Thinking of moving your baby to a toddler bed? WAIT until your child is 3 years old before moving into a big bed. Children younger than 3 years have a hard time staying in bed. This is a developmental issue. THEY JUST CAN’T do it much before age 3. Trust me on this, especially if your child is a boy. Their young brain is working on climbing, running and MOVING. So, to ask a young child to stay put, is difficult.
I am all about safety, so if your child is climbing out of bed, I recommend a crib tent. Countless parents who have called me for help on this issue have thanked me for this recommendation. Your child will be more ready between three to three and a half years old to learn about staying in bed all night.
Before moving your child, talk to him and share the rules around sleeping in a big bed. Help choose blankets, pillows and sheets together, and get excited about the transition. You can have a “graduation” party and even spend the night in the room together.
Before the big transition, make sure your child is able to follow simple directions and is cooperative. It can be helpful to leave the crib and bed both in the child’s room and offer the choice of a bed for a daytime nap, before use at night as well.
You can also experiment with leaving the crib side off and just put a railing on, giving the child freedom before actually changing to a bed.
If your child pops out of bed all night, experimenting with this new freedom, offer to leave the door open IF HE STAYS IN BED. A closed door, or installing a gate may be necessary for safety reasons.
Offer POSITIVE verbal re-enforcement for good behavior. Try to IGNORE negative behavior. If you aren’t comfortable with a gate, or closed door, then it is more work for parents. Keep putting your child back in bed if he does keep getting up, but don’t talk to him. It is ok to say ONCE … ”back to bed”…but then silence is best. Otherwise, this will become a fun game. With your persistence, your child will stay in bed after some nights of working at this. It is easiest if you really impress your toddler that YOU are the boss,