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When and How to Move to a Toddler Bed

This question was submitted a few days ago, and it’s one I hear a lot:

“Do you have any tips or tricks to transition from a crib to a converted toddler bed? We waited until 3 and are still debating exactly when to change over and the best way to be successful with it.”

First of all, great job on keeping your kids in their cribs until age 3! Let’s talk about that first.

When should you move your child from a crib to a toddler bed?

Numerous studies have shown that sleeping in a crib until the age of 3 helps your child sleep better over their lifetime. I definitely recommend this, as well. If your toddler still sleeps well in the crib, I would leave them there as long as possible.

The younger the child, the less likely they are to stay in a bed when you try to transition them. They come in the parents’ room frequently, which means less sleep for mom and dad. So, if your toddler is still under the age of 3 years, here are some ways to keep them in the crib a little longer:

  • Put them back in a sleep sack
  • If they take the sleep sack off, put it on backward
  • If that doesn’t work, put the crib mattress all the way down on the floor
  • And if all else fails, try using a crib tent (this one has the best ratings on Amazon, but there are several similar products)

If nothing works, you can simply lock your bedroom door and tell your child they are not to wake up mommy and daddy. However, I’m not a fan of locking children in their own bedrooms.

Try your hardest to keep your 2-year old in their crib–you will appreciate it when you get a good night’s sleep.

With that out of the way…

How do you transition your toddler from a crib to a bed?

There’s no real secret. If they are ready, just try putting them in a toddler bed. They will probably do much better than you can imagine. They may even transition without an issue. Just make sure you tell them the “rule” is that they have to stay in bed. (This is where age comes into play. The older the child, the more capable they are of understanding and following “rules.”  In fact, they like rules as it brings order into their life.)

If the transition doesn’t start out smoothly, I do recommend this toddler traffic alarm clock. Toddlers can usually understand that red means stop and green means go. Just think about when you are driving in the car. How often do you hear, “It’s green, mommy–go!”?  So my point is they get the concept that they can’t get out of bed until the light turns green. I like this alarm clock better than some of the others out there because your child already knows the concept of the traffic light and they don’t have to try and learn a new concept.

As with anything involving young children, patience and persistence will be rewarded. Stick with it and don’t be afraid to take a break in the process if you need to!

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