Cribs provide tiny tots a safe place to sleep, but it’s only a matter of time before you realize your toddler has grown too big to continue sleeping there. Maybe you suddenly learn that he has learned how to climb out of it by himself. Maybe you have to make space for a new baby. Any of these means it’s time to start getting your child used to sleeping independently in a bigger bed.
This process might be different for every family, but the goals are the same: to teach kids to sleep independently and avoid disturbances to parents’ slumber. Here are five mistakes to avoid when transitioning your toddler from crib to bed.
Starting the transition too early
The key to knowing when to start the transition from crib to bed is to watch your child’s sleep habits. For one, if he still needs you in the room to fall asleep, he might not be ready to make the switch yet. The transition might be easier if you start when your child can fall asleep on his own.
Another sign to watch out for is if your child has outgrown the crib or is trying to climb out of it—both telltale signs that he’s ready to sleep in a bed, according to experts.
Not adjusting his bedtime
Motherly advises moving your child’s bedtime an hour earlier when you start the transition since it is likely he won’t be able to fall asleep as easily as usual. This way, you make sure he gets all the sleep he needs and avoid extra crankiness in the morning.
Not getting him involved
Help make the switch more bearable for your child by involving him in the process. You can ask him to pick out new sheets or pillows and assist you in setting up the bed. Explaining the situation to him can also help. Tell him why he needs to make the switch and the rules you expect him to follow, like not getting out of bed in the middle of the night and going to sleep at a specific time.
Chances are, for the first few nights, your child will repeatedly get out of bed or attempt to make you stay in his room. It can be tempting to just let him stay with you or remain by his side until he’s dozing off, but doing so might only make it harder to learn to fall asleep by himself. Instead, calmly walk him back to bed and remind him that he needs to stay there. Remember to respond the same way each time so that your child eventually gets the message.
Not establishing a reward system
Transitioning from the crib to a big-kid bed can be a difficult process for a child. Give your tot the boost he needs by creating a simple reward system to recognize his efforts. For example, SheKnows suggests giving him a sticker in the morning if he manages to stay in bed throughout the night, which can then motivate him to keep up his behavior.
For more ideas on how to make your child's transition from crib to bed as drama-free as possible, click here.