If your little one has hit the 18-month milestone, they may be starting to outgrow their cot or crib. This is a sign that they are ready to move to their very first bed. Some will happily embrace the change and never look back. However, other toddlers may find the move unsettling. Here’s a look at how you can help them adapt to their very own bed.
When your toddler is ready is not just a matter of age, of course. They all grow and develop at different rates, and sometimes it can take up the age of two or even three before a child is ready to sleep in a bed.
If they are physically big enough to climb out of the crib, then the transfer should be made straight away, to avoid the risk of an accident. Likewise, if the toddler has grown up to 3ft tall, and is no longer able to comfortably lie in the cot or crib, then they may struggle to get a good night’s sleep, and this will impact on their behaviour and development.
Also consider the emotional maturity of your child. Some toddlers may already be asking for a ‘proper’ bed, especially if they have older brothers or sisters. If they generally sleep well through the night, and tend to embrace new situations well, then this is a sign that they are ready for the move.
When you have the new bed all set up, avoid making any abrupt changes to your child’s bedtime routine, as this might be too unsettling for them. Keep to the same bath time and bedtime, and continue to read them a goodnight story, if this is your regular custom. You could also let them take daytime naps in the bed, so it is more familiar in the night time.
If you find that your toddler is getting out of the bed at night and calling you awake, you may want to consider sleeping on a camp bed in their room until they get used their new bed. Alternatively, you could switch back to the crib for a few months if they really won’t settle in.
Remember not to reward your child for waking you up in the night, or make a big fuss with snacks, drinks or games. Simply return them to bed with a favourite soft toy, and explain that they need to stay in bed until morning.
When it comes to choosing the bed, you can buy a toddler-friendly version, which is shorter and lower than a standard size bed, and can be fitted with safety rails, if you are worried about the risk of falls. Let them help you choose the bedding; there is plenty of choice of toddler bedding sets in boy and girl-friendly designs.
If you want a half-way stage, there are hybrid crib/beds available, which allow you to remove the safety rails from one side. This may be a good option if your toddler doesn’t like change, as it will feel just as familiar and comforting as their crib.