You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Another New Milestone…the “Big Bed”!

If your little one has climbed out or attempted…it is time to transition to a “big bed”!  Climbing out of a crib can be a dangerous feat!

It must be the season…lots of toddlers heading to their new “big boy” or “big girl” beds.  I have had so many questions lately about how this transition should happen, and how do you keep them in their beds!  Just when you think you have this sleeping thing figured out, your child becomes a toddler!  Here are a few tips for transitioning to the “big bed”.

  1. Get excited about the move.  Talk about the “big bed”.  Transition all at once.  Do not nap in the “big bed” and use the crib at night…just do it.
  2. Keep the same bedtime and nap time routine.  Approach this transition as very matter of fact.  It is usually a bigger deal for Mom and Dad than the toddler!
  3. Make sure that your child’s room is safe.  You now do have to plan for your toddler to wander in his room.  Be sure that all heavy furniture is bolted to the wall, there are no cords and outlets that could be a temptation, windows are closed and locked, and you might think about keeping the toys to a minimum.  (they can be a big temptation, wouldn’t you rather play than sleep?)
  4. Side rails will be a parenting call.  I don’t love them.  If you have a toddler that has climbed out of a crib, then he certainly can climb over a side rail.  Keep one side of the bed against a wall and keep furniture away from the other side in case your child rolls out.  If your child falls out of bed, the fall is not far, he or she will be fine!  Some parents will put a “swimming noodle” under the fitted sheet to help prevent their child from rolling out of the bed.  Use of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals are all fine after your child is a year old.
  5. What is the perfect bed?  Many cribs convert to a toddler bed…that is fine.  Some parents are transitioning because number 2 is on the way.  No worries, a twin bed or even a full bed is fine or how about a mattress on the floor!
  6. Complete your bedtime routine; be excited about the new bed, tell your child to call you when he or she wakes up.  This may be all your child needs to hear!  Two of my children called “I am awake!” for quite awhile after the transition!  They never wandered out of bed!
  7. The first couple of nights you may have to sit next to the bed.  Keep your hand on your child, no eye contact, sit in the dark.  If your little one pops his or her head up, say one line “It is sleep time lay down.”, or something similar.  No long explanations, not a lot of attention.  A couple of nights later move your chair to the door.  Same response if the little head pops up.  Then move your chair to the hall and keep an eye on your child.  Same response if your child tries to get out of bed.  This should break the habit.
  8. Tell your child that you will “check on him” in a few minutes.  Knowing that you will peek back into the room will sometimes keep your child from getting up “looking” for you.
  9. Do some chores near your child’s room until he or she is asleep.  I used to fold clothes upstairs for a bit.  Hearing you nearby helps with the separation anxiety so many toddlers struggle with when going to bed.
  10. If your child does pitter patter down the hall, walk your child back to bed with no words except “It is sleep time stay in bed”.  Give no real attention, no anger.  If it takes 20 times, do it.  If you are consistent, the habit will be broken in about 3 nights.
  11. Give your child a couple of books or a special toy to bring to bed.  Tell your child to “read” and this may help him or her fall asleep.
  12. There is nothing wrong with gating your child’s door, but if your child tries to climb over the gate, it is a safety issue.  Do not lock your child in the room, that too is a safety issue.
  13. If your child is 2 or older, sometimes a sticker reward chart works well.  A sticker in the morning or after nap if your child stays in bed.  A reward of something fun that you will do with your child after a few days of stickers.

All these techniques will help your toddler learn to love his or her new “big bed”.  Consistency is the key, and soon you will have a bit of quiet time during nap and in the evening.  Your toddler learning to sleep on his or her own is an important life skill.  Don’t start any habits that you cannot live with for a long time (like laying down with your child in bed).  Every parent needs time to recharge and get a good night’s sleep without a toddler spread eagle in the middle of your bed!  The “big bed” another milestone!  For those of you who have transitioned…share your tips!  Happy sleeping!

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Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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