Toddler Bed

The Toddler Bed: When a Child is Ready

Making the transition from a crib to a toddler bed is often hard on both parents and children. gives you the best care product for your child.  If a toddler might be ready to leave the crib or Mom and Dad’s bed, parents may want to consider taking the following steps:

  • Be sure the toddler is ready for a bed;
  • Introduce the idea of the toddler bed;
  • Ensure the toddler bed is safe; and
  • Help the toddler stay in bed.

Be Sure the Toddler is Ready for a Bed

The first step in making the transition from a crib to a toddler bed is to know when the time is right. Generally, parents may decide to introduce the toddler bed anywhere from 18 months to 3½ years.

In her book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (Atria Books, 2005), child expert Tracy Hogg says it is time for a toddler bed if: a new child is on the way and the crib is needed; if a child is able to climb out of the crib on his or her own; or if he or she has physically outgrown the crib

Children who are used to co-sleeping with parents may need to skip over the crib entirely. Hogg recommends toddlers who aren’t accustomed to sleeping in the crib make the transition from Mom and Dad’s bed directly to a toddler bed.

If the child is in the midst of another major change, i.e. toilet training, becoming a big sister or brother or moving into a new house, it is best to hold off on the switch to a toddler bed until he or she has adjusted to the other change.

Introduce the Idea of the Toddler Bed

Once it has been established that a toddler is ready to make the crib to bed switch, Mom or Dad should gently introduce the idea to the child. There are several helpful ways to do this.

“Talk about the transition and involve your child in the process,” says Hogg.

Taking the child shopping and having him or her pick out sheets with a favorite cartoon character may help ease the transition to a toddler bed. A child may also like the idea of a theme bed, for example a racecar bed or a princess canopy bed. Other parents might choose to surprise the child with the new bed, taking care to make a big deal of this special new gift.

There are many books that will help the child understand this big change. A common favorite is Sesame Street’s Big Enough for a Bed (Random House, 2002), which features Elmo making the switch to his own bed; the familiar character will help a child understand that eventually everyone sleeps in their own bed. It’s Time to Sleep in Your Own Bed (New Harbinger Publications, 2008), by child psychologist Lawrence E. Shapiro, will help smooth the transition to a toddler bed (particularly for co-sleeping children) and also includes helpful advice for parents.

Ensure the Toddler Bed is Safe

Safety is always a concern for parents helping children adjust to a toddler bed. Make sure all outlets are covered, lower drawers have locks, and wires are out of reach. Many parents start out with just a mattress on the floor so that children don’t have far to fall if they roll off the bed. Purchase a bed with guard rails and no box spring, and place it against the wall. Put up a sturdy gate to keep the child from wandering about the house (as well as keep from visiting Mom and Dad’s bed late at night).

Help the Toddler Stay in Bed

Once a child is ready to begin sleeping in a toddler bed, parents must take steps to keep the child sleeping in his or her new bed.

According to Hogg, bedtime rules should not be changed when making the transition to a toddler bed. Maintaining consistency is key during this process.

Board Certified Pediatrician Dr. James M. Sears feels that positive reinforcement will help in getting a child used to the toddler bed. In transitioning his own children, he created a “star chart,” wherein a child would receive a star for staying in the toddler bed all night and thus earn a prize after receiving the third star. Dr. Sears says he likes this approach because “children develop a positive attitude about sleep, they are not forced into anything they are not ready for.”

If parents feel their child is at the right age to consider a switch from the crib or Mom and Dad’s bed to a toddler bed, the previous steps will help them decide whether the toddler is ready, and if so, will help prepare everyone for the big switch.

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