Sleep Tips: Transitioning from Crib to Bed: How to Keep your Kid in their Bed

Transitioning from Crib to Bed & Keeping Kids in Bed

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Continuing with our Sleep Tips, what is the best way to approach transferring your child from crib to bed? This is either something that has been decided because your child is ready, or this has been decided as a last resort for the safety of your child; we will discuss both. Transferring to a big kid bed can be both exciting and terrifying for both child and parent, so let’s consider the facts and approach this change with thought and care. Just as with any transition, there are things to consider in making it as smooth as possible. Once you and your child have established a good sleep routine, the last thing you want to do is disrupt it. We will go over the best approach to transitioning your big kid from crib to their bed, so as not disrupt anyone’s restful night.

Transition from Crib to Bed: Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Does my child fully understand what is expected of them at night? Do they know they are to stay in their bed? Do they understand playtime is over and it is sleep time? This is important! Do not rush your child to transition from crib to bed if you don’t have to. Sometimes we get blindsided by the excitement of change and next stages, that we rush into something our child is not fully ready for.

2. Is my child climbing out of the crib and I NEED to transition them for their safety?

3. Is my child uncomfortable in the crib because of space?

4. Are they asking to be in a big kid bed?

When we transition our child, we want to ensure their success in handling the change. To best approach this change, we need to ask ourselves the questions above and fully think about the outcome. If your child has started to climb out of their crib but they are not fully ready to successfully make the transition, see if there are any changes you can make to prevent them from continuing to climb out the crib. Is the back of the crib higher than the front of the crib? Can the crib be turned around to stop them from climbing out? Have all blankets, pillows, and crib bumpers been removed so as not to give them any climbing leverage? If all options have been exhausted and there is no safe way to keep your child in their crib, then transferring them is the only safe choice.

Before your child transitions into a bed where they can freely get in and out of themselves, the room needs to be completely baby proofed. Make sure all plugs, outlets, and cords are safe. Make sure there are no cords or strings hanging down from blinds, make sure all small toys have been removed. To help with baby proofing, check out this baby proof list here. Be prepared for your child to get out of their bed, make sure all toys are put away and cannot be taken down or played with (if possible) to detract them from wanting to get out of bed. You may opt to put a baby proof door knob cover on, to prevent your child from exiting the room. Make sure you have a video monitor, so you can hear and see your child to ensure their safety.

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Transition from Crib to Bed Tips:

1. Preparing your child a few weeks in advance and make it exciting! Read books, talk about it, look at pictures, bring it up naturally when you see it in shows or movies. Involve them and get excited!

2. Do not transition around any other big changes i.e. around a new baby coming to avoid buying another crib. It will be much easier to spend a little bit of money on another crib to ensure a successful transition and a good night’s sleep. Wait until your child is fully ready and do not make any negative associations with the change and addition of a new baby.

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3. Make the change about them and only them. Hype up the fact that they are a big kid, and this is a big kid change. As mentioned before, do not make the change about them needing to give their crib to the new baby. Adding a new baby to the mix is enough change as it is, you do not want to add the association of another big change to that.

4. Ask your friends to send you pictures of their kids in their big kid beds. By letting them see real life examples of their friends in big kids will help them get excited to make the change themselves.

5. Take them to the store to help pick out their new bed and bedding. Let them test out the beds. Let them weight in on the decision.

6. Involve them in taking apart the old bed and putting their new bed together. Kids love being able to help and this is important part of the prep process. Let them hand you the tools or put the screws in a bag. Involving them in all the steps will help them gradually see the process and understand the change.

7. Try to have everything taken apart and set up in one day to make the transition all at once. Once you get the ball rolling on the transition, it’s best to do it all at once while there is momentum. Prepare for a full day of buying the bed, taking apart the crib, and setting up the new bad. Do not have anything else planned for that day to ensure its completion in one day.

8. Make it special and celebrate their new bed. Read books right away on their new bed. Play a game on their new bed. Have a dance party in their room. Do whatever you can to celebrate this change and make it exciting for them.

9. Talk to them about what is expected of them with their new bed. Go over all the details (even if they already know); “we will go potty and brush teeth, then we will get into our new bed to read a story and sing a song. You will get to use your nightlight to look at a few books before bed. You will need to stay in your bed until it is time to get up.” Going over exactly what is expected of them will help to make the transition smooth.

10. Have a visual queue for them to see when it’s time to wake up: use an alarm clock that turns green when they can get up. Tell them if their alarm clock is not green, they are to stay in bed. When their alarm clock turns green, they can get up. Set it a few times for practice so they can see and act it out.

11. Night light to sleep with. Having a self-controllable night light for kids is comforting to sleep with. Plus, it gives them the little bit of extra light to look at a few books before bed. Allowing them to have the control of when they fall asleep is helpful in getting them to stay in bed. Limit the amount of books to 3-5. Let them know they can look at the books in bed, when they are done, they are to go to sleep. If your children share a room or will share a room, be sure to check out my room share tips here.

12. Lastly, when making a big change, it can be helpful to use an incentive/reward system with your child. Think of what motivates your child and use that to your advantage. You can make a reward chart to help incentive your child.

These tips should help your child stay in their bed and have a successful transition to a big kid bed. Being able to handle something unfamiliar and new is highly reliant on them being adequately prepared. Children are creatures of habit; they like order, structure, and routine. By them knowing fully how a change will be made and what is expected of them will greatly help them in being able to make a smooth transition and not disrupt sleep. However, be understanding that this is a big change for your child and be sensitive to the time they need to adjust. It may take them a few days before they feel comfortable in their new bed.

Looking for other sleep tips or adding a new baby? Check out Tips for Big Brother, Baby & Toddler Sharing a Room, & Sleep Tips for your Baby, Toddler, & Preschooler.

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