The signs are clear — it’s time for the toddler-bed transition — but doing it right may take some trial and error. Take it from a triplet mom.
By Sarah Lyons
The moment I’ve been dreading for months has arrived. I can no longer contain my triplet 2-year-olds in their cribs. Two-thirds of them are climbing out and destroying the room. The one child who cannot climb out has declared her crib as party central. The two monkeys go straight into her crib after they have destroyed the room with such fun activities as opening the shades, emptying drawers and dumping diapers. I find them like this on a daily basis, screaming and cheering as they bounce up and down in one crib together. This is how I knew I could no longer wait to make the transition to toddler beds. Here are some transition tips to help you from a now happy triplet mom.
1. WAIT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
If your child is climbing out of his crib and wandering the room, it is time to switch to a big-kid bed. Climbing in and out of his crib puts him at high risk of falling and getting hurt. However, if he’s content in his crib and has made no attempt to escape, don’t rush to make the switch. My oldest son slept in his crib without trying to climb out until almost 3 years old. Eventually, he became too tall for a crib and he had an easy transition to a twin bed.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME
Many parents will transition their babies to a twin or toddler bed because they need the crib for a soon-to-be arriving younger sibling. If possible, try to make the transition to a big-kid bed when there are few other transitions going on in your child’s life. Starting a new school, potty training, moving or the arrival of a new sibling can all be reasons to delay the switch. If you do have a new baby arriving and need the crib, consider starting shortly after you find out you’re pregnant, using a bassinet for Baby for a few months or purchasing a second crib.
3. MAKE IT HIS OWN
If you decide it’s the right time to make the switch, get your child excited about his new bed. Purchase new bedding and pillows to make his new space more welcoming and exciting. Consider updating his room with new big-kid decor or buying playful pillowcases with his favorite cartoon characters on them.
4. CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
Whether your child was climbing out of bed before the switch or not, he will have more freedom in his bedroom than he had in the past, and it’s important to make sure he’s safe during rest times. Secure dressers and bookshelves because little ones will try to climb them. Bolt dressers, changing tables or any other furniture to the wall to make the safest environment possible. Put away breakable items, cover outlets, eliminate shade pull cords and clear the room of any hazards. If your child can open the bedroom door, consider installing a door knob safety cover so he can’t wander the house freely if he wakes up earlier than you.
5. BE CONSISTENT
Transitions can be difficult for little ones, but they are easier when you’re consistent. Most parents worry that once their child does transition to a big-kid bed, he will stop sleeping well. For the best results, put your child to bed when he’s tired and ready to rest. If you followed a daily routine before laying him down in his crib, continue it. If not, try starting a daily routine that looks something like this:
• Bath time
• Put on pajamas
• Read a book
• Brush teeth
• Visit the restroom
• Have some snuggle time
• Drink of water
• Bed time
When your child knows what to expect, he will know that it’s not playtime and it’s time to rest.
Transitioning from a crib to a big-kid bed is a big deal! It’s exciting, fun and sometimes challenging. Help your child with this milestone by being supportive and giving positive reinforcement. Praise and reward him for making it through each night, for taking a nap and for following rules. Before too long, the crib will be a thing of the past.
Sarah Lyons is a midwestern mom of six children, including 2-year-old triplets.