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How do i transition my child from a toddler bed to a big kid bed?

6 Steps From Crib to “Big Kid Bed” and how to do it successfully

When do I transition my child to a big kid bed

Moving your little one from a crib to a “big kid bed” is a big step for both of you. It’s a major milestone, and can bring up mixed emotions kinda like walking for the first time! But like any other milestone, there’s the potential it might lead to some challenges. Sometimes with the development of a new milestone  your child may have a bit of a hard time or feel a little apprehensive at first. 

However, with the right approach, you can avoid some of the more common issues that come with the switch. Here are 6 tips I recommend to make the transition smoother:

1. Wait a bit before making the switch, preferably somewhere between the 2.5 to 3-year mark. If you can wait, I’d suggest that you do. Before this age, it’s generally too much freedom and the child doesn’t developmentally understand the concept of staying in bed. It can also be dangerous for a young toddler to have free roam of their bedroom and the rest of the house potentially if they can get the door open. 

2. Communicate your expectations clearly to your little one and try to frame the situation in a very fun and positive way. Let them know they’re getting a new bed, offer to let them pick it out, let them help assemble it, and have a little celebration the first night.

3. Don’t give them any ideas! Avoid telling your child “now sweetie, don’t get out of bed.” They might not have even thought of doing that until you suggested it! So just don’t bring any attention to it.

4. Expect them to test the boundaries.
Your child may have a bit of a “honeymoon phase” initially, and then at week 3 or 4, they might start to experiment with their newfound freedom, playing in their room, coming out to visit after bedtime, and so on.
Offering some incentive can help prevent this behavior. Make sure you download my “Toddler Bedtime Routine Chart” and print it out to have a visual reminder for you and your child to go through at bedtime.

If all this is sounding overwhelming to you, I invite you to think about if it’s the right time to get some additional support. When working with us, we give you all the support and guidance you need to make this transition.

5. Do what you say. When moving your little one from their crib to a regular bed, it can be tempting to give in to their demands to go back to their crib.
However, doing so sends the message that the change is optional, which it is not.
Instead of caving, take the time to listen to your little one’s concerns and address them thoughtfully, offering reassurance and suggesting small changes like new sheets or a different pillow to make them more comfortable.
Just don’t offer to put them back in the crib, or you’ll likely face the same battle next time.

Once they are settled in their new bed, consider getting them a digital clock with the minutes covered, telling them they can’t leave their room until the hour says 7 (or whatever time works for you).
There are even clocks like the OK To Wake or Hatch, which glow a certain color when it’s okay to get up.
Just make sure it doesn’t emit blue light during the night because blue light is not helpful for sleep.

6. Have a plan and stick to it.
Keep in mind that even if they sleep well in the new bed, toddlers are bound to test their boundaries and get up at night. For this, it’s important to have consequences in place that help them understand leaving their room is not okay.
When (notice I didn’t say if) when they get up out of their bed, give one warning and walk them back to their bed.
If they continue to leave their room, implement a consequence like closing their door for a minute or taking away their lovie for a few minutes.
Increase the time for subsequent infractions.
Remember, consequences are only effective if the child doesn’t like them.

Making the transition to a big kid bed marks an important milestone in your toddler’s life.
It is a chance for them to earn increased freedom and choices, even if it comes with added responsibility that may be hard for them to understand at first.

Parenting toddlers can be challenging, as they constantly want to test and explore new boundaries; however, when they get out of bed during the night, make sure you set clear expectations and consequences right away.

With patience and consistency, you can teach your toddler how to respect the rules while still having fun in their new bed.
Stay consistent and determined, and before you know it, your little one will be snoozing peacefully all night long.

Don’t forget to grab our FREE “Toddler Guide” printable along with our other free resources so you can stay on top of your child’s sleep needs.