Just when you thought you had this sleeping thing cracked, along comes another spanner in the works! Moving a good sleeper from their crib to a ‘big bed’ can be a very big deal for lots of families, and sometimes the transition isn’t as easy as you might think. It’s worth being prepared, which is why we’ve put together a brief guide to help you!
Whatever your child’s history with sleeping, there will come a time when the crib is no longer suitable for night time slumber. You will know when this time has come because there are three main signs:
- Age- generally, children are ready to move from a crib to a bed from the age of 18 months. Some children may not be ready until they are three years old though, so keep this in mind.
- Size- most cribs are not intended for children over a certain height or weight. You may find that your little one is running out of space!
- Physical capabilities- your little one may already be trying- and perhaps succeeding!- to climb out of the crib. If this is the case, moving to a bed could be a lot safer.
If you think your child is ready for the move, you may want to consider a few factors before you get started.
Safety. If your child is very young, it might not be safe for him to be able to get out of bed and wander around the house at night time. If you’re concerned that this could happen, a longer transition may be needed. Start by lowering the mattress first so that the bars are higher and climbing out is not possible. If you do decide to go straight for the bed, make sure there are stair gates fitted to avoid stumbles in the dark.
Timing. If your family is in the middle of any kind of upheaval, disrupting the night time sleep with a new bed may not be the best idea. Anything from a new baby to the time of year (birthdays or Christmas, etc) can disturb sleep anyway, so swapping beds might cause undue stress. Wait until the calendar is a little clearer and you may find the transition a lot smoother.
Positioning. Your child’s new bed may not fit where the crib always stood. Or the space you have is too small, too close to a window or too far from the door. Think about where you’re going to put the bed and make sure you measure up! As ever, ensure that there are no hanging objects over the bed and that curtain ties etc are well out of reach. Your child will be a lot more ‘active’ in the room now, so furniture needs to be secured too.
So you’re sure that your child is ready, and you’ve considered all of the above. You’re ready to make the move… but how? Ultimately, only you will know the best way to introduce the idea of sleeping in a big bed, as you are the parent and you know your child best. However, here are some tried and tested tips to help you decide the path to take:
- Involve your child in the transition as much as you can. Take your little one shopping with you to help choose the bed, or at least the bedding. Invest in some covers with their favourite characters on them so that they are excited about their new bed. Make it as appealing as you can!
- Make sure your child knows how grown up they are! Kids love to be told that they are no longer babies, and moving to a bed is a huge step in their little lives. Make sure they know that this is a sure sign that they are growing up.
- Try to position the bed as close to the same spot as the crib. If this isn’t possible, talk to your child about the new bed and where it will go. Make sure they are happy with the new location before you make any changes. If you can, do this one or two weeks before the bed arrives so that it comes as no surprise.
- Adelina, a mum of two, says that she used bed rails when her little ones made the move into big beds. These are great for helping children feel secure in their beds, and also for helping ease parent’s minds too.
- Keep favourite blankets and teddies. Your little one still needs their familiar comforts and by having them in their new bed, they will feel reassured at bedtime.
Once you’ve made the move and the crib has gone, you may find that the new bed takes a little getting used to- for you, and them! Agree some rules about getting out of bed and help your child to understand why we don’t get out unless we really need to. Adelina says that she adjusted her bedtime routine so that stories were read whilst her little ones were already tucked up. Once the lights went out, Adelina would promise to check on the children, giving them no reason to need to get out of bed. Her tip is to go back in after two minutes, then after another five and then after another ten, and so on. Eventually her little ones drifted to sleep and getting out of bed was no issue at all.
If your child is really unhappy with the new sleeping arrangements, you will need to have a lot patience. Try extending bed time a little (starting earlier) so that you can spend more time reading stories and talking to your child before lights out. Try to listen to their concerns, address them as best you can, and reiterate that you are right there if you are needed. If your child does become very distressed, you might need to think about bringing the crib back and trying again at a later date. If you do this, make sure your child does not feel that this is a ‘backward’ step or a punishment for not sleeping well in the new bed. The transition from crib to bed is huge and for some children it is a lot to deal with. Now and then we parents get our timings wrong, despite the best intentions, so don’t dwell on it if it’s all too much.
If you’re planning on making the move from crib to bed, I hope these tips help- do let us know how you get on!