The Big Kid Bed Transition
Having a toddler is fun, crazy, and challenging all at the same time. I know, I have one. 😉 No longer are conversations one sided-we can chat about the weather, the birds, shapes, colours, what Elmo said or did that day. The baby is gone and the little person is starting to emerge.
But with this little developing person comes a new side with some tantrums and limit testing. Unfortunately this is part of their development and although it can be trying and tiring for us parents, we must seize this opportunity to begin to instill rules and structure now.
If not, then you make it that much harder on yourself later on.
So how does this pertain to your toddler’s sleep? Well, somewhere in the toddler years, usually between 2-4 years of age, two big changes happen that can affect sleep.
The first is that the toddler is moved from a crib to a bed. That’s where we’ll focus our attention on for this article. In part two we’ll take a look at the second big change and that is when they drop their last nap. Both of these changes can be fantastic or disastrous, depending on your child’s personality and how you approach it.
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Let’s start off with the big kid bed transition. Some children have no troubles making the switch and stay in their bed all night, right from day one.
You’ve never heard of those children, you say? Yeah, me either.
Just kidding. 😉 It does happen.
More popular though, are the stories of children who keep popping out of their beds at night to explore their new-found freedom. Usually the first few weeks are pretty good and then the child starts to either resist bedtime or get up through the night and walk around. It may be cute at first, but over time if they are putting up a fight every night, not falling asleep until hours later and/or getting up through the night, they will become overtired and Cr-Anky. And so will you.
Big Kid Bed Transition Recommendations:
Are they actually ready? Are you sure?
A 17 month old is going to have a much harder time understanding that they’re not suppose to wander around their room, than a 3-year-old will. If the reason for the change is to use the crib for a new sibling, consider purchasing a 2nd hand one, borrowing one, or using a bassinet for baby to give your toddler more time in the crib.
Climbing out of the crib = time for rules
Has your toddler suddenly turned into a monkey? Just because they are getting out, doesn’t mean you have to move to a bed! What it does mean is that it’s time for you to set some clear rules for them.
Repeatedly tell them to not climb out. Be firm, serious and consistent. If you can catch them in the act-even better. It will take some commitment on your part to do this every time they try it. If you think this is tedious now though, imagine what it will be like if they are in a bed and have the ease of just rolling out for a jaunt down the hall at 3 am. 😉
Big Kid Bed Transition Talk
Depending on your child’s personality, they may need quite a bit of discussion to get used to the idea and expectations. The more we can prepare them and reinforce the expectations in advance, the greater the chances of success will be.
Don’t let them smell fear. Keep it fun, positive and upbeat so that they are excited about the switch.
Read books about big kid beds, consider taking them shopping to look at different sheet patterns or pillows or even shopping for a new mattress if they won’t be going to a toddler bed.
When you have developed a plan of action, talk with your toddler about it in an age appropriate and positive way. You may want to use simple rules chart to help your child stay on track.
Make the chart colourful, fun and positive. Review the expectations everyday in a casual way and again before bedtime.
If you choose to do some method of positive reinforcement, make sure your toddler receives it immediately in the morning and not halfway through the day. If they don’t have a successful night, don’t make them feel bad about it. Instead praise their efforts and tell them that they have another chance the next night to try again.
The final big kid bed transition tip; keep your expectations realistic.
If you have a three-year old that has rarely slept through the night, then you can’t expect them to start doing it immediately once in a bed. You need to be committed to your plan long-term so that you can help change your child’s behaviour. If you aren’t consistent in reinforcing the new plan, then your child can’t be expected to follow it either.
Kids love to test us, and it’s by sticking to the rules that let’s them know where the boundaries are. But if you are consistent now, it will help for years to come with every new behaviour and emotional challenge that comes your way. 🙂
How did your big kid bed transition go? Need some tips now that you’ve started? Join me on my weekly Facebook Q and A sessions and chat with other tired parents!
If you find that you need more help with your toddler’s sleep than this article provides, consider purchasing a consultation to have private, one-on-one help to resolve the issues quickly!