How to Help your Toddler Transition to a Big Bed
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
To help your baby move from the crib to a
bigger bed, choosing a good moment is an important first step. Once you
have figured out the best toddler
, here's how to make the move itself a good
We discuss the most successful tips and techniques to prepare
yourselves and the most useful equipment to set up the big bed, right
Prepare the smoothest toddler transition ... TOGETHER
- Help her be prepared.
Take enough time to talk about the change beforehand. Explain that
she will move from crib to bed in a couple of days/weeks. She may not
completely understand everything, nor be able to think ahead. But
hearing about something over and over helps a great deal.
At the same time, no need to make it a
either. Talk about
it casually but regularly. Make these discussions pleasant and fun.
Tell your child you are
so proud he (she) is a big boy (girl) now, ... A simple, fun but very
book that can help here is our friend Elmo's Big
Enough for a Bed
- Change as
little as possible:
the step is big enough as it is for your toddler, so
it is crucial to keep anything else sleep related the same as much as
possible. Make sure she has her favorite cuddly toy or blankie, just as
before. Hang the same musical mobile or decoration in sight, just as
The same night light, the same level of
darkness throughout the night, the same bedtime
, no changes in sleep
schedule, ... This avoids resistance and confusion by too many
changes as well as keeps her sleep patterns unchanged.
- Create an attractive sleep
environment. Make the transition extra
attractive with cute
bedding, a funny picture on the wall,
a new teddy, ... be sure to include things or themes that your toddler
likes and help him feel like a big kid (maybe a new cartoon character
he just discovered?).
- Include her in the practical
Arrange the new bed/bedroom together. Organize it, place toys here and
there, ... Take your child shopping and have her choose some of the
decoration. A new cuddly toy maybe? Engaging her in the whole process
like this helps make her feel responsible and more motivated.
- Consider a big kid responsibility,
such as being
allowed to have a sip of water on his own once you left the room.
Explain this to her and be clear about how much and when she can drink.
helps build confidence and is simply a good extra incentive.
Once in the big bed ...
The main issue you may have with this new situation is the increased
freedom it gives to your little one at night ...
What if she
comes out of bed in the middle of the night?
Being in the big
bed also means that your toddler can come out of bed
quite easily now. This may be one of the first
that you will agree upon with
First of all, decide for yourself what you want. Some parents want
their children to come out of bed to warn them if she needs help.
Others want them to stay in bed no matter, and then call out it
Either way - or any in between - explain this to your child. It may
take time before she actually remembers and does it well. But by
consistently explaining, taking her back to the room immediately each
time, ... you will make progress.
Also, don't wake up a sleeping dog
Don't suggest to your baby what she probably wasn't planning ... if you
often remind her NOT to come out of bed, that may be exactly
what she is going to try!
Not mentioning it at all may be your best bet as a start. And then if
come out of bed, consistently explain what you want ...
Remember to praise and applaud at each good step during the transition:
settling, staying in bed, taking a sip of water, ... It may be worth a
special incentive. Use a sticker chart
to help encourage further.
Set up the best
toddler bed ever ...
This is the easy part of the toddler transition. Unless you had a convertible crib, choose
either a solid toddler bed or go straight to a full-size regular bed.
Both options are fine. If you get a good real big bed right away, it
last all through childhood.
In either case, I strongly recommend you use a
It is crucial to keep your child from falling out of bed. A nightly
fall can be
quite painful and harmful, not to mention traumatizing.
Using bed rail protection also creates a more cozy feel
which your new big-bed-sleeper will appreciate, and therefore help her
You can consider to start using a duvet or blankets now but I still
because it actually helps your toddler transition.
Especially if she had one before: the sleeping bag will be familiar,
reducing the amount of changes going on right now. But also, the sleep
sack will keep her warm all night - avoiding unnecessary wake-ups when
the duvet or blanket slips away.
Along with the toddler transition tips above, your toddler will come to love her new sleeping place and ... sleep better for it.