Moving to a Toddler Bed… when, how and why

Moving to a toddler bed is a big step for your toddler. It is exciting and in an instance makes them seem so much older. This is what I remember thinking… all grown up!  Well, almost:)

When to make the move

Timing is everything when you take that rail off the crib. I suggest no earlier than 3 years old. The reason why… a 3 year old can remember the rules on staying in bed a lot better than a 2 year old. 

Have you read my blog on Toddlers and Boundaries? Read that and think about applying rules and consequences to a 2 vs 3 year old; it’s a world of difference. I always have felt that half birthdays are huge for cognitive development. A 2 year old, a 2.5 year old, a 3 year old are extremely different!

Ways to prep

You don’t want to make this such a big deal that we intimidate and make your toddler feel nervous. But it is a big step and we can make it fun. Take your toddler out and buy a new comforter or blanket, a pillow maybe if you don’t have one. These days going out isn’t as easy, or with little kids at all for that matter, so make the online delivery just as exciting. 

Okay to Wake Clock

I also highly recommend an okay to wake clock. The hatch or hatch+ is what I have and love. You can change the schedule and time the clock turns on via your cell phone. Making last minute changes very easy to do.

The okay to wake clock is a great tool to teach your toddler to stay in bed until the clock turns “green.” You obviously can choose any color you’d like if there are options. It also is a sound machine all in one and it’s not bad to travel with either so it can always be with you.

Show your child the night before how it works. Set the clock to change colors in a min or two so they can see how it changes. You can even role play this with them in bed waiting and put the clock where it will be all night long. Again, the rule is, you stay in bed quietly until the clock turns “green.” I want this sentence to be in your bedtime routine verbiage each and every night. 

Toddler or Twin bed?

As far as which bed to use, you can take the rail down to the crib, if yours does, or you can simply go straight to an adult twin or larger bed. If you are going to use a different bed, then try and place it similarly to where the crib was. Creating as little change as possible in location. I also suggest to use side rails so your child stays safe and in bed.

After your child has shown a good transition to a big kid bed, then of course in time you can change the room around if that is something you desire. For the first couple of months, the less change the better. A big kid bed is a big enough change at one time. 

When NOT to make the move

One popular time to make this move is when a sibling is on the way. I get it, you have one crib and you need it in 9months. But if your toddler is not yet 3 I would argue it is worth the money to buy a second crib rather than sacrificing sleep for one. Then you may be on your way to having 2 kiddos not sleeping. No one wants that. 

If you’re already having sleepless nights. That’s right, a toddler bed is not the way to make your child sleep through the night. There are reasons for this nighttime struggle and those reasons need to be addressed. I’d be happy to chat with you about it and see what we can do to help you fix those struggles so that you can make this transition more easily. Schedule a call with me. 

Honeymoon phase

If you made the move and it worked! You’re so happy, your toddler is now sleeping through the night, yeah! But I hate to say it, but it may not last. I hear all the time, “we made the move and it worked for a while but now we are back to where we started.”

This may not be the case for all kids, but if there were already sleep troubles, a toddler bed isn’t the way to fix it. All this does is allow your child to continue to not sleep but now open your door and join you in your room. 

Looking to go back?

If you already made the move, it’s possible that you can bring that crib back. It depends how long ago your toddler made this transition and also the age of your toddler. This is where you and I can make a plan together.

Recently I had begun working with a 22 month old who was in a toddler bed when mom initially reached out. I asked her to bring back the crib. She had only been in a toddler bed for a couple of months but more than that, this little girl wasn’t even 2 yet. 

It was the right move and the little girl started sleeping through the night the first week we started. It was definitely the right call. Now she can continue to establish a solid sleep foundation and make the move to the toddler bed a lot easier when she’s older. 

You are supported

Toddlers can be tough, especially if they are not sleeping well. I am here to help and support you. Like I said before, if you are currently struggling reach out, let’s chat. Schedule a call with me. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Be in control of bedtime again, it can change your life for the better!