Toddler Transition From Crib to Regular Bed

Why transition now?

This past weekend my husband and I transitioned our 2.5-year-old out of her crib and into a regular bed. We decided to do this for multiple reasons:

  1. When travelling, our daughter slept in her PlayPen, but recently she learned to climb out of it. Therefore, we needed a new option.  
  2. She learned how to climb out of her crib, and we were very concerned with her hurting herself. 
  3. We began to hear her hitting her arms and legs on the crib throughout the night, which was now causing her to wake up. Another indication that we needed a bigger sleeping arrangement for her.  

Truthfully, we wanted to keep her in her crib for as long as possible, the crib made our life much more comfortable, but we knew it was time to make the switch.

Preparing for the Transition:

Our daughter is good at napping for extended periods and sleeping right through the night (we are fortunate, she is a good sleeper), BUT she always throws an absolute fit when she realizes it’s bedtime. The only reason she stayed and eventually fell asleep was that she couldn’t get our her crib to avoid falling asleep. She loved her sleep, but she didn’t love going to sleep. Therefore, we knew that this transition could be a tough one for us. We knew we needed to have a plan for how to transition her so that she stays in bed and goes to sleep. I turned to my friends and did a bit of research to get some tips for this transition.   

 Below are the tips we followed and seem (so far) to have worked for us:

  1. Getting ready for the transition: We began talking to our daughter about her new “big kid” bed. We also read her a children’s’ book about a little elephant transitioning from his crib to a big bed. The book was called “A Big Kid Bed is Coming” by Liz Fletcher. She loved the book! I think this step is pretty important; they can visualize the change and understand it a bit better.
  2. The excitement factor: Many people suggested enticing her to her new bed by adding lots of stuffed animals and colourful bed sheets with some of her favourite books. This will hopefully convince her to go to bed and stay there. We did this, and she loved it! She lined up all her stuffed animals beside her, put her new sheets over them to sleep with her; it was really great.
  3. Getting the room ready: Babyproof the room, like REALLY baby proof it. They will be walking around enjoying their new freedom and wanting to check out their surroundings. We took out lamps, toys and anything she could climb. We basically left her books and her dresser (which we bolted to the wall). We also added a night light because I didn’t want her walking into anything when she got out of bed.  
  4. Protecting her from rolling out of bed: I had bought one bed rail but realized once the bed was constructed, I needed two. I panicked a bit, but a friend of mine gave me an excellent tip. Take a couple of towels, roll them together in a long roll and put it under the mattress sheet along the side of the bed to help them from rolling right off the bed. So far it has worked just as well as the baby rail, so big win! Since this is a new transition, though, I have added lots of carpet and padding on the floor just in case. 
  5. When to begin: I was told to start this process during her afternoon nap; I was a bit weary because I love her nap time and my break time but, it was definitely a good idea. She walked out many times before falling asleep, but she was more prepared for bedtime that evening.   
  6. Make bedtime a bit earlier than usual. I started bedtime about 30 min early because I knew she would be getting up and walking around at the beginning. She left the room many times, but each time we held her hand and brought her right back to bed, reminding her it was bedtime, and she had to go to sleep. On night 1, we did this about six times. By the last time, she realized she couldn’t come out, stayed in her bed and eventually fell asleep. This was about 1 hour after her usual bedtime.

Some other things to consider:

  • Putting the video monitor back into the room to keep an eye on them as they explore their new freedom.
  • Lock the bedroom door if they don’t stop leaving their room. I know this is controversial, but they cannot get out of their crib, so I don’t see a difference with locking their door. 
  • If they do not stay in bed for nap time, try quiet time. Tell them they still need a rest and can quietly read books in bed until mom/dad gets them. There are two reasons to do this: they are tired and need a little rest, and you still need a break.  
  • I haven’t nighttime potty trained my daughter yet; I am not sure how I will add this to the transition, but if you have any hints/tips, please let me know!

One final piece of advice:

Like everything with our little ones, you’ll have to be patient. Some toddlers may fight this change, and their sleep may get negatively affected for a while; some may love this new change and go right to sleep; there is no telling how our children will respond, so don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t going as you anticipated. With these transitions, I have learned never to have any expectations, just make the change, and roll with whatever happens. Changing your toddler’s routine is hard on your little one, but it is also hard on you. Make sure you give yourself a break from time to time, eat a slice of cake, go for a long walk, whatever it is you need to do to reset. Also, if my tips aren’t working, then ignore them and make your own. You know your child better than anyone, and there is no perfect process! 

Good luck!

If you have any additional tips or would like to write about your experience with your baby and their transition, please common below! 

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