing the family from getting sleep.

Are you in that boat? Here are three tips to make the transition seamless.

1. Don't worry; be happy

When parents are anxious about the transition to a toddler bed, they can unwittingly pass on their anxiety to their child, says psychologist and mom Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.

"Children are like sponges, and they pick up on our fears and anxieties," she says. Do your best not to transmit your nerves to your tot – talk about the new bed as an exciting new step, not a worrisome obligation.

2. Build anticipation and excitement

Toddlers are notoriously hungry for more independence and personal power, so give them some control over the change. Allow tots to pick out their new bedding or choose which toys get to come to the new bed. "My daughter was really vocal about what kind of bed she wanted and the sheets she liked," says Jenna Monroe of Roseville. "It really helped her get excited."

Help your child prepare for the transition by creating a "big kid bed" countdown. One to two weeks before making the switch, tell your child that he'll be moving to a special new bed. Then, cross off the days on the calendar and talk excitedly about the big day with your child. But don't set the date too far in advance; a buildup of several weeks could make your child anxious instead of eager.

3. Prepare for pitfalls

If your child leaves his new bed in the middle of the night – or if you're worried that he will – install a baby gate at his bedroom door. When you hear him get up, return him to his bed promptly, every time. Once he realizes that he won't be rewarded with parental interaction or be able to get out of his room, he'll be more likely to stay in his bed all night long.

To help your child maintain positive associations with his new bed, never use the bed as a place for punishment or time out.

At naptime, opportunistic toddlers may capitalize on their newfound freedom by refusing to stay in bed. "Often, kids do fine with their new bed at bedtime – naps present a bigger issue," says Lombardo. But most 2-year-olds still need a daily siesta. Enforce your tot's naptime by creating a solid, consistent naptime ritual and keeping the bedroom very dark and quiet during naptime.

Kids in toddler beds may be more inclined to get up with the roosters. Keep your early bird in bed a longer with a special clock that tells her when it's time to start the day.

Whatever you do, "don't give in and allow your child to go back to the crib," says Lombardo. Make this transition an exciting milestone for your little one, and the crib will soon be a thing of the past!

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Craft Roundup for Earth Day Fun

Craft Roundup for Earth Day Fun

Repurpose stuff around the house with these family DIY projects, including a jewelry pom-pom box, cereal box gift bags – even a cool makeover for old balloons.

Living Room Spring Cleaning Checklist

Living Room Spring Cleaning Checklist

It's a formal spot in the house – mainly used for entertaining – that gets less foot traffic on a daily basis. This also means it's easier to clean! Get the scoop here.

Bathroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Bathroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Haven't kept up on scrubbing your tub or shower? Now is the time to clean up this much-used space – with these helpful tips.

Basement Spring Cleaning Checklist

Basement Spring Cleaning Checklist

Whether it's leftover holiday decor or old toys, this spot in your home becomes the catchall for your family's stuff. Organize it this season with these tips.

Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist

Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist

You just don't park your car there! This space does serious double duty as family storage space. Get everyone involved in cleaning it up with these tips.

Office Spring Cleaning Checklist

Office Spring Cleaning Checklist

It’s filled with papers, old files and tons of stuff to toss. Get started with these tips for organizing your home office.

Bedroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Bedroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Ah, sleep. Busy families definitely need a good night's rest after a long day, so why not spruce up your sleep space? We've got tips for you to use!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement