Switching to toddler bed is a bittersweet milestone. There is no specific age this should happen. For some children, it may happen at 15 months while others at 3 years. The time to switch to the toddler bed depends upon the child’s physical development and skills. You will want to make the transition before your intrepid little tot undertakes an adventure. We are talking about the art of escaping the crib.
What Is A Toddler Bed?
These are small beds of low height. They are designed for toddlers to get in and get out with ease. Little ones become capable of escaping infant beds around 15 months. It is then they should be moved to a toddler bed. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), a toddler bed should accommodate a crib mattress. The dimensions of the mattress are around 28 inches or 71 cm by 52 inches or 133 cm. If you have a full-sized crib then you can place this mattress on the toddler bed. A toddler bed is 51.62 inches or 130 cm long and 27.25 inches or 69 cm wide.
Signs to Make the Switch
Even though there is no set age to make the transition to a toddler bed. Here are the signs then help to make the decision.
They climb out of the crib – A child is brimming with energy and always excited and curious about the world. And of course, the magnet of your love and attention pulls the little one out of the crib. Cribs are usually high to facilitate the adult caring for the child. And they have high sides to prevent the little one from falling out. As they are full of irrepressible energy they will climb out of the crib. And as you do not want them falling from a height and injuring their head or neck. You should switch to the toddler bed.
Potty training – When you are in the process of potty training. You want the child to go to the toilet by themselves. For this, they should be able to get out of bed by themselves. You do not want them wetting their beds. And you want them answering nature’s call by themselves. The low height of the toddler bed makes it easy for them to do so.
Growing fast – If your child is 35 inches or 89 centimeters tall or more; then consider a toddler bed. Little ones grow fast. If their head and feet touch the ends of the crib then shift to a larger bed.
Storks visit – If you are expecting another baby and your child is 18 months or more; move them to a toddler bed. But make sure you take care of their emotional needs. They shouldn’t get a feeling that they are being replaced by another. This leads to jealousy, temper tantrums, long bouts of crying, and other emotional upsets. Make it exciting that the big brother or sister is going to get the big bed.
How to Make the Transition?
To make the transition easy – let them pick their toddler bed.
Buying the bed – These beds come in many exciting shapes, colors, and materials. If your toddler is a car enthusiast then get them a car bed, if they like ships then get something for the sailor, etc. The activity should give them a feeling that the bed is for them. Let them pick the pillowcases and bedcovers to complete the effects. You could put in their favorite lights and playact as adults do. Children love to mimic their elders. All these tips and tricks should make the transition easier. Ensure that the height of the bed is just right for the toddler – you don’t want them injuring themselves.
Convertible cribs – are an excellent option to maintain a sense of familiarity. This helps the child fall asleep quickly. Convertible cribs can be turned from a crib into a toddler bed. The switch is very easy – simply remove the front panel.
Set a routine – Follow the same routine you followed before. Give them a massage followed by a bath. Change them into warm loose nightclothes. Talk softly to them – this lulls them to sleep.
Nap times – As you do not want to upset the toddler with the feeling that you are trying to distance yourself. Encourage them to take a nap in the new bed. This will help them understand that it is theirs. Slowly they will use the toddler bed by themselves.
Sleep cues – You could put on some white noise, lullabies, or tell them bedtime stories. Talk to the kids about their day. Giving them a pep talk about the good job they did on a task during the day. This builds their self-esteem and encourages them to remain consistent. You could peruse a book together that has pictures of families, pets, etc., in their bed. This serves as an auto-suggestion to sleep.
Keep it consistent – If your toddler turns in at 8 pm then make it a routine. By routine we mean that do the bedtime rituals of a bath, nightclothes, drinking milk, stories, lullabies, or talks between 7 – 8 pm. The lights should be switched off by 8 pm.
Make it exciting – Talk about the new bed animatedly. Describe it – let their imagination take off. Tell them how it is like to have their bed like a grown-up. In no time you will have your little Peter Pan weaving their fantasies in dreamtime.
Lovies and plushies – Give a sense of security and belonging to the kids. Let them pick their companions. Very often they become their companions like Christopher Robin has Pooh, Roo, Eeyore, and Tigger.
Be patient – Even adults take 21 days to adjust to a new routine; this is a toddler. Give the transition 2 – 3 weeks; the routine will set in by itself.
The big challenge – If your perky little toddler is still full of energy. They will not want to remain in bed. Thus, childproof the room. Cover the electrical sockets, soften the sharp edges of the furniture. Make sure the curtain rods do not fall when the child hangs on them for support. Put a gate to the room.
Talk to the child telling that the gate will help them stay in the room. If your little one is a gymnast and the gate is no hurdle then shut the door an put a knob cover. But the best thing to do is to create a bedtime routine that you do not need to shut the door.
Key Features on a Toddler Bed
These are a few essentials on a toddler bed;
Low bed height – helps the child get in and out of the bed. Even if the toddler rolls off the bed it is not very high to hurt the child badly.
Guard rails – run all the way in the back and halfway in the front. These prevent the toddler from rolling off the bed when sleeping precariously close to the edge.
Sturdiness – The guard rails are added weight. The bed should be able to take the weight of the child and the rails. Most toddler beds should be able to support a weight of 50 pounds or 22 kg. But little ones grow quickly so match their weight to the capacity of the bed.
Correct assembly – of the bed is essential for the safety of the child. Ensure all the pieces are in place, they should be screwed together correctly. All sharp parts should be covered. The pillows, covers, mattress, and blankets should be placed for maximum comfort and safety of the child. Always opt for a firm mattress to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This usually happens because the child is not able to breathe.
Periodic checks – As the toddlers are active – they get in and out of the bed. The joints and parts may become loose and squeaky. Double-check them periodically to prevent the bed from collapsing or crashing.
Materials – Use a plastic, wicker, or wooden bed for the toddler. They are easy to clean and lightweight. They are easy to sterilize by placing in Sunlight. They can withstand rough use.
In conclusion, besides all the above mentioned points if you think you jumped the gun and shifted the child too soon. Watch out for the signs of regression in the toddler and differentiate them from initial resistance.
The little one may be a little hesitant; may even wake up in the middle of the night. They even reappear through the night to check on their parents. They may request a drink of water, hugs, and cuddles.
Give the child what they need and gently guide them back to “their” bed. Do this with an as-little agitation, drama or fanfare. This keeps the buzz of the sleep and makes it easy for the child to fall asleep quickly.
But if the child resists and it turns into a full-fledged tantrum. And this is new in the child’s behavior then reintroduce the crib. But keep using the toddler bed for a nap till they accept it. Do not show disappointment and be patient.
A toddler bed is a milestone where your toddler learns to sleep alone in a full-size bed. It’s the first step towards independence and could take some working – for you and the little one. Be patient, playful, and cheerful about it.