Hi there, my name is Chloe and I am a certified pediatric sleep consultant and the owner and founder of La Lune Consulting. I coach parents of little ones age 0-5 on the importance of independent sleep and how to achieve peaceful, consolidated nights and naps. A large portion of my clients are families making the transition from a crib to a toddler bed. Working with toddlers is a whole different ball game than working with babies, as they can now talk, walk, and get out of bed, making this transition for a lot of parents a difficult one. However, it doesn’t have to be. I work with families to make it easy, and pain-free (for everyone involved).
To help you with this journey, I have put together a guide below to transitioning to a big kid bed, explaining the why, when, and how to do it.
How to know when your toddler is ready to make the transition to a kids bed
Let your child tell you! The best way to know is to decide when it is no longer safe for your little to be in his/her crib. Every baby/child is different, for some families that’s at 2 years old and for other it’s not until 4 years old. At some point most kiddos start climbing out of their crib, making it unsafe for them to be in it while sleeping unsupervised.
Why it’s important to childproof your toddler’s room
My goal when working with clients is to get their toddler to stay in bed throughout every nap and all night long. However, as they are learning they are likely going to get up. Now that they have free-reign of the room, it is extremely important to make sure it is safe. This includes, securing furniture to the wall, putting bumpers or rails on your child’s bed so they cannot roll off, keeping small toys that could be swallowed out of reach or out of the room altogether. Make sure you do all of your safety research before introducing a toddler bed.
How your toddler may handle the transition
Change is hard, especially for little ones. They get very comfortable with their current environment and are not always keen on things shifting. However, you know as a parent that it is your job to do what is best for them. To get your child quickly adapted to the new normal, keep things extremely consistent. Implement solid, soothing bedtime and naptime routines and stick to them. While I can’t give you an exact estimate as to how long it will take your child to adapt, I can tell you that things will be a lot easier and go a lot quicker if you are 100% consistent.
Getting your child excited and prepared for a kids bed
In order to make the transition smoother and happier, it’s important that you prepare your child for what is going to happen. Talk a lot about the transition and that they will no longer be sleeping in their crib, let them choose the sheets, where it goes in the room, and any other choices within reason as they relate to the bed. Do not give your child full control, but giving them little choices along the way can help them get excited and feel as though they had some part of the decision once the bed is actually there. For example, you choose a couple of patterns/colors of sheets and let your child make the final decision on which one they like better.
Why closing the door at bedtime is important
When working with a toddler who is making a transition to a toddler bed, I recommend to my clients to close the door and use a child-proof door knob. This is not done to be mean or as a punishment, it is done to keep control over the situation. When the child is able to freely get out of bed and walk out of their room, they will do so, and will likely protest going back in intensely, putting you a step back in the routine every time. Additionally and more importantly, it is about keeping them safe. If they are able to come in and out of their room as they please, they may get up in the middle of the night and roam the house. If they are confined to their childproofed room, there is less possibility of them getting hurt.
Why a toddler clock will become your (and your child’s) new best friend
A toddler clock is a fantastic tool when it comes to bedtimes and early morning wake-ups. They are fun for kids and make the rules less personal as it is the clock that decides when they can get up rather than the parent. You can set the clock to change colors when it is sleeping time versus awake time. For example, a stoplight toddler clock shows a red light when it’s sleeping time and a green light when it’s time to get up. This allows the toddler to understand when it’s time to be in bed and when it is time to be awake for the day.
When & why to get extra cuddles and one-on-one time
A lot of parents are hesitant to sleep train because they worry it means less snuggle time. However, I actually instruct clients to fit more cuddles in while sleep training so that the child does not lack those yummy, loving moments. I recommend parents get lots of hugs, kisses, cuddles, and one-on-one playtime during awake hours. If you would like to cuddle before bed and nap, I recommend you read a book or tell a story at the same time so that your child understands it as an interactive time, not a sleeping time.
How monster spraying your kids bed can make fears disappear
Before I dive into what monster spray is, I want to get really clear on when to bring it into the equation. Do not mention monsters or fears of the dark, etc. until your child expresses it on his/her own. This is extremely important. Not all children have these fears, actually if not prompted to think that the dark is scary or that monsters lurk under their bed, many don’t even think about it. If your child does bring up feeling afraid, you can create “monster spray”. Get an empty spray bottle, fill it with water, and label/decorate the outside. Tell your child to spray it anywhere they believe monsters are in their room before naps and bedtime, while explaining that this special spray makes them disappear.
Why your choice in kids mattress makes a difference
Once you believe your little one is ready, choosing a toddler bed is one of the first and hardest choices to make. I recommend the 5 Little Monkeys Sleep System to all of my clients. I have yet to find another mattress company that designs mattresses specifically with little one’s growing bodies in mind. They are waterproof and free of harmful chemicals to ensure it is safe and will last. I love the temperature-regulating technology as kiddos generally start out the night warm and wake up cold. This puts many parents at ease that worry about their littles getting too hot or too cold overnight.
Furthermore, as discussed above, the crib to toddler bed transition should be exciting and fun for your child. 5 Little Monkeys has thought of every detail to make that transition easier and more positive. As soon as the box arrives, kids know it’s for them. The font and images of little monkeys are all kid-focused. The box has a cut-out door so that your child can make a play-fort out of it while they wait for the mattress to unroll (let’s be real, we all know kids end up playing with the box more than whatever came in it). Finally, every order comes with a stuffed monkey. Stuffed animals and lovies are a very healthy sleep association for toddlers as they can help them feel safe and supported while they fall asleep, rather than needing mom or dad.
If after using your 5 Little Monkeys mattress, and implementing the tips and tricks above, you are still having trouble, do not hesitate to reach out to me through my website, www.laluneconsulting.com. Wishing you the best of luck in making this exciting transition. Stay snoozin!