Many have this idea that the transition from crib to toddler bed should happen earlier than it actually should. The most common statement I hear is, “Well she wasn’t sleeping in the crib so we thought that transitioning her to a toddler bed would help.”or “she climbed the crib so we thought we had to make the transition.”. Making this transition too early usually does not help and results in a toddler on the loose and exhausted parents! Today I want to clear things by answering two important questions: First, “When do you make the transition from crib to toddler bed?”, and second, “What do you do if you toddler climbs the crib before the recommended age for the transition?”.
When do we Make the Transition From Crib to Toddler bed?:
The ideal time to make this transition is between the age of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years old. Why? At this age your child is able to understand the concept of “stay in bed”. A toddler that is 2 years old or younger has a very hard time understanding that concept and should not be expected to understand it. They are just not ready. It’s not impossible, but it is very difficult. If able, wait to make the transition until your child is between the ages recommended. Waiting until this age range will help the transition go smoothly, because your child has developed mentally to understand concepts such as these at this point in their life. Also take into account your child’s temperament and maturely level. Just because your toddler turns 2.5 years old and sleeps great in their crib doesn’t mean you need to transition. Every child is different and the transition should be approached when you feel your child is mentally, emotional and physically ready. If your child struggles to sleep and is younger than the recommended age for the transition, making the transition WILL NOT help them sleep better. If anything, it will open their mind to the idea that they do not have boundaries at bedtime and can freely roam their room and or the house at night time which will promote them to avoid sleep. Wait for the right time/age that works best for your family and child.
What if my Baby is not Between 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Years old and is Climbing the Crib?:
Uh-oh, your 2 year old just climbed the crib. What now?, Do you make the transition?, This must mean they are ready for the transition, right? My answer: No! Just because your toddler has climbed the crib does not mean they are ready, it just means they are curious. Instead, let’s do everything we can to manipulate the crib so that baby can’t climb out and can focus on getting a good nights rest. That way we can keep that boundary of the crib in place until the appropriate age for the transition and also keep your baby safe. Here are some ways you can manipulate their sleeping environment to keep them in the crib until the appropriate age:
-If your baby has crib bumpers take them off.
-Make sure there is nothing around the crib that your baby could pull on to try to get out of the crib.
-Drop the mattress as far as it can go.
-If dropping the mattress to it’s lowest setting does not fix the problem, drop the mattress all the way to the floor.
-If you have a crib with a high back and low front, turn the crib around and place the crib into a corner so that only one side of the crib is low.
-Put your toddler in a sleep sack. This keeps them from hiking their leg up and climbing the crib bars.
The big take away today is that waiting the appropriate age for this transition is very important in making it smooth and seamless. Just because your toddler is not sleeping well or decides that he wants to climb the crib does not mean they are ready for the transition to a toddler bed. Use the crib as long as possible! It keeps your baby safe and creates a boundary so they can focus on getting a full nights rest.