Featuring The Holistic Sleep Edit + Written by Sleep Expert Jade
If you are currently thinking about moving your little one from their cot into a toddler bed, please read on! I'm here to help you decide when and how to make this change and to ensure it is as smooth sailing (and as fun!) as possible.
If you happen to have a pretty active toddler who is attempting to escape their crib, then it’s definitely the right time for you to go ahead. If this isn’t the case and you’re still wondering, you might want to read on.
Featured above is a toddler twin bed with Malabar Baby XL Bedding in Seminyak Pink. Toddler kids quilts are now made in XL Toddler Twin Size with an increase demand from families making the transition from cot to bed. Children like to be involved with choosing their bedding and often times the comfort of print and fabric from cot bed to "big boy/girl bed" is very appealing. The XL size fits most single twin, or even Full Size beds depending on how you fold it.
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO TRANSITION TO A TODDLER BED?
From personal and professional experience, I highly recommend waiting until at least 3 years of age. As soon as those barriers come down, their bedtime boundaries are essentially removed and it can cause a couple of issues which are easier to handle when they are a bit older.
They will most definitely take advantage of their new found freedom, no matter how old they are. As soon as you say goodnight and close the door, don’t be surprised if they are right there behind you with a big cheeky smile on their face. You will need to calmly take them back to bed, say goodnight and repeat and this can go on for quite some time (Jack in the box effect).
This is a far easier battle to manage when they are older as they can be reasoned with more effectively and will respond to a reward system that I encourage my clients to implement through this process. Any child under the age of 2.5 will find this more difficult to process and as a result you may be setting yourself up for some sleepless nights and battles at bed time. The cot also provides a safe and secure space for your baby. Moving them in to a bed too soon can leave your little one feeling insecure, so again the older the child the better.
AVOID CHANGING INTO A TODDLER BED IF…
Your baby still requires your support at bed time and through the night in order to fall asleep.
This is probably the most important point to consider when taking the crib away. If your baby is unable to fall asleep on their own at bed time, or they wake frequently in the night requiring your support to resettle them, I strongly advise that you work on resolving their sleep issues in the cot first.
Even the best of sleepers will conjure up some new challenges when they move into a bed, so please don’t assume that your problems will suddenly go away with a nice new bed. Sadly, the novelty factor alone is not enough to encourage a good night’s sleep and it most likely will make the sleep issues much much worse.
A new baby is on the way!
It’s quite common for parents to move their eldest into a bed in order to free up the cot for baby number two. I would avoid this if they are under 3 years of age! Bringing a new baby into the world is exhausting in its own right, so its best to avoid making any big changes for your toddler at this point.
Instead I would advise purchasing a piece of furniture that starts as a crib and can extend to a toddler bed if possible. If this isn’t an option, I would make the transition at least 4 months before your new baby arrives so that you have ample time to address any issues that may pop up.
IT’S THE RIGHT TIME! HOW DO I DO THIS?
Once you have decided that it is the right time for your toddler, you may wish to follow this FIVE STEP PLAN to implement the change as seamlessly as possible.
1. Have lots of positive chats about what’s going to happen so that they are not only aware of the upcoming challenges but also they can get excited for the change.
2. Safety proof their bedroom. You need to be confident that their room and the home is a safe space for them in the event that they get out of bed in the night when everyone else is asleep. I recommend installing a baby gate on their bedroom door if you are worried about them roaming around the house on their own at night.
3. Make this fun for them and let them choose their new bed and bedding so that they want to jump straight in! I am in love with all of the options that Malabar Baby have to offer. Their designs are absolutely stunning and the materials used are perfect for tropical climates. You can find the selection at Lane Crawford or www.malabarbaby.com
Malabar Baby quilts, blankets and swaddles are 100% cotton lightweight. Hence, they don't cause overheating, making them a popular choice for families living in tropical climates. Featured above is the Seminyak Pink Crib Quilt.
4. Prepare yourself for the “jack-in-the-box.” Effect.
Your toddler WILL try to get out of his new bed. And that’s understandable — the sudden freedom is bound to go right to his head! So be prepared for it. When your toddler (inevitably) wanders out of bed, quickly put him right back into it. It’s a good idea to make it an emotionless interaction — too much positive or negative reaction on your part will likely serve to make the jack-in-the-box behaviour worse. But if your toddler can’t get a rise out of you, he’s likely to quit the behaviour faster. You need to consistently respond in the same way, so make sure all carers involved are on the same page. It may be a couple of weeks before things calm down, but stick with it and matters will calm down.
5. Use a reward system to really reinforce positive steps. I would go over board on this and really keep the rewards coming as frequently as possible so that they remain motivated. Keep the achievements realistic, for instance:
- 1 star for a lovely bed time routine and staying in bed for story time
- 1 star for staying in bed nicely at bed time when its lights out
- 2 stars for sleeping through the night without getting out of bed
I would make the rewards very achievable so that they have something each morning to look forward to. For instance if they achieve 1 star, they receive a small toy. If they get 2 stars they can receive a slightly larger toy. If they receive 4 stars + they can have a bigger reward such as an outing to their favourite park, or an ice cream (something that you know they love). Make sure to remind them of what the goals and rewards are really frequently. Once you have overcome the sleep challenges, you can slowly phase out the rewards. I have done this successfully with both of my children, and I also used the same reward system for potty training.
I hope these ideas help you towards a full nights sleep for the whole family. Happy sleeping everyone….