Leaving the security and familiarity of a well-loved crib for the new experience of a “big kid” bed can be exciting for your toddler, but it can also be a bit scary. Because kids thrive under a routine and become reliant upon the ones that have been established, helping your child to acclimate himself to spending nights in a new bed will require a bit of finesse and plenty of patience.
Unless your child is actually becoming too large for his crib or you’re expecting another child that will be using the crib, there’s no one “right” time to transition your child to a toddler bed. In most cases, it’s more effective to let your child set the pace. If he’s actively asking about a “big boy” bed, by all means start working on the transition. If he’s still attached to his crib and not ready to let go, though, there’s nothing wrong with letting him stay a bit longer.
Transitions that are motivated by the impending arrival of a new baby should be started a few months before the expected birth to make sure that your toddler is fully acclimated before having to surrender his bed to a new baby. If your children will be sharing a room, it may also be more effective to move the crib and get new bedding for it so that your toddler feels less ownership over the crib and is less likely to feel displaced or jealous.
Because a toddler can get out of a regular bed much more easily than he can extricate himself from a crib, you’ll have to create a bedtime routine that allows him to satisfy any bodily needs before bedtime and helps him understand the importance of staying in bed after a certain point.
In the beginning phase of the transition, you may find that it’s helpful to start preparing for bed an hour earlier than normal, talking about each step so that he knows the normal sequence. Share a bedtime story, and be prepared to send him back to bed several times in the beginning. Don’t shout or scold a child that won’t stay in his new bed, just direct him back with little to no discussion…
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