Childhood is full of exciting milestones: first tooth, first solid foods, first steps. Making the switch from a crib to a bed is another sign your child is growing up. For some parents the idea can be a bit nerve-wracking. They wonder what life will be like if the child is free to get out of bed whenever he wants. Will he be roaming the halls at night? Will he ever settle down and go to sleep?
The closer your child is to age three, the better. In My experience, anything younger than 2.5 years old is too early. Very young children do not have the cognitive ability to really understand the boundaries and expectations around staying in bed when they can so easily get out on their own. This can make it hard to enforce the rules and can create power struggles.
If your child is not sleeping well currently and is testing the boundaries around sleep, it is not a great time to move to a bed. I recommend sorting out the sleep issues first and then making the transition from crib to bed.
Make it fun, but not too fun. You can get your child involved with picking out the new bed and choosing new bedding, but it is a delicate balance. You don’t want to make too big of a deal about it because you don’t want to put added pressure on the child. If he gets really excited about the process he might have a hard time settling in and actually going to sleep!
Beware of the honeymoon phase. Most toddlers do well with the transition until the fun wears off. Once the novelty is gone and the child gets comfortable (usually around the two-week mark) then the games usually start up. The key is to be prepared ahead of time so you know what to do when this happens.
If your child comes out of bed, you will need to remain calm and implement a consequence such as closing the door. With consequences, I always like a reward. So reward good behaviour for staying in bed and sleeping the night there.
And of course, if you need help with this transition, I am here to help you make it a smooth one.