Parents are often excited to transition their children to a toddler bed. It is a sign of maturity and a delightful new stage of development. However, it can also be fraught with struggle as your child discovers his newly gained independence. The charm of that adorable little bed quickly wears off as your child comes out of her bedroom door dozens of times each evening. If you are despairing, take heart! There are things you can do to keep this transition as smooth as possible.
Remember This Is Big for Them
Big changes naturally make our children feel insecure. Remember to think of this transition as learning a new skill and be sure to give lots of grace and reassurance throughout the process. Try to enter the process with extra patience and minimal expectations. You may lose your evenings for a week or so, but with your careful and loving guidance, your child will be enjoying her new big-girl bed in no time.
Here are some tips to remember as you help your little one adjust to his new sleeping arrangements.
Avoid Combining Other Transitions
It’s tempting, when moving a child to a new bed, to also establish a new routine. However, if you’ve been wanting to add a bath at bedtime or stop that last cup of milk, be sure to establish your new routine before you switch to a toddler bed. While combining transitions may make sense to you, it will most likely confuse your child.
In the same line of thought, avoid combining the transition to a big-kid bed with any other big life change. Potty training, moving, a big family trip, and the addition of a sibling are all very large events in the life of a toddler. For this reason, try to introduce the toddler bed when everything else in your child’s life is at a good equilibrium. Obviously, this can be difficult since toddlers change so quickly. But be sure to plan around other large plans on the calendar.
Personalize the Bed as Much as Possible
Moving from a baby’s sleeping arrangements, which are typically snuggly, soft, and cocoon-like, to a larger bed can make a child lonely. Be sure to include all your child’s favorite things nearby and give them soft things to embrace. Allowing your child to choose some of their bedding (or even the bed itself!) is a great way to give her ownership of the transition and space. Additionally, if you can place the toddler bed in the same place as her former sleep space, it will certainly help. Looking at the same things from the same perspective as she falls asleep will soothe her.
Act Out the Transition Beforehand
Using stuffed animals and other beloved toys, spend several days acting out bedtime in the big bed before you try it. Allow your child to play the part of the parent, helping the stuffed friend prepare for bed. Be sure to point out how comfortable and safe the toy is as it drifts off to sleep.
Have a Script and Stick to It
When the day comes, and you’re ready to move your child, do so with confidence. You can guide him through this transition successfully. Plan what you will say if your child comes out of his room, wants to talk, or begins to cry. Simple phrases like “I will talk to you tomorrow” and “It’s time to stay in bed” are just enough to help him feel heard but not encourage his behavior. If your child is sad, acknowledge their feelings and give them grace. “It’s hard to change beds, and you’re not sure about it right now. Soon you will be used to it.” Comfort your child as needed, staying nearby. It may feel like you are creating a dependency, but when he realizes that you are supporting him, he will need you less each night.
The transition to a toddler bed is a wonderful milestone for small children, and a great step in independence. While it does take work and care from everyone involved, with the right tools, you will be celebrating success in no time. Are you looking for childcare at a facility that emphasizes independence and responsibility for toddlers? Check out Legacy Academy Suwanee, where we help every child rise to their potential.