By the time our children are around two-and-a-half to three years old, we (hopefully) have well-established sleep routines in place. Our toddlers are able to communicate with us, are more aware of their surroundings and have a great sense of humor. And, behaviorally, they start to become more challenging! I previously wrote about my struggles with my own three-year-old. I don’t think I’ve met a parent who has not struggled with this age. Whatever stage you are in feels like the worst, and some more experienced mother or father will tell you, “Just wait” – as if that’s helpful! Well, we’re here to tell you that you can do it – that sleep is just another one of the challenges that comes with having a toddler. When you figure this part out, the rest will fall into place. Believe us, a cranky toddler means a cranky parent!
When is the right time to transition from a crib to a bed? Our answer: as late as possible. For some reason, parents like to rush this transition. Perhaps we’re eager to help our babies grow up. Maybe we think it will be easier for us as parents when our kids can become more self-reliant and get in and out of bed when needed. The truth is, this transition is pretty tough and delaying it is really the best thing you can do for your entire family! Please don’t move your child into a bed until she is three-years-old. Two reasons why families may need to do this earlier might be a new baby on the way who will need the crib and toilet training.
If you are having another baby, perhaps consider putting the newborn in a pack-n-play or bassinet until you need to move her to a crib when she’s bigger. If that’s not acceptable, you might want to borrow a crib from a friend. Anything you can do to delay this transition will be worthwhile in the end.
We ended up moving our daughter into a toddler bed at 2 years and 9 months because she was toilet trained and hating having a wet pull-up in the morning. The result was a screaming child every morning at 5am. We decided that putting her in a bed so that she could use the potty we left in her room in the morning would be worth it. Thinking back on that transition, I’m not sure what else we could have done differently given the challenge we faced – but it was pretty horrible. Margo was out of bed every night until we took action. I believe if we had been able to wait a few more months, the transition would have been smoother.
Here are tips for the transition from crib to bed
Wait until your child is three years old
Establish firm sleep rules as a family before making the move
Purchase a sleep clock
Use a behavioral chart with a rewards system (5 stars and you can pick a prize from this basket)
Be firm – in the middle of the night it is easy to just crawl into bed with your little one but it is a very hard habit to break – stick with your plan
Make sure your child is not over-tired by allowing for an earlier bedtime if necessary