Many parents experience angst and uncertainty at their children’s major life transitions, from potty training to those first days of pre-school. For us, transitioning our toddler from his crib to a big kid bed was akin to mastering astrophysics in under a week. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, but we knew we had to figure it out fast.
Our second child was due in under two months, and we were determined to give our first son enough time to become comfortable in his new bed before the arrival of his little brother. What we couldn’t get over, however, was the vulnerability we felt in this transition.
Gone were the days of keeping our little guy safely contained in his warm bed. A big kid bed brought with it a sense of freedom that terrified us. He would be able to move about his room unrestrained, meaning it was possible we might unintentionally expose him to unknown dangers. What if we left one outlet without a safety plug? Failed to remove all choking hazards? Forgot to secure the gate at the top of the stairs before going to sleep? The list went on and on.
In the end, after weeks of brainstorming, we developed a crib-to-toddler-bed transition plan that worked wonders. Here are some of the steps we took to ensure a smooth switch for our little guy.
- Have your toddler help pick out the room decor. Nothing instills a sense of ownership over change like making your child an integral part of the process. Give your toddler pre-approved choices from which to select, and allow her to take a central role in the preparation for this transition. This will elicit a sense of excitement in her as opposed to a sense of fear or loss.
- Start with a mattress on the floor. While it’s tempting to set the entire bed up all at once, it’s important to remember that your toddler is not familiar with sleeping without side rails. By starting simple and as close to the ground as possible, you eliminate the risks associated with a significant fall out of bed. Once your child is comfortable and demonstrates an ability to stay put while sleeping, you can begin moving him up, starting with a box spring and ending with the fully built bed.
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- Set up an easily accessible box of safe toys for your child to play with. Be sure to remove all choking hazards and toys that may not be age appropriate, leaving only those with which you’re comfortable allowing her to play alone. If she happens to wake up before you do, she will have something safe to occupy her until you come in to get her.
- Child-proof the room. Visit every outlet to be sure you haven’t left one without a safety plug. Make sure all cords are out of your child’s reach, including those attached to blinds. If you have long curtains, consider fastening them up out of your toddler’s reach to avoid him yanking on them, bringing down the curtain rod as well. Take care to secure book shelves to the wall so they don’t dump over on him, and use safety latches on drawers so he can’t pull them out on himself. Finally, place a child safety handle on the door knob so he can’t wander out of his room and get into trouble in the night.
- Invest in a video monitor. If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing a video baby monitor to help you keep an eye on your toddler as she gets used to her new surroundings. Not only will this help you feel a bit more at ease about the transition, but it will also ensure you will be able to help right away in the event that your toddler needs you.
Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed can be stressful for parents and children alike, but it doesn’t have to be. By keeping these tips in mind, you and your toddler can look forward to the bliss that comes with a big kid bed.
Happy sleeping — for all of you![/nextpage]