Most parents of young children want nothing more than a good nap. Who cares where that nap occurs? It can be in the recliner, on a pallet on the floor – anywhere you can get 5 minutes with no demands on your attention. But kids are another story. They want company.
So often, it seems that the little ones call the shots when it comes to when – and where – they sleep. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With forethought and preparation, you can get your child to sleep happily in their crib and, eventually, move to a regular bed. To avoid regression when it’s time to move to a toddler or small child bed, you can try some of these tactics.
#1 – When to Transition from a Crib to a Bed
At 9 months old, my kid came walking down the hall, having climbed out of his crib. No kidding – he was already walking, and we were trying to decide what to do about the bed.
Most people, though, transition their children at around 2 years of age. In fact, 18 months to 2.5 years is the time span when the little ones start walking and climbing. This mobility makes it easier for the little one to access his or her bed and makes it important to make the move for the child’s own safety. You can read a more detailed guide here.
#2 – Keep the Crib
One way to help your little one get used to a bed is to turn his crib into a bed. Most cribs allow you to remove one side and drop the mattress. Your baby/toddler will still have his own, familiar bed, but the danger of falling is removed.
#3 – Upgrade the Mattress
Some toddlers are excited about the chance to get new bed linens and furniture. Others want to keep their blankets, pillows, and snuggies the same. But at some point, the little one needs a decent mattress rather than the crib mattress.
At this point, you may be able to find a mattress that will fit your crib. Some manufacturers make air mattresses that will fit quite well, and you can adjust the pressure and firmness.
#4 – If you have a restless sleeper on your hands
It’s fair to say that I have some experience in the arena of dealing with a restless child that has problems sleeping. Just waiting it out doesn’t do much here. Be proactive and learn about what you can do, I personally found that a weighted blanket made all the difference.
In case you don’t know what it is, it’s a blanket designed to calm by putting on some extra weight. The best ones are made of poly-pellets, glass beads or even sand.
They even make weighted blankets for adults and I ended up getting one for myself. I never looked back to my old thrifty throw. It started out as a test – I wanted to feel what is it about it that does the trick. It’s hard to explain, but this blanket gave me a sense of back-to-womb security and cosiness. You can read more about choosing a good one here.
#5 – Maintain Your Routine
The change from one bed to another doesn’t mean you have to abandon your routine. Don’t try to make your child just “go to bed” unless he or she always has. If you usually have story time or cuddle time, keep it up. Tuck the child in as you always have. If you lie down with the child for a while to get him or her to sleep, at least now you have a little more space!
#6 – Make Big Plans
When the toddler is ready for a new bed, it’s like a big party! They are probably ready for a new theme based on the newest Disney movie release. You can plan shopping and share the fun your child has to select bed linens and décor. This gives the child a sense of control, too, which makes the transition a little easier. Often, moving your little one to a new bed or new bedroom is tough on the parent and the child is bound to pick up on this. By making a party out of it, you can both enjoy the process.
#7 – Check Furniture and Décor Placement
Start out with the furniture in the same place you had it in the original layout. If the crib was against the west wall, then place the new bed in the same spot. When your child is ready for a change, he or she will let you know. As you hang the décor, keep in mind that your child is short, and his eye-level is far different from yours. If possible, hang the items low enough for the child to reach them. A child-friendly layout will make it more likely that your child will want to spend time in his or her room. Character pictures or static-clings can create a fun play area when placed on the lower 1/3 of the wall. A shelf at the child’s eye level, holding an unbreakable tea set, is a great invitation to play in the room. You can read more guidelines here.
#8 – Sleep in there Yourself
Try it out! You may be surprised at the shadows and sounds in your child’s room! That branch may actually cast a shadow that looks like claws.
It may also give you insight into the comfort of the room. Does the vent blow directly on your child’s bed? Maybe the light from the neighbour’s driveway shines directly on his or her pillow, or the TV sounds louder because the hallway amplifies it.
Light, air, sound, physical comfort – all work together to make your child happy in the new bedroom. As much as we may wish we could cuddle that little one from now on, our job is to teach them to be comfortable on their own. You’ll enjoy the break, and your little one will be stronger and sleep well.