Dear Sleep Deprived Mama,
I see you over there looking at Target’s new fall line of bedding and pillows. You’re so excited to move your child from a crib to a big kid bed. And I understand! It’s exciting! Maybe you see your friends making the move, or you’re getting ready for Baby #2. But can I let you in on a secret that might save you sleepless nights?
Moving to a big kid bed has a right time and place.
If you make the transition too soon, you’ll be in for some growing pains. It’s my job to help you avoid pain in sleep!
My oldest daughter’s third birthday was starting to loom on the horizon, and I realized a big change was coming: THE BIG GIRL BED! Our days of crib snoozing could have easily kept riding strong into her fourth birthday, but our upcoming vacation had to end the ride.
She had outgrown her Pack-N-Play. Transporting the crib was not an option. No alternatives existed at our vacation rental other than a normal bed. So, we decided to transition out of the crib sooner than her September birthday to get her acclimated to the freedom of a big bed and allow her to sleep well on our upcoming trip.
She did beautifully! Here is how we did it
My Three “BIG” Points
1. A BIG Step (Baby Steps Don’t Apply)
Skip the toddler bed. Why?
BIG CHANGE = BIG RESULTS. small change = small results.
Gradually transitioning to a toddler bed doesn’t fully communicate a message of change. Said another way, it’s too similar to the crib. Children often respond to new expectations in moments of BIG change. Too many similar elements can be confusing and leave your child wondering what’s really going on.
Consider moving straight to a TWIN or FULL bed immediately. It will be more comfortable for your child, save money, and establish life-long habits from the start.
If not, be prepared to make another change in just a year or two.
2. A BIG Opportunity (No Turning Back)
Making the change to a big bed is EXCITING! Get your child involved in the entire process. The more responsibility they have, the more ownership they’ll feel.
Have them help choose the sheets, comforter, and pillowcases. Let them help unwrap the bed when it arrives and safely ‘help’ assemble it (even if just pretend).
These ideas will only help in promoting a desire to STAY in the bed, love it, and become more familiar with it.
And in case it needs to be said…make sure the crib completely disappears!
3. BIG Feelings
It’s all about big POSITIVITY!
Say phrases like: “Wow! What a big, cozy bed you have!” Role play with your child before bedtime routine even begins: “Can you show me what it looks like to lay in your big bed? Can you show me how to close your eyes in your bed?”
Practicing breaks the awkward newness this bed can bring. Remember that this is his/her bed. Ask before entering, and respect his/her wishes if they don’t want you to get in bed with them. (I had visions of snuggling and reading books in her bed, but she definitely wanted it all to herself!) No matter what, always make it a big, positive experience.
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant