Every child handles change differently. For some, things that seem very small are actually huge. Other kids don’t seem to be bothered when something changes around them. So when it comes time to transition from a crib to a bed, it can be very easy - or quite a challenge.
When we got my eldest son a new “big boy” bed, he didn’t treat bedtime any different than he had with a crib. We completely lucked out. However, a few of my other kids did not transition as well. Here’s what I found worked for us:
1. Don’t change anything about the normal routine. Keep bedtime the same as it was. Follow the same routines like bath, pjs, stories – whatever you always do. If you don’t treat the new bed as anything different – that will be a cue for them.
2. Try not to let them in on the fact that they’re free. Do your best to avoid bringing any attention to the fact that they can easily slip out of bed and come running to find you. Avoid saying things like, “I know it’s easy to get out of bed, but you really shouldn’t”.
3. Make a comparison. Children often love the ‘big kids’. Try telling your child that they have a big kid bed and are growing up – just like their older brother or sister, cousin or friend. Kids will always look up to someone, and it helps to reference them and encourage your child to be a big kid too.
4. Avoid buying all new stuff. New “fancy” blankets are nice – and will be necessary. But keeping some of the old bedding from the crib will give them a nice secure feeling!
5. Keep toys out of reach. It’s a good idea to ensure that toys, electronics, diapers, etc. aren’t within their reach. If these things are easily accessible, they will be up all night playing.
6. Close the door. Keeping the door closed discourages running in and out of their room as if it’s a game.
7. If they’re having a really hard time, stay with them. Try sitting with them in their room but move closer to the door each evening. Or you could try saying “I’m just going to get a glass of water”, leave them for a bit and go back and check on them if they need it. You’ll eventually progress to the point where you can leave, check on them and leave again for the night once they’re asleep or almost asleep. Those who can’t handle change very well may have a tough time at first, but ensuring that you’re there to help them will give them a sense of comfort.
The transition from a crib to a bed is much like any other transition in your child’s life. From a bottle to a cup, from diapers to underwear, children go through many changes in a short period of time. The key to success is stay consistent.
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