“Toddlerhood” is the age between 12 to 36 months, besides your baby’s first words and steps, you are going to need to think about when to switch your baby from a crib to toddler bed.
Although maybe your baby never slept in a crib, that’s okay. However, as your baby becomes a toddler some parents find it important to move their little one to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed. While there is no set time for switching to a toddler bed, some find it better closer to 36 months than 12 months. Though, you know your child best.
To know when to make the switch look for these signs:
- Your child is able to climb out of their crib – cribs can actually be an injury risk once your child is able to climb out.
- You can see your child’s chest above the crib railing – this is a sign your child has outgrown their crib. Children should switch to a toddler bed when they are about 3 feet tall.
- They express wanting a bed – possibly like an older sibling.
You might be expecting another baby and need the crib. If this is the case, switching your toddler to a bed a few months before the birth of the baby, switching your toddler to a bed once the baby arrives could cause jealousy and resentment.
Also, make sure your toddler is not going through any other big changes (i.e. potty training, starting day care, a move, etc.) when switching to a toddler bed. Too much change at once can be overwhelming for toddlers.
To make the switch to a toddler bed a little easier, first try making it fun. You can read them a story in their new bed or make sleeping there more heroic. The story “Anna, it’s time for bed” is a great option to help you make the transition. Let your child choose new sheets and blankets, this will also get them excited about the change. Don’t forget to reward good behavior and be patient, change takes time.
Try also beginning to use the new bed in naptime and during the day instead of at night time. Also, try to keep to your routines as much as possible, especially your bedtime routine. Keeping to your bedtime routine will keep indicating to your child that it’s time to sleep despite the change in sleep location.
In addition, make sure your toddler’s room is fully baby-proof (i.e. outlet covers, locked windows, safety latches, baby gate). Now that your child will be able to get out of bed freely, their room should be safe.
In my experience, my older daughter tended to move around a lot in her sleep so she was not ready for a toddler bed until 3 or 4 years old since she had an act for falling out of bed. A good solution for us personally which aligned with our love of Montessori education was a floor bed. This took away the worry of late night falls from a bed. However, because she was older, the change was difficult. We continued using floor beds with our second little one and she transitioned from co-sleeping with us to a floor bed around 12 months of age. We hope that behaviorally the transition will be smoother since she shares a room with her older sister and she began sleeping on her own from a young age.
All these steps as your child gets older are normal, and while they can be challenging, try to be patient with your little one. The most important thing is that your child gets enough sleep. And remember, if your child sleeps better, so do you.