Whether your little ones outgrown the crib, or you’ve got a serious climber on your hands, making the switch to a big kid bed is a transition you’ll want to prepare for to ensure bedtime doesn’t derail.
Here are my top 7 tips to consider when making the switch:
1. Start as late as you can: Firstly, if you are considering the switch and your child is under 3, and climbing is not a major issue of course, there is no need to rush. Part of making the switch to a big kid bed involves teaching your child to stay in bed and in their room for bedtime. Not really something a child under 3 will truly understand. Making the switch early can turn bedtime on its heels while you try to encourage your little one to remain in bed. If your child is staying in the crib, you may not want to mess with something that’s working and move them when they are ready for the big change.
2. Keep bedtime consistent: The best way to make the transition into a big kid bed, while also keeping the bedtime you desire, is to implement the same routine you had before. This routine is familiar, and while the bed has changed, the bedtime routine will offer a sense of comfort around the newness, and your child will welcome sleep more easily.
3. Make a big kid bedtime routine chart: A great way to manage those bedtime expectations is to put it in writing and get your child involved. You can create a new bedtime routine chart that goes along with the new bed. Lay out all the steps of the routine (with images since they can’t read) and allow your child to follow along with the steps and be more in control of getting ready for bed. Having the visual routine to follow, will reinforce rules and ensure a smooth bedtime.
4. Give control over some of the new big kid bed decisions (pillow, sheet design): Give your child ownership over some of the decisions for the new bed. Not only will this give them a sense of pride over their new space, but a sense of control over it as well. Toddlers need some of the power, if you have one, then you know. If they’ve been involved in the process, they will take comfort in the feeling of control and will be less inclined to fight you on bedtime.
5. Reinforce boundaries and stick to them: Much like with making the chart, explain to your child that the bedtime boundaries still apply. For example: Once our book and goodnights are done, it’s quiet time in bed OR Drinking water is at brush teeth time, not after. I suggest adding a rules section to the chart. Set them out from the start and continue to remind your child of them for the first few weeks that the new bed is here. They will soon become known and understood.
6. Ensure access to quiet bedtime activities: Leave some books or lovies on your child’s bedside, so as they try to get into sleep mode, they know they can do a quiet activity in their bed until sleep comes. This helps teach them to stay in their beds, and that quiet time before falling asleep is important too.
7. Meet bedtime needs: Your child will likely leave their bed (now that they can) and come to you with requests. Try to meet these needs during the bedtime routine, so the requests aren’t necessary. Like going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, one more hug…If these sound familiar, remind your child that they will now be part of bedtime, and put it on the chart.