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Moving to a Big Bed
by Rebecca Garland

Moving your child into a big bed is a task parents both eagerly anticipate and dread. The big bed is a sure sign your child is growing up, but it is also a sign of future struggles with midnight ramblings, difficult bedtimes, and other nightmares parents hear about from their friends and family members. Moving your child into a toddler or full sized bed is definitely a big deal, but it shouldn’t be an ordeal.

The Right Timing
The first step to moving your child should be to check the timing. The toddler years are full of changes, so making one this dramatic should be timed appropriately. Most toddlers are greatly

comforted by familiar surroundings and nothing is more comforting than their crib. To take that comfort away when they need it most will cause everyone in your household great frustration.

If there is anything causing your toddler upheaval, such as a new home, a baby either on the way or newly arrived, or a major trip, skip the move until a later date. The worst time to change beds is right before a new baby arrives. Toddlers are astute enough to realize that the new baby is sleeping in the crib they were just removed from, and that is one more reason to protest the baby’s arrival.

Moving for a Sibling
The most common reasons parents begin to think about moving out of a crib is the impending arrival of a sibling. If moving right before the sibling arrives is a bad time, and it is, you must find another way to make the switch without your child clueing in to what is happening. If your toddler is ready and willing, make the switch months before the baby comes. Then leave the crib empty for as long as possible to show him the baby has nothing to do with his move.

Or if your child simply isn’t ready to stay put at night in a big bed, make the switch after the baby arrives. Put the baby to sleep in a bassinet at night for the first few months. During this time, wait for your child to be ready to move into a big bed. After he moves, leave the crib in his room empty for a time before asking if baby sister can use it since he’s finished. If he says no, leave it a few more days and try again. A bit of positive reinforcement and perhaps a Big Brother treat of some kind will help him give the crib away making the switch relatively drama free.

Making the Switch
When you’re ready to make the switch, let your child lead you. Provide both a big boy bed and the crib and take time to play and practice laying down on each. If your child falls asleep out of his crib for a nap, place him in the bed rather than the crib so he can experience sleeping in the bed. It will likely be easier to make the transition at naptime before you switch at bedtime, so focus on naps first.

Every night ask where your child wants to sleep. Make the big boy bed enticing with special sheets and pillows, and eventually he’ll make the right choice. Then, put him to bed and ready yourself for a rough night.

Your toddler will likely sleep reasonably well. He might have one or two wake-ups that need your reassurance and maybe a bit or milk or water. You, however, will spend most of the night anticipating him falling out of bed or wandering around the house getting into trouble. Many parents making the switch to the big bed will sleep in the same room or just outside the door, but it is better to let your child practice sleeping the way he will continue to sleep going forward. Just be ready to get into his room when he needs you during this transition.

The first week will be rough, but sooner than you think your child will be sleeping peacefully in his bed every night and you’ll have to start worrying about the next big toddler transition – potty training.

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