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How to switch your toddler from their crib to a toddler bed

6 tips to help transition from a crib to a toddler bed

It happened! Your little one successfully climbed out of that crib.  It’s time to transition to a toddler bed. The transition can feel just as overwhelming for parents as it can for toddlers, and I get it! When parents ask me about how to make this transition, my goal is really just to help make the change as smooth as possible.  Minimizing lost sleep is important for everyone!

Keep calm and follow these 6 quick tips to ease the transition:

1.   Establish a bedtime routine before making the transition

A bedtime routine is important for every child, but especially important when transitioning from a crib to a bed. Make sure you are consistent in your routine for at least a few weeks before making the transition. Consistency is key. Use the same routine when transitioning to a toddler bed.

2.   Let your child be involved in picking the new bed and bed linens

Discuss the transition at length and make it exciting! If your child can choose the linens and toddler bed, they will be more excited to make the transition and sleep in the bed they picked out! We want to make this a positive experience.  Your child should feel proud that he or she is transitioning out of a crib! Children are always more successful when they feel that they have a piece of control.

3.   Make the bed feel safe and cozy

This is a big one! Cribs feel very safe and confined. It is often overwhelming for a child to transition to a big open space and find a sense of calm to sleep – so we want to do everything we can to make the new, bigger bed feel safer. Add blankets and comfort items to the bed. Perhaps even add a guardrail to the edge of the bed. If your little one is having a particularly difficult time settling into the toddler bed, a dock is a great way to add a sense of security (the Dockatot Grand Dock is my favorite!).

4.   Put the bed in the same spot the crib was in

We want to keep as many things as consistent as possible. If you can, keep everything else the same in your child’s room. Change can be very stressful for children and during transitions we want to minimize that change as much as possible.

5.   Don’t make the transition during potty training

I am always surprised by how many parents decide to transition to a toddler bed and potty train at the exact same time! These are two big transitions and better kept separate. Too much change at once can be overwhelming for a child and make both transitions more difficult.  My suggestion is to transition to a toddler bed and then begin potty training.

6.   Expect to lose some sleep in the transition phase

Your child now has the freedom to get out of bed and he or she will use it! It is going to take time and patience, but stick with the routine and expect some sleep regression in the process.

Your baby is growing up! There may be a few sleepless nights, but try to enjoy the process.  Your little one will adjust to the new bed and sleep routine before you know it.

Dr. Allie Ticktin is an occupational therapist with a specialty in sensory integration and early-childhood development. She is founder of Play 2 Progress in Los Angeles, a play-based learning center whose mission is to build skills for the journey through childhood using the power of play.


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