Friday, May 20, 2011

Tranistioning to a Toddler Bed

We made the switch when Natalie was 18 months old. This is a bit early for most families, but we wanted to switch well before our new baby arrives. If we didn't have another baby on the way, or had another crib available to us, we won't have switched now either. Most reasons people make the change are: the child trying to climb out of the crib (at 35 or 36 inches tall, your child can climb out even if he hasn't tried to), potty training, the crib is no longer comfortable, or a new baby. If you are switching so that a new baby in the house can have the crib, its recommended to make the change 6 weeks to 3 months in advanced (different sources say different times). Also, leave the crib disassembled and out of the way for the duration of that time; don't move it straight into the new baby's room.

I feel like most of the reason switching Natalie to a toddler bed was easy was because she is an easy going kid. But, here is what we did:

  • We decided to go with a toddler bed because it was not only cheaper (no new mattress and less money because its smaller), but she could get in and out of it on her own with less change of falling. Also, a toddler bed is the same size she was used to, so there was no big spaces to be afraid of. Lastly, the model we bought has rails built in up by the head of the bed, which made it harder for her to fall out and feel more like her crib.
  • Long before we planned to switch, I pointed out pictures in books of kids in their big kid beds. I mostly just said, "Oh, look at Abby in her big girl bed!"
  • We got a set of toddler sheets that we knew she would love. For Natalie, that was Kai-lan sheets.
  • A few days before the switch, I showed her the picture of the sheets from the package and asked her if she wanted to sleep in that bed. Also, while we were away, Mike sent us a photo of her new bed, and I let her see it on the computer, again asking if she liked it. So, she'd seen the way it would look in a picture before she saw the real thing.
  • We made the switch when she was not home to watch and get confused. In fact, her bed was waiting for her after she'd been away for two nights with me at my parents. This might have helped that she didn't go from her crib at nap to a new bed at bed time.
  • We put the bed where her crib used to be, but we left her crib in her room moved out of the way. This is recommended so that the way the room looks from in bed is the same.
  • All her same stuffed animals moved on to the foot of her bed.
  • She wasn't used to a pillow or blankets, so we helped her move up onto the pillow, but left the comforter tucked in.
  • We made the change at a time when nothing else was going on. No sickness or teething. No visitors or long trips. No other big changes in the house or routine.
  • We actually moved to the bed earlier than planned because Natalie showed interest in beds. She liked joining us on our bed and asked to play on beds at the store. But what really made us move it up was when we put the mattress on the floor to change the sheets, she was very interested in walking on it and playing "night night."
  • We got a toddler bed that looks similar to her crib. Its the same color finish and has similar slats.
  • Any other changes we had to make to her bed time routine, we gradually made the week or so before, such as moving the changing table out of her room and putting on pjs and reading stories on the floor versus the big bed we moved out of her room.
  • We had a very strong bed time routine in place. For months our routine has been pretty much the same every night, so even with the bed different, everything else was the same.
  • We let her see and play with her bed hours before it was time to sleep in it.
  • We reacted to the bed with enthusiasm.
  • She did fall out once the first night. We were listening for any kind of problem and responded quickly. She never woke up fully and went right back to sleep because my husband got to her so quickly and got her right back in bed.
  • When at the start of a nap she climbed down and ran off, I didn't get angry with her. Because she always naps at the same time, it took only a little persuasion to get her back in her room and on the bed. Most of the time, she will climb up on her own. I make sure to exit her room quickly instead of watching to see if she will get down. When left on the bed with her lovey at nap time, she will lay down and go to sleep because she is tired. In the month we've had the bed, we've only had one cry-it-out nap so far, and she still stayed on the bed.

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