How to Handle Toddler Transitions
Helping kids say goodbye to their bottle, binky, crib, and more
Big Kid Beds
If ditching the pacifier is traumatic for kids, taking down the crib is equally distressing for parents. Something about a crib just says “sweet little baby,” but a bed screams “BIG KID!” I’ve seen 4-year-olds who still sleep in cribs because their parents claim that, “She’s just not ready yet.” Kind of makes you wonder exactly who’s not ready.
While there’s no perfect time to shop for new furniture, situations like the imminent arrival of a little sibling or a child who’s learned to climb out of her crib are good reasons to make the switch. Some folks advocate setting up the new bed in the child’s room along with the crib and letting Junior try taking his naps on the bed for a week to get used to the idea before going all the way. When I was a few weeks from my due date with our second baby, we tried the cold turkey method of talking up the big girl bed for a week, buying a butterfly comforter with fancy new sheets, and generally making the whole project sound as exciting as Christmas morning at Disneyland. Our 23-month-old daughter jumped in her new bed on the first night and never looked back.
No matter how you make the transition, make sure you put guard rails on any open sides and a waterproof mattress pad under the sheets. If you’re concerned about your little wanderer getting up at night and roaming the house, put a safety gate across her doorway or a childproof door handle cover on the inside of her bedroom door (so you can get in, but she can’t get out).
Betts advises, “If kids climb the gate and refuse to stay in their room, I suggest that a parent sit on the floor outside the gate to get the child to sleep and then move them to their bed after they are asleep. After several nights of this, most kids will begin to settle themselves down without their parents present.”
True Life Tale: Our daughter went missing on the second day in her new bed. Although we put a lock inside her room, she was nowhere to be found in the morning. We frantically searched the house, imagining her scared, hurt, and alone. She turned up fast asleep under a pile of stuffed animals in the corner of her room!
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