Nicola Gillis knew that it was time to transition her daughter, Alexa, into a bed when the then 16-month-old made an acrobatic attempt to climb out of her crib. “We caught her with one leg slung over the top rail,” says Gillis. The fact that the Toronto mom was five-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child was just added motivation to get the move underway.
How to Make the Switch From Crib to Bed
Wendy Hall, RN, PhD, a pediatric sleep expert at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing, says that the optimal time to make the switch from a crib to a bed is between the ages of two and three-and-a-half years old, when children are able to comprehend the responsibilities associated with their new freedom. However, if you see that your child is able to get one leg over their crib rail sooner, says Tracey Ruiz, The Sleep Doula founder, “then it’s time to move forward with the transition.”
Regardless of when the move happens, follow these tips to ensure the process is as stress-free as possible.
Too Much, Too Soon
If your child is having persistent temper tantrums or is falling out of the bed, the switch to a big bed may have come too early. If you do not think your child is quite ready to move to a bed, make sure the mattress in the crib is at the lowest setting, which should keep her from climbing out and is the safest spot for her. If the crib isn’t an option and the bed isn’t working or the situation seems to be getting worse, it may be time to seek help from a sleep expert.
Stay the Course
For the Gillis family, the transition is off to a relatively smooth start. Alexa, now 18 months, protests from her bed briefly each night, however, a few settling words and another tuck-in later, and she’s off to sleep. Thankfully, Gillis’ family has a couple more months before their second child is born to work through any issues. Dr. Hall stresses the importance of this, cautioning parents not to move a child out of her crib too close to when a new baby is coming. “It’s best to either do it a couple of months before the new baby arrives or a few months after he’s born in order to ensure there are no feelings of resentment.”