From Crib to Bed
So it’s time to move your sweet pea from her baby crib to her new toddler bed and you’re freaking out about how to manage the change. Let me reassure you that children are actually quite robust and resilient. In fact, it’s these little life struggles that help build up their ‘psychological muscle’ as they discover for themselves that they can cope and manage in the ever-expanding world.
When to move? My general child guidance rule is to continually foster his or her progress towards autonomy and mastery. The sooner they can go from bottle to cup, high chair to booster and likewise, crib to bed—the better.
If you have a new baby on the way, it’s recommended you take down the crib and have it out of sight for a time before moving it into the baby’s nursery (and perhaps changing up the bumper pads). If you can’t pull that off, no worries. Trust your older child to make the adjustment and learn to share, because there’s a lot more of that coming!
Ask your child to join you shopping so they can help pick their new bedding for the new bed. Often they’re so excited to sleep in the Spider-Man/princess sheets, they don’t mind passing down their old crib to the new baby.
How do you know when it’s time? If your tot is a real monkey and starts scaling the sides, you should make the move. Don’t risk a tumble over the top rail—simply keep the railing down so the crib becomes a day bed. Teach them to crawl in and out of it safely on their own.
Ah yes, now they’re not contained anymore. No need to panic. Install a baby gate at their bedroom doorway. This serves to enlarge the area they are contained in from their crib to their whole room. Make sure you’ve child-proofed the room before this step, however.
With the gate in place, you can tuck them in, say your good nights and if they crawl out of the crib and stand at their doorway calling for you, so be it. Treat it the same as if they were in their crib. They may fall asleep on the floor instead of their crib, but that will only be for a few nights while they discover this new limit. Once asleep, you can move them back to their bed or cover them with a blanket.
My daughter Lucy transitioned by keeping her crib mattress and sheets but dropped on the floor, futon style. For both my girls, there was a time when they had their new bed set up and old crib (side down) still in their room. I simply let them pick where they wanted to sleep. They both chose to start with naps in the bed (with a side attachment to stop them from rolling off onto the floor) but both preferred their cribs at night for awhile.
When the crib finally has to come down, talk about it together, mark it on the calendar a week in advance so they know the big day is coming, and make a fun event of disassembling it together.