It’s been months, and your toddler may be snuggling in bed with you as you’re reading this article. You may be thinking, “How can we get our child to transition to a toddler bed?" You’re not alone. Many parents are in this situation now or have traveled this road before. It seems like it was just yesterday that you brought your sweet baby home. Time has progressed, and the bright colored toddler bed is empty every night because your child has somehow convinced you its best to sleep with in bed with you.
Transitioning your toddler into their own bed could sometimes feel like an uphill battle. And many nights it may feel easier to just avoid the challenge and allow your toddler to stay in the bed with you. Well, here is the catch, most times they will not transition into their own bed until you commit to helping them make the transition. No worries! We are going to give you tips on when and how to transition to a toddler bed.
When to Transition to Toddler Bed
Knowing when it’s time to transition to a “Big Kid” bed is a big deal! If your toddler has his or her own room, or currently shares a space with a sibling, this is a good start. When your toddler begins to recognize things and spaces as their own is an ideal time to build on that confidence. Your little one is getting more and more independent, so this is the time for you to be ready!If your toddler is saying, “that’s my bed,” this could be a first sign for you to encourage the transition to a toddler bed. When they declare ownership over their bed, respond by saying “You’re exactly right! This is your bed!” Now, it’s time to customize it to your little one’s preferences.
Creativity with a Toddler Bed
One of the first things that will help your little guy or gal into a toddler bed is making sure that the bed is inviting, attractive and colorful. You may be asking what does attractive have to do with a toddler bed! This means to creatively bring attention and desire to sleep in his or her own bed.
There are so many toddler beds to choose from these days, and you know what colors or characters your toddler likes. Or if you are not exactly sure, go shopping with your little one and stand back and watch what beds they’re interested in. Cartoon characters, colors, and frames also help to create the desired look your little one is drawn to.And don’t forget the bedding! Pillowcases, sheets, and comforters have an array of themes your toddler can choose from. Did you buy a crib that could transition into a toddler bed? Make it a big deal when the crib turns into the “big boy” or “big girl” toddler bed.
Communicating About the Switch to Toddler Bed
Next, start the conversation about sleeping in their own “big kid” bed. As you go about your day, take them in their room to read, change clothes, play toys, etc., as this will allow them to visually see their bed as you remind them of their ownership.
Pick a special book to read to them at night that talks about sleeping in their own bed and make sure the book depicts pictures that they can easily see and identify with. Even if they are not sleeping in their toddler bed at night, continue to communicate during bedtime that they are going to sleep in their bed. Even if they only stay in their bed for a short time, being consistent is key. Consistently telling them that this is their new toddler bed while giving them positive affirmation will help in the transition.Make sure that story time happens while you and your toddler sit on their new bed. It could be at night or in the daytime; this will help your toddler correlate story time with their bed. Communication is more than what you say. Make sure that your toddler not only hears you referring to their bed but sees your actions with the new sheets, blankets and pillows that you put into this new transition.
How to Transition to Toddler Bed
Warning: You might be sleeping with your toddler at first. During the beginning of the transition from crib to toddler bed, your youngster may be resistant to sleeping on their own. You may find that your toddler may ask you to stay in the bed with them for a few nights, or few weeks, during the first part of their sleep. This is normal and will require patience and a tight squeeze.
Going from a crib to toddler bed in their own room could cause some anxiety for a toddler. Be sure to keep a nightlight in you toddler’s room if you think it would help make the transition. Some nights you may find that your toddler will want to get up in the middle of the night and come back into your bed. The night light will not only help them if they seem to be afraid of the dark, but it will also assist to see their surroundings if they need to get up to practice their nighttime potty training.
If you do find that they have gotten up in the middle of the night to get into your bed, encourage them back to their bed by walking them to their room and reassuring them that everything is ok. Events like this will happen, and it will be a reminder of a new chapter they are adapting to at this stage.
As your toddler begins to show signs to transition into a toddler bed, remember, as a parent, your words, actions and reassurances are an essential part of the journey. Some toddlers will transition easily, and some will have a challenge, however it will take creativity, patience, consistency and time. This is a fun time as your toddler begins to grow and become independent.
By Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB
Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB, is a Clinical Practice Specialist in Maryland. The information of this article has been prepared by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.