Moving your child from the crib to the bed is a milestone moment in your baby’s, and your, life. While some babies grow faster than others, you shouldn’t follow a timeframe from a book you’re reading or online research. Focus on your baby’s growth and let them show you when they’re ready to take their next leap. Don’t rush. Over time, he or she will give you the go-ahead in their actions.
Pay attention to actions such as your baby wanting to climb out of the crib or wanting to go to the bathroom independently. These are usually small signs that indicate a child’s growth, meaning it’s time for parents to start considering the transition. However, as mentioned, there is no set age for this. And, if you want to make the transition as smooth, painless and positive as possible, you need to do it when they are absolutely ready. When the time comes to make a change, here are a few tips to consider:
- Wait for a stress-free moment to make the transition
Having a baby and watching them grow is an exciting time in your life. The last thing you want to do is to force situations and speed up the process of trying to make them become independent faster. Timing is everything and, especially with a young baby, you need to monitor their actions to see if they are ready for a change. Not if you’re ready for the change. If your baby is currently sick (or recovering from a recent illness) or if you’ve just moved into a new home, try to wait and attempt the move at a later stage. Often, toddlers are only ready to move after the age of three, so bear this in mind and try to refrain from pushing.
- Research and find the right toddler bed
Before you can think of changing things up for your baby, make sure you’ve done your research and purchased the correct bed. Many parents purchase convertible cribs which can turn into a bed thereafter, making the transition process seamless and stress-free. If you need to buy an entirely new bed for your baby, consider factors such as the durability of the bed and how high it is from the floor.
- Include them in the shopping process
The older your toddler gets, the easier it will be to have the “big boy” or “big girl” chat with them. Moving from a crib to a bed is a completely new world for your child. The big, openness of the bed can be overwhelming at first and even scary for them. So, in order to make them feel more comfortable with the process, include them when shopping for a new bed. You want your child to feel safe and allowing them to give you their feedback once trying out the different beds will also put you at ease. The more involved your child is in the changeover process, the more willing they will be to sleep in their new bed.
- Let your child choose their own bedding
Another part of this process that will bring your child joy is allowing them to choose their own bedding for summer and winter. For winter, look around for soft mink blankets available in South Africa or a fleece blanket to keep them warm. These blankets come in a variety of different colours, so you will be able to choose a colourful pattern or picture that they like. Let them choose the bedding that appeals to them most, allowing him or her to feel involved in the entire process. You might not think that they understand or think it’s important to allow them to help you, but it is. The smallest detail can spark excitement and encourage them to sleep in the new bed that “they” bought. Speaking of their new-found independence, while your child might think that they’re big and strong from what you tell them, they can still encounter a few accidents in their new bed that you need to be prepared for. So, be sure to pick up two or three blanket specials to save you in those moments.
- Expect to experience a couple of falls
Because you will no longer have the crib walls up to protect your child from falling out, you will need to get used to seeing a few falls, bumps and bruises. In order to reduce the pain, try to child-proof your child’s bedroom as well as your house, to ensure that if he or she does fall off of their bed, it will (hopefully) be as painless as possible. Place pillows or thick carpets around their new bed until they get used to it.
- Start with naps only
If you think it’s time to move your child into a bed, try to introduce the “big” bed slowly by only letting your child sleep on it during nap time. These small associations will familiarise them with the bigger bed and get them used to sleeping on such a big space. If you make the environment as comfortable as possible by adding their favourite teddy and fleece blanket to the bed during nap time, they will start to feel more at ease. Over time, you can create a countdown with your child as to when they will say goodbye to the crib.
It’s never easy taking the next step when your child feels uneasy or scared of a particular move, but it’s all part of growing up. With the right approach and a slow process of elimination, you will be able to have them sleeping in a big bed in no time. Any new bed is costly and, especially because your child will be so new to the size, invest in a mattress protector and several bedding options in the event of an accident.