As a parent, we all want to see our children grow and shape into the tiny humans we have nurtured from birth. When baby comes home from the hospital, we normally keep the baby in our room to be close by in a bassinet.
As time goes by and you feel more comfortable, we move our infant to their crib in their room which is a big milestone for all. We adjust the height of the mattress in the crib as our infant gets bigger and stronger. However, a question I think we all face as parents is when is it time to move from the crib to a toddler bed?
Safety reasons should be the first and main consideration when moving into the next step for a bed. Most pediatricians recommend when a toddler reaches 34 inches tall OR when the railing of the crib is less than three quarters of the child’s height. The reason for this is because the child can easily climb out of the crib and fall.
Another thing to consider is the child’s age - under the age of 3, most children cannot yet comprehend the boundaries of staying in their bed. This can be a challenge for most parents and children alike. With their new found freedom of a bed, they can easily get out and wander around the house whenever they please (or so they think). Most experts recommend waiting for a toddler bed until your child can fall asleep without your assistance and in doing so, if they wake up in the middle of the night, they can put themselves back to sleep.
The most important thing I have learned over the years is a consistent routine is key for getting our kiddos to sleep. A routine which was a favorite in my household and now I use with my grandchildren is as follows:
- Small bedtime snack (unsalted popcorn or cookies and milk)
- Wash up - whether it be a full blown bath or simply washing your face and hands
- Brushing teeth
- Final potty for the night (assuming they are potty trained)
- Reading a book - I usually read one book and then let them “read” to themselves for 5 minutes before turning out the light
Once a comfortable routine is established, bedtime doesn't have to be a “chore” but an enjoyable reward at the end of a busy day.
Now that we discussed when transitioning to the bed is right, let’s discuss toddler bed options!
- You can use the crib mattress on the floor OR a twin mattress so if they do fall out, there is not a large drop
- You can start the transition slowly by using the mattress and then adding a bed frame once everyone is comfortable with the setup
- Loft beds or bunk beds are not recommended for children under the age of 6 for height restrictions
One last point to touch on is that now your child has “access” to everything in their room, safety is taken to the next level.
- Make sure windows are securely locked or have safeguards so they cannot fall
- Do not have furniture with drawers that can open all the way out and fall on your child - you can put a stop mechanism in the drawer which only allows it to open so far
- Make sure all electrical outlets are properly covered
The key is to remain patient as there will undoubtedly be nights when they will get out of bed and ask for a glass of water, go to the bathroom - any stall tactics they can come up with. Remember, it is a big step for YOU but mainly for them and will take time to adjust to the new routine of bedtime.
The transition can be bittersweet as we are grateful that our child is developing and moving forward in life but also reminds us that they are no longer babies and becoming independent tiny beings.
One final thought is to always remain positive and make sure that bedtime is a rewarding experience for all!