When should my child sleep in a bed?

Moving from a crib to a bed is a big change for a toddler. She’ll leave the security of a small, closed-in space for the freedom of a larger space. And after spending a few years in a confining crib, she’ll be able to control her movements in and out of bed.

                               Parents often wonder what it will be like when their child has her own bed. Will she fall out at night? Will she get out of bed frequently? Will she play and entertain herself in bed as she did in the crib? Will she feel comfortable and secure? They sometimes have mixed feelings about the transition from crib to bed. It’s exciting to watch a child grow, but it’s also easy to feel sentimental as she gets older.

                               One of the questions parents frequently ask is, “When will my child be old enough to sleep in a bed?” Some children move to a bed when they’re as young as twenty months—usually because a new sibling needs the crib. But if the crib isn’t needed, parents should probably wait until their child is two and one-half or three years old before making the switch. By that time, she may be ready for the move and excited by the idea of having her own bed.

                               The transition from crib to bed shouldn’t come when a child is going through major changes such as her mother’s return to work or the beginning of day care or nursery school. At these times, she will probably need the security of her familiar crib. If the change to a bed is planned in anticipation of a new baby, the parents should not wait until the baby is born to make the switch, but rather give their child at least three or four months to get used to sleeping in a bed.

                               Before you move your child out of the crib, prepare her for the change. If you’re buying a new bed or sheets, you might want to take her shopping with you. Spend some time talking to her about her move from the crib, but be careful about telling her that she’s getting a bed because she’s “big now”. Toddlers feel a desire and pressure to be older and sometimes the suggestion that they should act “big” adds stress to a situation. Your child may feel you want her to do something she’s not yet ready for.

                               Once you have the bed, try putting it right next to her crib so she can make a gradual switch from one to the other. She can begin by taking naps in the bed, and then slowly start spending nights there. If she was used to having toys in her crib, put some on her bed. After a few weeks, when she no longer needs her crib, take it down, letting her help. Or, if you’re going to use the crib for a new baby, let your child help move it to the other room.

                               If you’re concerned about your child’s safety in a bed, you can buy a safety bar that will keep her from falling out. You also can put the box spring and mattress on the floor rather than on a frame so she can climb in and out of bed easily without getting hurt—and she can even jump on her bed safely this way.

                               During the time of transition, notice how she feels about the change. If she’s having a difficult time giving up her crib, slow down. Even if you planned to use the crib for a new baby, you can postpone the change by putting the newborn in a cradle or portable crib for several months. And when you do give the crib to the baby, don’t be surprised if your older child still shows an interest in playing or sleeping in it. Children occasionally like to pretend they’re babies and go back to familiar objects and places. As long as your child doesn’t feel pressure to give up her crib before she’s ready, her transition to a bed should be smooth.

Picture Credit : Google