The 3 Most Common Mistakes for Transitioning to a Big Bed

 Healthy Little Sleepers - Toddler Sleep

There I was pregnant with my second baby, and my son was still in his crib. I had no idea whether to transition him to a big kid bed when my little girl was born, or bite the bullet and a purchase another crib. This was just another question I was pondering and concerned about and of course another thing keeping me up at night. I asked a close friend (who always seemed to have great advice for me) what she would do. She said to just put him in a big boy bed; he'll do fine. Fine... hmmm. I wasn't liking the sound of that. So, of course I asked another friend who gave me exactly the opposite advice. (UGH eye roll). She told me I'd be crazy to put him in a bed right now, and it would make my life more difficult doing so, not easier! After all, he was only going to be 21 mos when my little girl was born. So, I came to the conclusion that easier was definitely something I needed to look into, and I bit the bullet and purchased a crib for my second baby (on the cheaper side of course). And I'm SO glad I did!!  So, on that note, here are the three most common reasons (mistakes) for transitioning to a big kid bed.

1. HAVING A NEW BABY

This is one of the most common reasons parents transition their toddler to a bed... I mean, who really wants to spend that extra money on another crib when eventually you will be needing to get a bed for the older one, as well. I definitely didn't. Even when I did transfer my son to a big kid bed (at 3.5 years old), I was faced with many typical challenges. I can't imagine juggling those challenges on top of having a newborn. I mean, I was barely getting any sleep with a newborn as it was, and to throw in an exploring toddler in the middle of the night would have been miserable. You can buy a little time by using a bassinet, a pack-and-play, or a co-sleeper for at least the first month. So, think twice about transitioning for this reason. Give yourself some time to adjust with having two kids. Afterall, having  new baby around will be a big enough transition for your first born who only knows life as a single baby.

So when's a good time for the transition? Wait till your toddler is at least 3 years old.

2. CLIMBING OUT OF CRIB

Yikes! Toddlers as early as 18 months old may start climbing out of the crib. The last thing you want your little one to do is hurt themself climbing out of the crib, but transitioning him/her to a bed should not be your first solution. When it is time for the transition, it's important to put Sleep Rules into place, and toddlers under 3 years of age can have a difficult time understanding and carrying out these "rules", so don't jump the gun. There are several other solutions to work with first. Here are a few things that can help: 

1. Put a sleep sack on them, so they can't get their little legs over the crib.

2. If you have a crib with a higher backside (e.g., sleigh crib), turn the crib around, so the short side is on the wall, and the high side is facing out. That way it is more difficult for them to get their little legs over the higher side of the crib.

3. A quick firm "No" as you catch them in the act. This requires monitor watching. Once you leave the room, you stand "guard", and when you see on the monitor that little foot come over, you open the door and say "NO" and then quickly close the door. This getting "caught in the act" can lead them to laying right back down. (Worked like a charm for my daughter at 2 years old). You may need to do it a couple times, but just be consistent about it. You can also have your spouse, grandma, brother, or babysitter do it too. They actually may have more luck because ya know, your "mom" or the "default parent", and your little one likes to give you a hard time.   

3. MOVING TO A NEW HOME

Many parents think it's a great time to transition to a bed when moving into a new house. WRONG! Moving to a new place in and of itself is a big change (for you too, not just your toddler), so you don't want to do too many things at one time. And often moving to a new home is coupled with another baby coming. Too many changes at one time can be overwhelming and difficult to process. One thing you CAN think about when you do move to a new home is where you would want your little one's bed to be because eventually you will be getting one in the somewhat near future. It's a great idea to put the current crib in the place where you envision the bed to be. Why, you ask? It will be one less "change" in the environment when they are going down for bedtime. Their perspective in the room will be the same, so it's one less new thing for them to take-in so to speak. 

So, if you are thinking about transitioning to a big kid bed for any of these reasons, I hope I have given you some pause in thinking about it. You definitely want to chose the "easier" route. While transitioning to a big kid bed can be smooth with all the right pieces in place, there will always be some bumps in the road. It's just a matter of how bumpy you want this road to be.

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  Susie Menkes, PhD is a Certified Infant + Toddler Sleep Specialist through the Family Sleep Institute (FSI), and she is dedicated to helping families get their little ones to be healthy little sleepers. As a mom of two, she knows and understands what you are going through and is here to support, educate, and guide you on all matters related to sleep.

Susie Menkes, PhD is a Certified Infant + Toddler Sleep Specialist through the Family Sleep Institute (FSI), and she is dedicated to helping families get their little ones to be healthy little sleepers. As a mom of two, she knows and understands what you are going through and is here to support, educate, and guide you on all matters related to sleep.