How To Transition From A Crib To A Toddler Bed

young girl sitting up in a toddler-sized bed, looking happy and well rested

Moving from crib to bed is yet another milestone in your toddler’s life. There’s no set time for when it’s best to switch your child from a crib to a toddler bed. However, little ones generally make the switch from crib to toddler bed any time between 18 months and 3 1/2 years old, ideally as close to age 3 as possible, according to guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

There are a few factors to consider before you make the transition – most important, making sure your child is developmentally ready for the move. If you notice your toddler doing any of the following, it’s likely time to make the switch.

Signs your child is ready to transition to a toddler bed

  • The AAP recommends transitioning a child out of a crib and into a toddler bed once the crib railing is lower than their chest. At that height, children are more easily able to climb out of the crib, which can lead to injury.
  • After they’re fully potty-trained at night. For many kids, potty training overnight comes after daytime potty training. But once they’re no longer wearing diapers or training paints to sleep, they’ll need easy access to a bathroom.
  • Once they’ve expressed interest in a big kid bed, that’s a good sign they’re cognitively and emotionally ready for the transition.
  • Make sure the transition to the toddler bed doesn’t coincide with any other big lifestyle changes, such as moving or bringing home a new baby.

In short, you will follow your toddler’s lead to determine when it’s time. For example, if your child hasn’t mastered the art of self-control and doesn’t understand the importance of staying in their bed or room at night, they may not be ready. When they are ready, here’s some advice to make the transition as smooth and positive as possible.

Tips for easing the transition to a toddler bed

  • Put the new bed in the same place your toddler’s crib used to be. Make sure your toddler’s bed is positioned away from any potential hazards that could lead to injury. Place the bed at least 2 feet from any windows, heating vents, radiators, wall lamps or window blind cords. It’s best to either avoid having blind cords in your child’s bedroom if possible or tack them high up and out of reach.
  • Get the right size bed and mattress. If you’re moving from a nonconvertible crib to a bed, you might be tempted to buy a twin bed that will last your child for years to come, but a toddler-specific bed is a better choice. It’s lower to the ground and the mattress is smaller, both of which make it easier for very young children ages 15 months and up to climb in and hop out without getting hurt. Toddler beds are also designed to be used with a full-sized crib mattress (so feel free to use the full-sized mattress from your child’s crib, if it’s still in good condition). The crib mattress should fit snugly — if you’re not sure whether it’s right, use the two-finger test. The mattress isn’t a good fit if you’re able to fit more than two fingers in between it and the bed. You can explore the Colgate Mattress® new CuddleSnooze® Crib Mattress Collection designed to gently lull baby into a cozy, sound and restful sleep throughout the infant and toddler years.
  • Make sure the toddler bed comes equipped with safety rails. Safety rails serve the purpose of stopping your child from rolling out of bed. Convertible cribs and toddler beds are required to have side rails at least 5 inches taller than the top of the mattress. If you’re using a bed without a built-in rail, be sure to install separate guardrails that are at least that tall.
  • Check that the hardware is firmly secured. Whether you’re converting your crib or buying something new, a thorough safety inspection is always a good idea. Confirm that hardware like bolts and screws are firmly secured and that the sides and slats have tight, sturdy joints.
  • Set physical boundaries. Late-night visits from your child might be inevitable at the beginning, but tell them that they need to stay in bed once the lights go out. If they try to escape a few times and call for you in the middle of the night, simply tell them everything’s okay, give them a kiss, and walk them back to bed. It might take a few tries, but they’ll catch on eventually.
  • Maintain your routine. The bed may change, but the bedtime routine doesn’t have to. Keep your nighttime routine consistent with how it was in the crib – bath, teeth brushing, books – so your child has a sense of familiarity and knows when they’re expected to settle in for the night.
  • Reward good behavior. If your child stays in their bed all night, tell them how proud you are of them so they’re inclined to do it again. It’s up to you whether you want to use prizes or other incentives to encourage good listening.

Now that your child has free reign of the house – don’t panic! But, you will need to review important home childproofing. Here are some more tips:

  • Make sure your child is comfortable. This might mean buying a new nightlight or leaving a light on in the hallway if they’re newly afraid of the dark or letting them sleep with a comfort object such a lovey or stuffed animal during the night.
  • Steer clear of electrical outlets. If you have to put the bed near an outlet, make sure nothing is plugged in and that the outlets have child-protected plugs in them to protect curious little fingers.
  • Install safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, lock all doors and windows, and anchor furniture that could topple over.
  • Keep unsafe items out of reach. This includes latching all drawers with cleaning products, medicine, and electrical items.

As with many aspects of parenting, there’s no way to predict how this transition to the bed will go. Once in a while it’s okay to bend the rules and let your child cuddle up in your bed. But it’s best to develop a plan and stick with it as often as possible. Your child will thrive on the consistency of a routine just as much as you will.

If your child is upset and doesn’t want to sleep in the new bed, don’t give up right away. Encourage your child to try out the bed. If they’re still distraught after a few days, bring the crib back without treating it like it’s a punishment, and try again in a few months.

5 Ways to Improve Baby’s Summer Slumber

The temperatures are rising, and summer is officially here. Summer is a great time of the year – being outside, swimming and enjoying more sunshine! But, many parents don’t realize that high temperatures and daylight savings time may pose problems for their baby’s summertime sleep. 

 

Here are a few tips to help keep your baby sleeping well during the summer months:

 

  1. Stick To Your Schedule

These months, we all love fun in the sun. But it’s still important to keep your sleep schedule consistent even in the summer. Vacations can throw everyone off schedule. Try to establish some structure to your days and create a summertime routine that lines up as closely as possible with your regular schedule. Keep wake time, bedtime and nap times the same.

 

  1. Limit Sunlight Close To Bedtime 

The longer hours of light may affect your baby’s sleep patterns. Spend some time inside, out of the sun, before bed. Coming inside and having about 30-minutes of cool, quiet pre-sleep activities will also help your baby to fall asleep easier. Also, consider closing the blinds at least an hour before bedtime, and putting room-darkening shades or curtains in the nursery.  Helps with nap time, too! Doing this will help your baby begin to relax and fall to sleep easier.

 

  1. Keep it Cool

Babies’ bodies do not regulate temperature as well as adults do. Did you know that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit? During the summer months, many of us have our air conditioners working overtime, but this may not be enough to help encourage sleep. You may want to keep the shades in the room drawn during hot days to reduce room temperature. Using a fan inside the room before bedtime will help cool it down.

 

  1. Limit Pajamas  

Dress baby in minimal clothing for sleep during the summer. Try a tee shirt or short sleeve onesie, or even just a diaper for your baby if it’s really hot. Switch to a lightweight cotton swaddle blanket or cotton jersey sleep sack. As always, no bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. in the crib. Not only are they unsafe, they can be stifling when temperatures are high.

 

  1. Use a Firm Mattress

To keep your baby’s crib cool from underside, use a firm crib mattress covered with a high-quality, fitted and waterproof mattress cover. Soft mattresses can increase the chance of suffocation and put your little one at risk. Babies should always sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. 

 

As parents, we will do anything to protect and bring comfort to our new bundle of joy. That’s why Colgate Mattress created DREAM SAFE. Through practical tips and expert advice, our goal is to educate and encourage caregivers to adopt lifesaving safe sleep practices. Together, we can ensure both you and baby enjoy sweet dreams.

 

Continue to make safe sleep a priority for your family so everyone can enjoy a wonderful summer!

6 Tips To Ensure Baby Has A Restful Sleep

Starting at 3 months of age, many babies (thankfully!) start sleeping for longer stretches at night, although this varies from infant to infant. According to Stanford’s Children Health, two-thirds of babies are able to sleep through much of the night by the six-month mark. 

Babies who follow a consistent bedtime routine go to sleep easier and sleep better throughout the night. Bedtime routines reinforce babies’ natural circadian rhythms, helping teach them the difference between day and night. Later on, a bedtime routine helps little ones to slow down and prepare mentally for bedtime.

 

To help set new parents up for bedtime success, we’ve gathered six top sleep tips to ensure baby’s routine is smooth and effective. 

 

    1. Follow a calming bedtime routine. Overstimulation in the evening can make it difficult for your baby to settle to sleep. Play active games during the day and quiet, peaceful games in the evening, especially toward the end of the routine. Many babies enjoy bathing right before bedtime, which calms them down. Keep activities the same and in the same order, night after night.
    2. Put baby to bed drowsy, but awake. This will help them associate bed with the process of falling asleep. Remember to place your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft, loose items.
    3. Give baby time to settle down. Save baby’s favorite activity for last, and do it in their bedroom. This will help them look forward to bedtime and associate their sleep space with things they like to do. Be peaceful, especially toward the end of the routine. 
    4. Offer a pacifier. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back in.
    5. Keep nighttime care low-key. Make nighttime conditions in your baby’s bedroom consistent. When they wake up in the middle of the night, the sounds and lights in the room should be the same as when they fell asleep. If your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will let them know it’s time to sleep, not play.
    6. Help baby learn how to self-soothe. Ideally, you want your baby to learn how to fall asleep in their crib on their own. This means not picking up your little one every time he or she fusses. If your baby starts to cry, you can gently pat or rub their tummy and speak softly to him or her. Giving babies some time to comfort themselves so they can fall back asleep on their own can establish good sleeping habits, which helps you get a good night’s rest too. 

 

Middle-of-the-night feedings are unavoidable and sure to disrupt sound sleep, for both babies and parents, the first few months. As little ones grow, they will start to sleep in longer stretches. And as your baby sleeps longer, the benefits of having an established rhythm and a baby who knows how to fall asleep at bedtime and nap times, and fall back asleep when awoken, is priceless. Then, the phrase “sleep like a baby” takes on a whole new meaning!