Easing the Transition
Once you've made up your mind that the time is right, you'll have to decide what type of bed your child will be comfortable in. Some parents of young toddlers simply put their child's crib mattresses on the floor for a while to ease the transition, says Dr. High. Others buy a twin mattress and put it on the floor or set it atop box springs. Some parents spring for a toddler bed, which is generally low to the ground and can accommodate an existing crib mattress. They often come in the form of cars, castles, or other appealing shapes. Toddler beds are fine, says Dr. Widome, but they're not safety necessities. You can always install a removable guardrail on a twin bed to keep your toddler from falling out of it.
Whichever bed your choose, let your child help pick out kid-friendly sheets, pillowcases, and comforters, and personalize the space with her favorite stuffed animals. Once the bed is home and in your child's room, however, don't be surprised if your little one doesn't want to sleep in it. It might be necessary to actually remove the crib from your child's room when the new bed arrives. It can be stressful for a toddler to have to choose between sleeping in her crib (and wanting to be a baby) and sleeping in her bed (and wanting to be a kid). If you relieve a child from making that choice, says Dr. Widome, it makes it easier for everyone. Plus, when the crib is out of sight, it's usually out of mind.
Finally, as in any time of transition, it helps to establish and follow a predictable bedtime routine, says Dr. High. This routine -- which can involve reading a story, talking about your child's day, or praying -- should be a soothing experience for both of you and leave your child looking forward to going to bed. A consistent bedtime ritual should also help a young child to feel grounded. Toddlers are often ambivalent about growing up and leaving their babyhood behind, and for this reason, change can be hard for them, says Dr. Widome. But once they master a new skill, whether it's giving up diapers or a bottle or moving from a crib to a bed, they have a real sense of pride and accomplishment.
So whether your child takes to his new bed right away or needs some time to warm up to it, know that he's taking an important step forward in his development and toward becoming a fun and independent "big kid."
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.