Are you considering moving your little one to a toddler bed soon? Here's a few tips on how to make that transition easier on you!
Have you exhausted all your resources?
What I mean by this is have you tried every trick possible to keep your little one in the crib? I am a BIG supporter of keeping baby in the crib until you just physically can't anymore. Why? It's just easier on everyone. When you make the transition to a toddler bed, you have to worry about them getting out of bed, leaving the room, unplugging things, etc. These are all normal things that we'll all have to face one day, BUT I like to hold off on it as long as possible!
If your little one is jumping or climbing out, have you tried lowering the mattress all the way? You can even lower it all the way to the floor if it is safe and there are no spaces to get stuck. Another option is to turn the crib around facing the wall so that there are fewer spaces to climb out.
If you've tried everything or you are just ready to move to a toddler bed, let's talk about how to do it!
First, pick your mattress!
You have a few choices on which kind of mattress to choose. If you're like me, you chose to get a 4-in-1 crib that will eventually become all of the things. In this case, you already have the mattress ready to go.
Alternatively, you can choose to buy a twin sized mattress. Make sure to buy a firm mattress. Now I don't mean rock solid, but don't go buy a super extra plush memory foam mattress.
Second, pick your bed frame.
There are so many options for this out there. It's crazy! If you ask my husband, he'd suggest getting the red race car bed. There are day beds, Montessori floor beds, regular toddler beds, etc. All of these options are good, but there are a few I like better than others.
Montessori/floor beds: These are a great option for many families, but I do not prefer them for the sole reason of the ease of getting in and out. The purpose of the crib is for baby to stay in the crib, right? Obviously there aren't toddler cribs, but I'd still like it to be a challenge to get out of bed. This way it deters the child a little bit, so hopefully he/she will stay in bed.
Day beds/toddler beds: I prefer these because they can be raised off the ground. I don't mean like a huge amount, but they can be raised just enough that it's not appealing to get out of bed. Don't raise the bed enough that your child could hurt himself if he falls out (which will inevitably happen at some point).
Third, BABY PROOF! BABY PROOF! BABY PROOF!
I can NOT say this enough. When you get ready to transition to a big bed, you MUST baby proof! Even though your child will essentially have access to the whole room, you have to make sure that they can't actually get into everything. Also, please please please put a baby lock on the door so they can't roam around the house.
Why should you do these things? Imagine this. You put your 3 year old down for bed. Then, at 3am, you hear talking and laughing on the baby monitor. You look and see that your child has gotten into the toys, and is running around his room like a mad man. You go in to put him back down, but it's too late. He's UP. He wants to play, and now your day starts at 3am.
There are many more examples that I particularly want to go into, but it's a basic safety precaution. You don't want your child being able to get ahold of a bunch of electrical cords or having access to the entire house for obvious reasons.
My suggestions for baby proofing? I would put all noisy toys or things that would keep them awake at night in the closet, and put a lock on the door! If you have a playroom that is separate from the rest of the house, you could put them in there. You can leave things like quiet books and stuffed animals in the room. These are toys that don't make noise or light up so there no chance of extra stimulation that will wake your child up too much.
Make sure all outlets are covered and loose electrical cords are stowed away and tied up.
My feelings on a nightlight remain the same. Don't have one. BUT I understand kids freak out over the dark. An alternative is to get a very dim string of lights and wrap around the bed frame. This way it will give enough light that it's not pitch black, but it's not enough to wake them up. If you have a Hatch or a similar clock, you can leave the light on red through the night which doesn't affect sleep.
Fourth, explain what will happen then hype them up!
For about a week before you make the switch, talk about what you're going to do. Explain the whole process to your child. At the same time, hype them up about it!
Go shopping and let your child pick out his/her own bedding. Is your child into Frozen? Get everything Frozen. Is your son into Minecraft? Get everything Minecraft. I'm talking pillow, sheets, blanket, stuffed animal, etc. Let them really make it their own space. When you get home, let your child help set it up how he/she wants it.
Take your child out for a date day on the day you make the switch. Maybe go to the arcade or mani/pedis. The whole day talk to your child about what will happen that night. Ask your child how he/she feels about it. What is he scared of? Is she ready to make the switch? Do they feel empowered? This part may seem silly to some, but it is so important!
Fifth, check your expectations
Make sure you don't have crazy expectations. You may be thinking, "Yeah okay! I got it." You'd be surprised though. Are you expecting your child to lay down in bed and stay there all night the first night? Probably won't happen. Are you expecting that there won't be any tears? Probably won't happen. You know what will probably happen? Some tears, some begging you to stay, climbing out of bed, and waking up in the middle of the night.
THAT IS TOTALLY NORMAL THOUGH! Give your child grace, but stay consistent! If your child gets up and comes out of the room, just calmly walk him/her back to the bedroom. Don't make a big deal about it. Eventually your child will get tired of this and stay. If you keep getting requests for extra snuggles, more water, etc., try out a bedtime pass. This is where your child gets to choose one more thing one more time.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you! Don't worry if your little one resists the change at first. It's a new thing that will take time to get used to. Have you made the switch yet? Are you thinking about doing it soon? What are you most concerned about?