Moving your little crib snuggling baby into a "big kid" bed can be one of the most exciting and stressful milestones for both of you. If they are excited and reluctant at the same time, that is perfectly normal! Here are our top ten tips for helping them transition into the new bed, as well as bed and mattress advice.
Make your child part of the process. Show them beds and bedding options, let them know their favorite stuffed animal or blanket is super excited to move with them. Let them pick one thing special about the new bed. A special deco pillow, a fluffy blanket, anything that makes them associate it with a positive change.
Use your judgement if you think your child will be more comfortable in a toddler bed or a twin or full size bed. A child that loves their crib loves the comfort and safety of it. A toddler bed may not feel so big and overwhelming. Just remember a toddler bed is recommended for 18-36 months, so depending on when you are making the move, you will have to upgrade again rather soon.
While a twin and especially a full bed seems so gigantic when your little tiny toddler is in it, there are ways to make it snugly and feel safer to them. Guard rails are a absolute must. If the bed is against a wall, then just the other side needs them, but if the bed is freestanding, use TWO rails. Rails easily fold down to make changing sheets and reading time a breeze.
If you choose the toddler bed, most come with rails built in. Make sure they are built into the bed and stationary, and preferably not slatted. Do not use tents or covers over the bed.
Doctors recommend a innerspring mattress for your growing child. Their bodies change and grow at a rapid rate during their younger years, and gel or foam mattresses simply do not provide the spinal support needed.
Create boundaries from the beginning. Explain that they have to stay in their bed and give them encouragement about how big and "grown up" they are. Give small rewards if needed to keep them thinking about it. One of the scariest thoughts for me was having one of our kids walking around the house in the middle of the night trying to get to us in the dark.
Use a themed bedding or decorate the bed with removable peel and stick wall decals if it will help motivate your child to transition into their new space. The beauty in that is that you can always change the bedding and take the decals off as they grow instead of having to buy another bed.
Have other big changes going on? New baby coming? Take the time several months prior to your due date to make this a special time for your child. Waiting until the baby is born and home and then start moving everything around may be more than they can handle. Although I would recommend making the change if you are moving houses as your child will not associate their new room with their crib and you can make it extra special and exciting for them.
Use their older peers as examples. Have an older sibling, cousin, neighbor or friend? Get them involved to show your child just how exciting it is! Maybe have a sleepover to try it out.
Look for beds with non toxic paints and finishes, and be sure to invest in mattress and pillow covers. They are extremely helpful for allergies and also to protect the mattress from stains and liquids.
In the end, have some fun with it. No adults that I know still sleep in cribs so don't worry....you got this :)