14 10, 2020

Sleep Debt & Sleep Training; What The Doctor Didn’t Tell You

October 14th, 2020|Categories: Baby Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

Getting enough sleep. Sleeping through the night. Avoiding a sleep debt.

As much as we try to not focus on it, having consolidated night sleep is for both parent and child, feels like winning some sort of prize.

But it can be hard to come by.

And getting sound advice, even from medical professionals, can sometimes be misguided.

For instance, when parents visit their child’s pediatrician and are asked about how sleep is going, and they say “not great”, my clients tell me often the response will be;  “you just have to let them cry”.

Without context, a proper sleep schedule in place, or without sleep hygiene habits being practiced, this is a recipe for disaster.

Want to get your baby or toddler on a better sleeping routine?

Download your free copy of

Baby Sleep Guides or Toddler and Preschooler Sleep Guides

Sleep Training Doesn’t Always Work

The problem lies in the fact that helping a child to sleep through the night is not limited to just one factor. And by extension, it’s not caused by one single issue.

This is why the idea of sleep training can and often does fail when parents try it.

It’s not that they picked the wrong method, it’s that they didn’t understand why the child was waking to begin with.

And that’s no ones’ fault. As parents, we aren’t taught much about our kiddo’s sleep!

In fact, even pediatricians have limited hours of training in regards to pediatric sleep. And my guess is, the focus is not about schedules and sleep windows. 😉

Having three kids myself, (currently, my youngest is 11 months old) and helping hundreds of families achieve better sleep, I’ve seen this time and time again.

Let’s clear up any misunderstanding so our families can become well-rested and healthy.

So what IS a sleep debt?

Sleep debt, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, over tiredness.

They are all basically the same thing.

A sleep debt is the difference between how much sleep a child should be getting and how much they are actually receiving.

A (sleep needs) minus B (actual sleep quantity) = Sleep Debt

The sleep debt can be acute/recently acquired, or long term, chronic-lasting weeks or years.

If we think of sleep health similar to having money in the bank, then when our children (or ourselves) miss out on the required amount of sleep that their body needs, it’s like taking money out of the bank.

They now have a sleep deficit, or a sleep debt.

Side Effects of Sleep Debts

One of the MOST important factors, but yet the least known fact, is that sleep debts cause MORE sleep problems.

Mistakenly, I’ve heard my clients be advise (even from their pediatricians) to keep a child awake LONGER, in order to help them sleep better at night.

If you want your kiddo to sleep better, then please don’t follow this advice.

In general, to quote the famous pediatric sleep researcher, Dr. Mark Weissbluth; “sleep begets sleep”.

That is, the more a child sleeps, the better they will sleep.

Yes, there are limits to this, but when we are dealing with overtired babies, toddlers and preschoolers (which, if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), then we really want to work at filling up their sleep bank.

To summarize, here is what can occur with sleep debts

  • Frequent night wakings (not related to hunger)
  • Increased crying (during day, before and after sleep periods)
  • Short naps
  • Waking after 20-30 minutes of sleep
  • Resistance/protesting to going to sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Early morning wake ups
  • Bedtime battles (toddlers and preschoolers)
  • Crankiness
  • Clingy
  • Unable to play independently
  • Refusal to eat
  • Easily falling asleep in highchair, car seat-anywhere other than in crib or bed
  • Risk of impaired health, immune function and memory

Fixing a Sleep Debt

In order to feel well and to maintain a strong immune system and overall health, this must be payed back.

Generally the thought is that you can never fully repay the sleep debt. Once that sleep is lost, it’s gone forever. But, it is possible to reverse the effects.

We start by getting our children to bed at the perfect time. Not too early and not too late.

How do we accomplish this? By following their *initial* sleep cues.

The trick here is to know what to look for.

If I asked you what does your child do to indicate when they’re ready for a nap or bedtime, you may say yawning, eye rubbing, or getting fussy.

But for the vast majority of children, these are their secondary tired cues. They are signals that indicate that your child is already approaching a state of overtiredness.

Instead,  what we should look for is much subtler, much less obvious.

Initial Tired Cues; “I’m Getting Sleepy”

For babies, watch for the following signs…

  • Zoning out
  • Turning away from caregiver
  • Loosing interest in toys
  • Quieting down
  • Eyes looking glassy
  • Looking relaxed and calm

For toddlers, watch for the following signs…

  • Wanting to cuddle
  • Sucking fingers/thumb/pacifier
  • Lying down or wanting to have a “rest” during playtime
  • Finding favourite blanket or stuffed animal
  • Getting quiet
  • Starting to whine/get fussy

When you see these indicators, you need to immediately respond and start their wind down process for sleep. This will give you the best chance of having minimal fussing and long, deep sleep.

Secondary Sleep Cues; “I’m Getting Overtired”

If you miss the initial sleep window, you will likely start to see overtired cues.

Since a sleep debt is building, you will likely have to work harder at helping your child settle down. That’s ok! Do what you need to do to help them.

For babies, watch for the following signs of overtiredness…

  • Yawning
  • Red under or around the eyes
  • Skin around eyebrows turning pink/red
  • Fussing
  • Crying
  • Jerky or erratic limb movements
  • Arching when being held
  • Fighting/resisting going to sleep

For toddlers, you will notice these cues when they are becoming overtired…

  • Defiant
  • Grumpy
  • Meltdowns
  • Temper Tantrums
  • Increased silliness or clumsiness
  • A burst of energy
  • Hyper
  • Demands for attention

Moving Forward And Avoiding The Sleep Debt

To avoid the same problem at the next sleep period, make a note of how long they were awake for prior to seeing the overtired cues.

Start documenting or sleep logging with little notes for yourself on their temperament and mood before sleep.

This will help you to start seeing patterns and anticipating in advance when they will be ready for nap or bedtime.

How Do I Know When My Child No Longer Has A Sleep Debt?

Once you have been able to identify your child’s initial sleep cues and are able to get them onto an age-appropriate schedule, the next question is when are they all caught up?

We often look to the child’s mood, temperament and patterns in sleep, as indicators of sleep health.

A few questions to ask;

  • Is my child waking less at night?
  • Is my child waking up in the morning happy and refreshed?
  • Is the morning wake up time after 6:00 am?
  • Are naps roughly two sleep cycles long? (One cycle is roughly 45 mins, age-dependent)
  • Is the nap consolidated, with no significant wake ups in between cycle transition?
  • Is my baby (over 4 months) sleeping a long stretch in the evening before their first feed?
  • Is my toddler or preschooler sleeping through the night?

If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, then it’s likely that your child is getting back on track.

It does take awhile to undo the effects of sleep deprivation, so please be patient with them and stick to your routine.

If you need more help or guidance, I can help you! I offer mini-consults (30 or 60 minute one-time calls), or full packages.

Remember your child WANTS to sleep as much as you want them to. They will feel better when their sleep debt is erased and everyone is getting the sleep they need.

 

23 09, 2020

Safe Sleep Tips for Babies and Toddlers

September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Baby Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

Safe Sleep Isn’t Always As It Seems

A sweetly sleeping newborn baby is one of life’s most precious gems. And it’s an image we often see in magazines, ads and in the movies.

Frequently, the baby is wrapped in a blanket, surrounded by stuffed animals, maybe on their tummy or side.

As serene as this image is for a stock photo, it sends a dangerous message; that this is a safe and protective sleep environment.

It’s not.

September is Infant Safety Awareness month which means it’s a good time to write a blog about something that should be practiced everyday of the year;

Safe Sleep.

Let’s start with the basics of safe sleep

Many people have heard of the ABCs of safe sleep. It’s a great and easy way to remember the fundamentals.

A-Alone

B-Back

C-Crib

A- Alone in a Crib

This first one sometimes confuses parents a bit since the recommendation for both Canada and the United States is to room share for the first 6 months of a baby’s life.

But the A for Alone, doesn’t mean that the child is alone in the room, rather they are alone in their sleep area.

Only a firm mattress and a fitted mattress sheet, over that mattress, should be in the crib or bassinet.

This means no;

  • Blankets
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toys
  • Pillows
  • Bumpers (Breathable or otherwise)
  • Mattress wedges
  • Baby positioners
  • Baby Nests
  • Loose bedding
  • Other people

We want the crib or bassinet boring and bare. That is beautiful for safe sleep!

B-On their Back

Always place a newborn down to sleep on their back.

This keeps their airway clear (newborns don’t possess the ability to move themselves away from dangers) and helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

There will be many people (perhaps from an older generation) that tell you that they use to lay babies prone (on their tummies) and never had an issue.

You may also be one of the many parents that have a baby that hates sleeping on their back.

I fully recognize that this may be the case as plenty of babies do enjoy tummy sleeping once they are older. But, the data tells us that there is a much lower rate of SIDs when babies are placed on their backs to sleep.

I go into more details on my TV interview with CTV Morning Live Winnipeg.

You can check it out here.

 

C- Certified Crib or Bassinet

Technically, the C stands for *crib*, but I always like to mentioned that it needs to be a certified one. Unfortunately there are many products on the market that subtly or even blatantly  mislead consumers into thinking that their product has been tested and given the “all clear” for babies to sleep in.

This is not the case.

Unless the crib or bassinet has met the standards to be labeled a crib, bassinet or play yard (in the U.S.), then an infant should not sleep in it.

If it is called a napper, changing station, bassinet “level”, or floor “level”, nest, baby nest bed, lounger, etc., it is NOT safe for sleep and has NOT undergone any testing.

Only the terms crib, cradle, bassinet and play yard (in the US only) have been tested and certified for safe sleep.

If you are not sure, look for the manufacture, model number and date of manufacture on the product.

Canadian regulations for cribs, cradles and bassinets from the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act Click here.

United States crib regulations can be found here.

United States bassinet and cradle regulations can be found here.

United States play yard regulations can be found here.

Mobiles, Toys, Wedges and Incliners

What about these common products? How many parents have purchased fancy gadgets and gizmos to help their little one catch a few more ZZZs?

The great news is that you can save yourself money by not purchasing them!

Any crib modifications that stay attached or remain in the crib during sleep time, are not needed and not safe for sleep.

Remember, bare is beautiful and safe.

Incliners/wedges are also not recommended, because a baby will slowly slide down.

This places their neck at an unsafe position, increasing the risk of positional asphyxiation which occurs when a baby can not get enough oxygen due to an abnormal position of their body.

(This is one of the reasons the Fisher Price Rock N Play was recalled. You can read how even this popular products was sold without clinical research and despite infants dying,  here.)

What About Safe Sleep For Toddlers?

This group sometimes gets forgotten about, but it’s still just as important!

The safest place for a toddler is still a certified crib until they are 35 inches or taller.

No pillows should be introduced until two years of age. When you do offer a pillow, it should be firm and flat.

A toddler is a curious being and they may attempt to explore their climbing skills. Prevent them from trying to climb out by lowering the mattress to the lowest setting and taking out any stuffed animals or blankets, that can be used to gain leverage.

Sleep sacks are recommend instead of blankets. Not only does this limit the ones that try to climb, but it is also safer than loose bedding in the crib.

Think your toddler is too big for a sleep sack? Guess what?

There are companies that make sleep sacks all the way up to 5T.

For the toddlers that are in a bed, if you are choosing to use guard rails, they should be used only with a bed that has a mattress and box spring, not on a toddler bed or bunk bed.

There have been incidents of toddlers becoming trapped between their rails and the bed, so you will want to preform regular safety checks to make sure they are attached as per the manufacture’s instructions.

Safe Spaces For Bigger Kids

Although we don’t have to worry about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death) for toddlers, there are still risks for suffocation and entrapment that we can watch out for.

Those growing bodies mean that they can reach and grab for items that previously were out of their reach.

So be sure to not place the crib near

  • any windows,
  • drapes and their pull cords,
  • electrical outlets
  • shelves
  • picture frames
  • anything that can be pulled into their crib

You never know what your toddler is going to try to investigate, so the safest approach is to remove all hazards ahead of time.

I Bought Bumpers (or any other product) That Says It’s Breathable! That’s Safe, Right?

Unfortunately, no.

I was surprised to learn that bumpers, even “breathable” are not safe for sleep.

I was even more surprised to learn that the term “breathable” doesn’t mean anything. It is a marketing term only.

There are no tests or standards that an infant sleep product goes through, to have that term applied to it’s label or advertising.

Anything can be called “breathable” without breaking any laws.

Safe Sleep is Easy Sleep

As much as we may be tempted to decorate our children’s room with fancy bedding, deluxe mobiles, and large stuffed animals, when it comes to sleep, these items aren’t needed-or safe.

In fact, the less you do, the easier it becomes to have a safe sleep environment.

Stick to the basics and save all the “extras” for playtime.

Have a safe sleep environment, but your little one won’t sleep in it? Book a mini-consult and let’s get your family sleeping!

 

 

 

 

7 05, 2020

How To Stop Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of The Crib

May 7th, 2020|Categories: Toddler Sleep, Uncategorized|Tags: |

Are you trying to stop your toddler from climbing out of the crib? I have good news for you! Read on!

The newborn fog had lifted, you made it through the baby phase, but then you entered…the toddler years. :O Although the stretch that lays before you can be an exciting time, it is not without its challenges. 

Sleep challenges, that is.

And one of the most common ones is kiddos that won’t stay in their crib.

Even Sleep Consultants Have Sleep-Houdinis

I remember when my first toddler began to climb out of her crib. 

Like most of the families that I help at this age, my husband and I panicked. We had no plan in how to respond.
Which lead us down a road of  failed negotiations and sleeplessness. 

Sleeplessness is an understatement.

In reality, it was like having a newborn again. 

The good news is that there were very specific reasons why it happened and why it went on so long. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we weren’t helpless to changing this limit-testing behaviour.

The even better news is that I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you! So, consider these tips when your little one is showing signs of  joining the circus.

Why Is My Toddler Climbing Out Of  The Crib?

Many parents mistakenly believe that there is nothing that can be done, however that is not always the case.  First, consider the true reason as to why your child is starting to venture out.

Frequently, it is rooted in the need to explore, test boundaries, and/or for a schedule tweak.

My child decided to sharpen her ninja skills after we moved the crib into a different location.

I did not realize that the southeast corner of her room was so evil, but apparently it was.
It was the catalyst to everything going downhill.

To Nap or Not To Nap

Just sometimes though,  redecorating isn’t to blame. 😉  Instead, their routine is in need of an overhaul. Often at this age, it’s the nap.

It can be too long, too short, too close or, confusingly enough, too far away from bedtime

While I’m an advocate for keeping one nap in some form until the child is close to starting school, it doesn’t always work for every situation.
If you feel the nap may be inspiring your child’s new exercise routine every night, then it may need to be tweaked, capped or removed altogether.



Need more help with your toddler or preschooler’s routine?
Download your FREE copy of the Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschooler Sleep 

(Side note; I always recommend capping a nap for a while first before eliminating it altogether. And after that, I’m still a proponent of instilling “Quiet Time” in their rooms.

Big Kid Bed; An Answer For Crib Climbers?

Some parents may have been told that when a child can climb out, that it’s time to ditch the crib and move to a bed.

But contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a good benchmark on which to base that decision upon.

Just because they have the physical prowess to hoist themselves up and over the rails, doesn’t mean that toddlers are cognitively or emotionally ready for big-kid beds.

Especially under the age of three. 

Many kids feel very exposed and insecure without the confines of the crib around them. They will leave their bed and come looking for yours.

Yes-even the ones that are climbing out. 

What To Do If  Your Toddler Is Climbing Out Of The Crib?

So let’s say you have a budding acrobat on your hands-what’s a parent to do?

Make It More Difficult; Focus first on making it more difficult for your child to climb out of their crib, while keeping them safe.

  • If you haven’t already, lower the crib mattress to the lowest possible setting.
  • Empty the crib of all bumpers and blankets.
  • Also remove stuffed animals. Children are full of ingenuity and will pile these items up and use them like a ladder. 
  • Some cribs have one side higher than the other. Turn the crib so that the higher side facing out and the shorter side is along a wall.
  • Invest in a large sleep sack. This helps by restricting your child from being able to lift their leg up and over the side of the crib.
  • If your child is on the more adventurous side, you may have to stitch the sleep sack in a little tighter in the lower half
  • If your child thinks they can outwit you and removes the sleep sack altogether, placing the sleep sack on backwards, can help thwart those efforts.

Safety Check: If they do happen to get out of their crib, we still want to make sure they are safe.

  • Make sure to childproof the room. You won’t always get to them in time, or even know they are out, so safety is paramount. 
  • Cover all electrical outlets
  • Tape cords to the wall
  • Remove or secure and anchor heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Think of the making the room like a giant crib.

 

Reinforce The Rules: We wouldn’t allow our children to run out into the street no matter how much they protested. We need to face our children climbing out of the crib with the same with the same amount of determination.

  • When you know they are climbing out, open their bedroom door and give them a firm “no”.
  • This works best if you have a video monitor, but you can also wait by their door and listen, if you don’t.
  • If they have already climbed out of their crib, lead them gently (or pick them out without anger or frustration if they aren’t walking with you) and gently place them back into the crib, again saying “no”.
  • Leave the room each time. Staying will only invite them to engage with you.
  • If available, switch off with another caregiver. This will help maintain consistency, provide a united front, and give each of you a break.
  • Maintain consistency. Toddlers need on average, three days of a consistent message, before beginning to change a behaviour.

 

Logical Consequences For Climbing; Stopping your child from climbing out of their crib is a learning process, consequences help.

  • For children that are two years or older, I recommend following up with logical consequences (not punishments) in the daytime.
  • The consequence must be directly related to the mistake.
  • For example, if your child crawled out of their crib, taking away their favourite stuffed animal would be considered a punishment, not a consequence. This is because it has nothing to do with the event.
  • However, if your child was using their stuffed animal as a step to be able to climb out, then it would make sense to remove it as a consequence.
  • Or, another consequence could be that you decide to not go to the park the next day because they’re too tired from being up late during the night.
  • Logical consequences are respectful in nature and help to teach, rather than shame or punish.
  • This is the best way for a child to learn as it makes sense to the mistake or wrong choice that they have made.

 

It Takes Patience, But You CAN Stop Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of  The Crib

When your child starts to climb out of their crib, don’t be like me and don’t panic!
Children like to explore and push boundaries. This is how they learn what is and isn’t permissible.

By having a plan in place and knowing what steps to take, they CAN learn to stay in their crib.

Take a look at their routine, their environment and make the necessary adjustments.

These methods will need to be repeated several times consistently, but they can absolutely learn to stop climbing out of their crib and stay safely in their crib.

Need more help figuring out a plan for your crib climber?

Book a consultation and we will go over sleep logs, routines, schedules and come up with an easy-to-follow plan to keep your little one safe and secure!

28 01, 2019

Crib To Bed Transition

January 28th, 2019|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep, Transition Tips|

Here it comes; the crib to bed transition. Are you ready?

There comes a time in every child’s life when they outgrow their crib, both physically and developmentally. As much as we may want them to stay little forever, this can be an exciting milestone in your child’s life.

The crib to bed transition is when a child is ready to make the move out of their crib and into a more traditional ‘bed’ style sleeping surface. Whether they are cognitivally ready or developmentally, it has to happen sooner or later.

Tip One: Timing is Everything

As with everything in child sleep development, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for tackling this transition. And while, many parents will move their toddler between the ages of two and four, I recommend waiting as long as possible. Personally, I find that when this transition happens after three years of age, it goes very smoothly.

Older and Wiser

The reason I recommend waiting until your toddler is three years old before making this transition is three-fold.

First at this age, your child’s impulse control is more developed.

They have learned, and are still learning, to control their impulses. At a younger age, they will act without thinking, which will not make for a smooth transition. At three years old, they might have the desire to get out of bed, but they are learning to rationalize and control these impulses.

Second, at three years old, most children have a pretty firm understanding of rules.
Threenagers have a much better understanding of boundaries and consequences should rules be broken, than their two year old counterparts.

Setting firm limits that your child can understand and adhere to, will help make the crib to big kid bed transition smoother for the both of you.

Lastly, kids can feel overwhelmed when their familiar crib is gone.

A crib can provide a  familiar sense of security, even to those kids who are physically outgrowing it.  When we remove them from it, it can feel a bit unusual and somewhat disrupting to a young child.

Waiting until they are three years old can help avoid this as they are more developed and emotionally equipped to deal with the transition into a new sleep setting.

How to make the crib to bed transition

As with any transition, there are steps to follow to help the situation go smoothly. Once you have decided your child is ready to transition to a big kid bed, here are more tips to consider.

Tip Two: Talk to them

In the lead up to this transition, you can talk to your child about it and explain what is going to happen. Keep it fun and upbeat so that they are excited about the move.

This will help them prepare mentally and emotionally for the switch, rather than having their crib disappear all of a sudden. When talking to them, it’s kind of like you’re trying to ‘sell’ them on the idea of a big kid bed.

Whatever you feel your child will respond best to, use it. You may want to say that it means they’re more grown up, they’ll have more room in the bed as opposed to a crib and/or it will be more comfortable for them.

Tip Three: Activities to Prepare

Another fun activity to help sell them on the idea of moving beds is to select some new accessories together.

You can go shopping for new bedding and sheets, and maybe some new cuddly toys for the bed too.

Countdown calendars can be good fun and a great way to prepare your child, but if you choose to use a countdown calendar, don’t let it go on for more than a few days.

Tip Four: Taking Ownership

Allow them to take ownership, within reason, of this transition. You could let them choose where in the room they would like their big kid bed to be placed, which stuffies to have on their bed, or which sheets and pillows they want.

Try and let this transition happen in a way that feels fun and exciting and like they have control over the transition.

Tip Five: Set Your Child Up for Success With Expectations

Are you familiar with the story; If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? It can serve as a cautionary tale of what happens if you give a toddler a bed without rules. 😉

Bedtimes can easily spin out of control as toddlers are notorious for trying to test limits (and your patience).

Want to keep bedtimes on track before make the crib to bed transition? Get tips on bedtimes, night wakings and more by downloading your copy of : Sleep Solutions for Toddlers + Preschoolers: Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

To cut down on the requests for multiple glasses of water, stories and hugs, I highly recommend setting up a simple list of expectations.

Not only does this help your little one again take ownership of their sleep routine, but it creates a very specific outline for them to follow.

When creating the the rules or expectations, make it into a fun activity with your child get their input into it.

Make sure that you give clear instructions on what is expected, but don’t over complicate the rules. They need to be simple and unambiguous.

Tip Six: Good Day Sunshine!

While it’s important to set rules and expectations around bed time and going to sleep, don’t overlook the morning and waking up.

Does your child know what to do when they wake up in the morning?

What time is acceptable to start the day?

Should they come out of their room by themselves?

Should they call for you?

When creating rules around morning wake up, remember to keep them realistic! If they tend to wake up around 6:00am, asking them to wait until 7:00am is too long for most young children.  You can always work towards that as a goal, but in the beginning, to help them feel successful, keep the interval much shorter.

Tip Seven: Consistency is Your Friend

It’s very important that you stick to the rules strictly in the first two weeks of the transition from crib to bed. This is the time where your toddler will test you and the boundaries that have been set.  

If you give in or give up, you set the tone for them to continue that behaviour in the future. They can only be as consistent as you are. 

Tip Eight: Follow Through With Logical Consequences

When (not, *if*) they break the rules follow through and employ logical consequences. However keep in mind, this is very different from a punishment.

Punishments breed shame and resent and never help the child to learn.

Consequences are respectful ways for the child to realize the direct impact their choice has.

When deciding on consequences, in order for them to be relevant, respectful and a teaching opportunity, they should be directly related to the mistake the child made.

For example, if they came out of their room at night, the logical consequence may be that they don’t go to the park the next day because they didn’t get a good sleep and are too tired.

While it’s important to ensure there are consequences for their actions, don’t shame, blame or manipulate. Avoid getting into power struggles with them, just have respectful consequences and they will catch on very, very quickly. 

Conquer the Crib to Bed Transition

No transition is easy for you or your child.

Believe me.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

However, at three years old, your toddler is more developed and able to cope with and understand transitions. Unlike a the two-to-three nap transition which happens at a much younger age, you can have more rational conversations with your three year old to help them understand what is happening and why.

The crib to big kid bed transition can be an exciting one for your child, as long as you present it that way. If you’re stressed about it, your child will pick up on that and be worried too.

Remember that while this has every possibility to be an exciting time, it’s still a new way of doing things, so rules and boundaries need to be set.
Set clear expectations, and follow through with helping your child learn through logical consequences.

Kids are quick learners and before you know it, your toddler will easily be going to sleep in their new bed each and every night.

Need more help getting your toddler’s sleep on track? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents.  

Tired of reading?

Ready for action?

Schedule your consultation today, so you can start sleeping better tomorrow.

27 01, 2019

Crib To Bed Transition

January 27th, 2019|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep, Transition Tips|

Here it comes; the crib to bed transition. Are you ready?

There comes a time in every child’s life when they outgrow their crib, both physically and developmentally. As much as we may want them to stay little forever, this can be an exciting milestone in your child’s life.

The crib to bed transition is when a child is ready to make the move out of their crib and into a more traditional ‘bed’ style sleeping surface. Whether they are cognitivally ready or developmentally, it has to happen sooner or later.

Tip One: Timing is Everything

As with everything in child sleep development, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for tackling this transition. And while, many parents will move their toddler between the ages of two and four, I recommend waiting as long as possible. Personally, I find that when this transition happens after three years of age, it goes very smoothly.

Older and Wiser

The reason I recommend waiting until your toddler is three years old before making this transition is three-fold.

First at this age, your child’s impulse control is more developed.

They have learned, and are still learning, to control their impulses. At a younger age, they will act without thinking, which will not make for a smooth transition. At three years old, they might have the desire to get out of bed, but they are learning to rationalize and control these impulses.

Second, at three years old, most children have a pretty firm understanding of rules.
Threenagers have a much better understanding of boundaries and consequences should rules be broken, than their two year old counterparts.

Setting firm limits that your child can understand and adhere to, will help make the crib to big kid bed transition smoother for the both of you.

Lastly, kids can feel overwhelmed when their familiar crib is gone.

A crib can provide a  familiar sense of security, even to those kids who are physically outgrowing it.  When we remove them from it, it can feel a bit unusual and somewhat disrupting to a young child.

Waiting until they are three years old can help avoid this as they are more developed and emotionally equipped to deal with the transition into a new sleep setting.

How to make the crib to bed transition

As with any transition, there are steps to follow to help the situation go smoothly. Once you have decided your child is ready to transition to a big kid bed, here are more tips to consider.

Tip Two: Talk to them

In the lead up to this transition, you can talk to your child about it and explain what is going to happen. Keep it fun and upbeat so that they are excited about the move.

This will help them prepare mentally and emotionally for the switch, rather than having their crib disappear all of a sudden. When talking to them, it’s kind of like you’re trying to ‘sell’ them on the idea of a big kid bed.

Whatever you feel your child will respond best to, use it. You may want to say that it means they’re more grown up, they’ll have more room in the bed as opposed to a crib and/or it will be more comfortable for them.

Tip Three: Activities to Prepare

Another fun activity to help sell them on the idea of moving beds is to select some new accessories together.

You can go shopping for new bedding and sheets, and maybe some new cuddly toys for the bed too.

Countdown calendars can be good fun and a great way to prepare your child, but if you choose to use a countdown calendar, don’t let it go on for more than a few days.

Tip Four: Taking Ownership

Allow them to take ownership, within reason, of this transition. You could let them choose where in the room they would like their big kid bed to be placed, which stuffies to have on their bed, or which sheets and pillows they want.

Try and let this transition happen in a way that feels fun and exciting and like they have control over the transition.

Tip Five: Set Your Child Up for Success With Expectations

Are you familiar with the story; If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? It can serve as a cautionary tale of what happens if you give a toddler a bed without rules. 😉

Bedtimes can easily spin out of control as toddlers are notorious for trying to test limits (and your patience).

Want to keep bedtimes on track before make the crib to bed transition? Get tips on bedtimes, night wakings and more by downloading your copy of : Sleep Solutions for Toddlers + Preschoolers: Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

To cut down on the requests for multiple glasses of water, stories and hugs, I highly recommend setting up a simple list of expectations.

Not only does this help your little one again take ownership of their sleep routine, but it creates a very specific outline for them to follow.

When creating the the rules or expectations, make it into a fun activity with your child get their input into it.

Make sure that you give clear instructions on what is expected, but don’t over complicate the rules. They need to be simple and unambiguous.

Tip Six: Good Day Sunshine!

While it’s important to set rules and expectations around bed time and going to sleep, don’t overlook the morning and waking up.

Does your child know what to do when they wake up in the morning?

What time is acceptable to start the day?

Should they come out of their room by themselves?

Should they call for you?

When creating rules around morning wake up, remember to keep them realistic! If they tend to wake up around 6:00am, asking them to wait until 7:00am is too long for most young children.  You can always work towards that as a goal, but in the beginning, to help them feel successful, keep the interval much shorter.

Tip Seven: Consistency is Your Friend

It’s very important that you stick to the rules strictly in the first two weeks of the transition from crib to bed. This is the time where your toddler will test you and the boundaries that have been set.  

If you give in or give up, you set the tone for them to continue that behaviour in the future. They can only be as consistent as you are. 

Tip Eight: Follow Through With Logical Consequences

When (not, *if*) they break the rules follow through and employ logical consequences. However keep in mind, this is very different from a punishment.

Punishments breed shame and resent and never help the child to learn.

Consequences are respectful ways for the child to realize the direct impact their choice has.

When deciding on consequences, in order for them to be relevant, respectful and a teaching opportunity, they should be directly related to the mistake the child made.

For example, if they came out of their room at night, the logical consequence may be that they don’t go to the park the next day because they didn’t get a good sleep and are too tired.

While it’s important to ensure there are consequences for their actions, don’t shame, blame or manipulate. Avoid getting into power struggles with them, just have respectful consequences and they will catch on very, very quickly. 

Conquer the Crib to Bed Transition

No transition is easy for you or your child.

Believe me.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

However, at three years old, your toddler is more developed and able to cope with and understand transitions. Unlike a the two-to-three nap transition which happens at a much younger age, you can have more rational conversations with your three year old to help them understand what is happening and why.

The crib to big kid bed transition can be an exciting one for your child, as long as you present it that way. If you’re stressed about it, your child will pick up on that and be worried too.

Remember that while this has every possibility to be an exciting time, it’s still a new way of doing things, so rules and boundaries need to be set.
Set clear expectations, and follow through with helping your child learn through logical consequences.

Kids are quick learners and before you know it, your toddler will easily be going to sleep in their new bed each and every night.

Need more help getting your toddler’s sleep on track? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents.