“When should we put our toddler in a Big Kid Bed?”
Don’t fall for these common MYTHS! This should be a fun and exciting milestone for your family, and should not be stressful. This may sound crazy to you, but…
The best time to move your toddler to a big kid bed is on their THIRD birthday! I know, it sounds like a long time to wait but most little ones are not ready to understand the responsibility of their new “freedom” until somewhere between the age of two and a half and three. Now I know you think this is a stretch, and you most definitely have questions for me, so let’s work through how moving your child too early can cause issues with their sleep.
Roadblock #1 – “but Pam… we have a new baby on the way”
If you are expecting a new baby, use the bassinet for the newborn for the first three months or so. You do not need to be worried that your toddler will be “jealous” of the younger sibling when you move them to the crib. People have also used playpens or pack and plays either for their baby or their toddler as an interim solution. If your children are quite close in age, go ahead and invest in another crib – it will be worth your sleep!
Roadblock #2 – “but Pam… he HATES his crib!”
Another reason that parents move their toddler into a big kid bed as early as one year old, is because they feel that their little one “hates their crib”. They assume that they would be so much more comfortable in a bed that looks like ours. I can completely understand that logic, but it is not safe for your child. It is better for your toddler to learn to LOVE their crib and sleep safely, happily and peacefully throughout the night (if that is not happening at your house – we can help!). I also understand that by the age of two, many children seem like they are ready. Some are already toilet independent, dressing themselves and showing great signs of independence. If you move your child too soon, you will be faced with a variety of challenges – resisting bedtime, jumping out of bed repeatedly, and safely issues to name a few. It may seem to go well at first – but trust me – these common challenges will pop up soon enough.
Roadblock #3 – “but Pam… she climbs out of her crib! It’s a safety issue.”
The last reason parents often move their toddler too early is for safety concerns. Their little one has jumped out once and they are scared that they will get hurt. However, there are safety problems with having a young toddler in a bed as well. They may be up exploring the house during the night when you are not aware (and locking them in their room or using a baby gate is not a good solution either).
Instead of moving them to the bed prematurely and creating more problems, it is better to teach your child to stay in their crib and LOVE being there. Put down a soft mattress so they don’t get hurt if they climb out and then please contact me for some simple, easy and gentle strategies if this is happening to you. Not all kids attempt to jump out. To keep this from happening to you, make sure to never encourage your little ones to climb in! If they are allowed to climb in…they will think it is OK to climb out!
“Okay Pam, I see what you are saying. So what’s the plan?”
For staying in the crib, a cozy sleep sack can be a great tool. See why we LOVE sleep sacks. And if you have a Houdini child (like my sweet darling daughter Maddy), then you NEED to know THIS amazing but simple trick!
A Toddler Clock is another of my favourite tools with this age group. If you have an early waker, learn more about how a Toddler Clock can help with those early mornings. If you want to learn HOW to introduce this useful and FUN tool to your child, you’ll want to read my Toddler Clock Tips.
You may be tempted to give your child a blanket in the crib, but this can actually disrupt their sleep as well. Learn more here: Should I Introduce a Blanket in the Crib?
When you wait until close to age three, sit down and explain to your little one on the importance of staying in their bed at bedtime and staying there throughout the night. Be clear with your expectations. It should be a very easy transition for all of you! Many of my clients like to make it a part of their child birthday celebration. About a week or so before you make the move, you can talk about them becoming a big kid and how exciting it will be!