24-Month-Old Toddler Development: Toddler Beds
It's possible your toddler's been scaling the side of his crib, dangling for dear life like some Cirque du Soleil performer for months now, and you're thinking it's high time for a big-kid bed. Even if he's still quite content "behind bars" for now, one day soon he'll outgrow his crib and you'll want to make the transition as smooth as possible ... for him and for YOU! What you're thinking: "Next thing you know he'll be driving a car. Sniff!"
- Most kids make the move to a toddler bed anywhere between 1½ and 3½ years old. Either way, it's a good idea to transition your kid by the time he's 35 inches tall or is so beefy he's hitting the sides of the crib as he sleeps. Some kids handle the change without a hitch while others have a tougher time giving up their cribs. Here are a few tips to make the transition a little less stressful on your little guy.
- Before you buy a big-kid bed, you need to decide if you want to get a toddler bed (a low-to-the-ground, small bed that usually uses a crib mattress) or a twin bed with a bedrail. You can also just put your kid's crib mattress or a futon on the floor. Whatever you decide, put the new bed in the same place you had the crib. And don't rush to take the crib down just in case your little experiment doesn't fly and Junior demands to move back in to his former digs.
- Get your kid excited about his new bed by asking him to help you pick it out. Take him shopping and let him choose fun new sheets with his fave characters on them or a special treat for his room to make the crib-to-bed transition easier.
- If you move your kid from crib to toddler bed and he refuses to stay put, try to nip his nocturnal wanderings in the bud. Close his bedroom door, put up a baby gate or if all else fails, be prepared to play night watchman for a few nights. Sit outside his room and every time he strolls on out, pick him up and put him back in bed. If you give it a few days and he refuses to stay put or is incredibly upset by the move, you might have to try going back to the crib for a little while. It may be a sign he isn't ready to make the move.
- Finally, don't force the switch to the big-kid bed if the timing isn't right, such as when your kid is dealing with other major transitions, like adjusting to a new sibling, a new house or a new day care. If you need the crib for a new baby, move your toddler out at least eight weeks before or three to four months after the bundle of screaming joy arrives to give your toddler a few weeks to forget that it was his territory before the baby takes it over, or you'll risk a turf war.
- "Once he graduated to a toddler bed, we knew it'd be best for our son to be able to fall asleep by himself. In all honesty, it was harder for us to adjust than for him. I remember whenever he would sleep in the crib and not with us: Sebastian was happy and comfortable, but I was the one that was wide awake, listening for any little peep, and feeling lonely in the bed, even with my husband."
Read more of "Graduating to the Big-Kid Bed" by Actress Kim Fields
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All kids grow and develop at different rates. So please don't compare your toddler with so-and-so's from across the street—you'll just drive yourself nuts. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your pediatrician at your kid's next checkup.