Many say the right time to transition a child from crib to bed is when they are trying to climb out, so that you keep them safe. Others need to move out of the crib for a second child coming. Whatever your reason, make sure you pay attention to your child's cues and needs, make sure it works for both of you and that you do it slowly, with patience and encouragement.
First step: take photos of your big baby in her crib before she's out of it! I am so glad I have these pictures, and she was right on cue with sucking her thumb and holding onto her baby stuffies... melts my heart.
Let them help with the process. Talk about it ahead of time. Ask how they feel about a bigger bed.
Our crib has a side that comes off, so we first started with this when our daughter turned 3 years old. She held the tools for Dad to work.
She got to make her bed with the new blanket and sheets she received for her birthday party. She was so excited about this process! We let her put whatever stuffed animals she wanted in her bed also, to help her feel comfortable.
She made her bed like this... so cute! So grown up!
She was SO excited and proud of herself, wanting this big girl bed.
But it didn't go so well the first time around... This was in April, a few weeks after her third birthday. She initiated moving to the big bed, so we listened... She wanted to be in a big bed like her brother. She was adamant about it. But for some reason she was not ready. She got out of her bed 30+ times the first 3 nights. It was awful. We returned her to bed over and over, like I'd seen on Super Nanny show a zillion times before, not talking, etc. It didn't work.
One night I was crying, not sure how to keep her in her bed... I'd lay on the floor next to her, laid in her bed, sat at the doorway, sat outside the door, etc. nothing was working. My husband was about to leave for a two week trip to work and I knew I could not do this alone but said we'd keep trying... he didn't think that was right. That night he put the crib railing back on and our daughter slept soundly, happily in her crib. She didn't get upset or say a word about not having a big bed.
I sobbed! I thought we'd done the wrong thing putting the railing back on, making her feel like she wasn't a big girl. My husband said trust that this is going to work. And he was right....
Fast forward a few months, we waited until about June/July to transition her again into her big girl bed. We bought her a Batman blanket - her request, so cute! - and told her she'd earn it if she could stay in her bed all night long and wait until we come in the morning. We put the gate on her door so she'd stay there. She was EXCITED and a little older by a few months, somehow it just clicked. She stayed in this toddler bed better than in her crib without the railing. She told us she wanted this toddler bed because it was her brother's old bed and she wanted to be like him. Well, that worked!
A few months later we got her this big twin bed, which she LOVES! She slept in this one no problem whatsoever! She was just ready. This is what she's taught us all along, when she's ready to do something, she will, we just have to be patient with her and encourage it, but then back off, and wait for her to take to take the lead.
I don't think you need to transition from crib without railing to toddler bed to twin, not at all... that's just what we had in our house and it worked so we went with it! Whatever works for you. Many moms ask this question all the time - toddler bed or straight to twin or double bed? I don' think there's a right answer. I'd just say that make sure you have a side railing if it's a bigger bed, as they aren't sure how to stay in one place at first in the twin bed so they may fall out. We're glad we have the railing, as we found our daughter all turned around the first few weeks.
Tips from moms in the Mommy Stories Facebook group:
- Don't feel rushed or pressured into moving your child into a bigger bed. Many kids don't need to move past 3 years old, and that's OK.
- Stay consistent with bringing them back into their bed.
- Set the expectations ahead of time.
- Practice staying in the bed during the day time - pretend to sleep or put babies to sleep!
- Talk about it for weeks ahead of time so they are prepared for the change.
- Don't do this at the same time as a new sibling around or potty training or some other big transition time.
- Make sure they know how to fall asleep on their own ahead of the change to big kid bed.
- Keep bed time routine the same as you did when in a crib.
- Let them pick out their new bedding.
- Play in the bedroom during the light day time hours so she's comfortable in the room.