If you have a little monkey who can effortlessly climb out of the crib you might be considering making the crib to bed transition. The move from crib to bed can be an exciting milestone for your little one. It’s important to do some planning regarding the transition to ensure your child continues to sleep well through the move.
When should you make the move? It’s important to delay the crib to bed transition until your child is developmentally capable of understanding sleep rules. The great privilege of a big kid’s bed comes with great responsibility. Most families find delaying the move until their child is as close to three years old as possible leads to the smoothest transition.
What other factors should you consider? Be aware of other changes happening in your child’s life. Avoid making the move from crib to bed when a new baby is born, when your child is potty training or when your family is moving to a new home. It’s best not to make the move because your toddler is not sleeping well and you feel he will sleep better in a big kid’s bed. A crib provides more than enough sleeping space for most children under three years old and the newfound freedom will usually lead to more problems, not to less.
What can you do to extend the use of the crib? If your child is crib jumping and is far younger than three years old, there are some tricks you can try to extend the use of the crib. Sleep sacks are great sleep item because they provide a cue that it’s time to sleep and ensure your child is safe and warm through the night. An added bonus to using a sleep sack is that it prevents a climber from achieving the leg extension needed to make the leap. Lowering the crib mattress to it’s lowest position seems obvious but is often overlooked. You can also try flipping your crib. If your crib’s headboard is higher then it’s footboard you can turn it around to make the climb more difficult. If all these tips aren’t keeping your little monkey from scaling the crib, you’ll need to try a different approach. Catch your escapee in the act, say a firm, “No,” and return her silently to the crib. You’ll need to do this repeatedly until she stops jumping and it will take some time and consistency. Once you’ve pulled out all the stops and your monkey is still climbing out you’ll need to make the crib to bed transition for your child’s safety.
How can you make the transition from crib to bed go smoothly? A consistent bedtime routine is important as you make the change. Children thrive in a consistent environment and confident sleepers are children who know what to expect at bedtime. Help your little one prepare for the move by inviting him to pick out some new bedding or his new big kid’s bed if you’re purchasing one. Discuss the upcoming move and remind your child that he’ll still go to sleep the way he always has, he’ll just be sleeping in his new bed, not his crib. Have a family meeting and create some sleep rules. Keep them simple and easy for your child to understand. Use a visual cue to help your child understand when it’s morning and okay to get out of bed. Tot clocks or digital clocks work best.
What can you do if your little one keeps getting out of bed? You’ll need to follow a consistent behaviour strategy if your child won’t stay in bed. If your child gets out of bed in the night, you’ll need to take him by the hand and return him silently to bed. The silent part of this method is very important. When parents get angry or give extra tuck ins and cuddles, they inadvertently reinforce the behaviour of getting out of bed. If you don’t reinforce the behaviour with attention (negative or positive) it will be short-lived and your little one will learn to stay in bed.
Alysa Dobson is a mom, wife and a Certified Child Sleep Consultant. As a mother to two former insomniacs, turned amazing sleepers, Alysa enjoys helping other families get the sleep they need. You can read more of Alysa’s writing at http://www.sleepwellbaby.ca/category/blog/ or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.