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If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen I recently moved J.D into a toddler bed. It was a pretty scary step to take for me. It was like taking away that little bit of comfort knowing they are safely ensconced behind bars of a cot. Plus putting him into a bed made him grow up to fast. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. We had to move him from the nursery to a new room to make way for baby number two and I had been tossing around the idea of moving him into a toddler bed during this move. After talking to hubby we decided to bite the bullet and make it one big transition. This could have turned pear shaped but thankfully it turned out to be a pretty smooth transition. Here are some tips I followed to get the little guy ready for his bed:
1. Time It Right:You probably need to time this move when there are not a lot of other things going on in the household. With a new baby coming in a matter of weeks I knew I wanted to make the switch before there was another dynamic to deal with. Plus we had trialled him sleeping on a mattress when we went camping a few weeks back and he coped with that just fine. He had also started making independent choices for himself such as refusing to be put into a sleeping bag and wanting to sit at the table for dinner. If your child is sick, going through a clingy stage or just does not seem ready to make the move then hold off. You don’t want to scar them through this transition and make it a long and drawn out process. Our little guy had just turned two when we made the switch but I don’t think there is a specific age that transitioning to a bed needs to be done by. Gauge your child and their personality and you will know the time is right. On a side note if they are climbing out of their cot this is a good sign they are ready for a bed.
2. Announce & Prepare:Don’t simply plop them in their new bed one day and expect them to sleep like they did in their cot without any forewarning. I would suggest making a little announcement to them at least a week in advance to prepare them for the change that is coming. I would suggest talking to them about it every day and explain to them what is going to happen and answer any questions that they may have. Get them excited about the whole process and include them in everything as you prepare the make the switch. If you child seems disturbed and upset every time you mention it maybe leave it a few weeks before trying the process again.
3. Shop Till You Drop:Taking your soon-to-be bed sleeper shopping for the actual bed and bed linen is a great way to get them involved in the process. Let them pick out some special sheets and maybe even a new doona cover to go on the bed. If they want to help put the bed together then give them simple jobs of fetching screws or small pieces of equipment. We bought a second hand toddler bed and my little guy loved helping me give it a clean and wipe down and during this process I was able to continue the conversation with him about sleeping in a ‘Big Boys Bed’.
4. Safety & Placement:It is important to place your new bed in a safe area of the room. Avoid it being next to windows or blinds especially if they can get hold of cords. If you are putting your child into a normal single bed think about investing in a side rail to keep them from falling out. Also for the first few nights place a mattress or a few pillows around the edge of the bed. If they so happen to accidentally take a fall out of bed they will have a soft landing.
5. Give Them Time:Don’t put the bed up 20 minutes before your child’s nap and expect them to naturally want to sleep in it. I actually had our bed set up a day in advance before trying to make J.D take a sleep in it. We spent the morning in his room playing, reading stories, making his bed with new sheets and a quilt and talking about this is where he will now sleep. I think it gave him time to process what was happening and get excited about wanting to sleep in his new bed. He hopped in and out of it all morning and kept saying "nigh nigh" to me as he layed there pretending to sleep.
6. Send Them To Bed Tired:I wore him out that morning with lots of activities so that he was ready to sleep. Expect a little commotion for this first sleep. J.D was really excited and kept sitting up and chatting but thankfully never got out of bed. They may not sleep as long as they seem to know that something is new and different. Hopefully after a week this has settled down and they have transitioned back to their old routine. I would recommend trying to get your toddler to have their afternoon nap in the bed before trying for a night time sleep. Don't be tempted at this stage to want to throw the towel in and put them back in the cot. This will only confuse them in this process and make them more insecure.
7. Expect Resistance & Be Consistent:No kid likes change so after the initial excitement has worn off you might start experiencing resistance to bed times. Be consistent through this rocky stage but also be sympathetic. Give them a cuddle and tell them its okay but don't give in. If they won’t stay in bed keep putting them back to bed and telling them “It’s bed time now” and “It’s time to sleep and you need to stay in bed” etc. J.D was a little emotional during us putting him down for his first night time sleep. Since it was dark and everything a little different I think it left him insecure. We reassured him everything was okay and left a nightlight on to help lighten the room a bit. We did have to pop in a couple of times to reassure and calm him down but he did end up falling asleep just fine. If all else fails when trying to calm your crying child down why not play your upset darling this cute baby soother song below. It apparently helps sooth most kids if they are crying and upset! Pretty cute huh?
I hope these few tips give you some courage to take the plunge to transitioning your toddler from the cot to a bed. Remember take a deep breath and know this is just one of the many seasons we all have to walk through with raising kids. It took us between 7-10 days for J.D to settle into his normal routine again and for him to feel comfortable in his new bed. There was days I regretted the decision but now I am on the other side I know we did the right thing. You just need to stay strong on the bad days and know you will get through them. One thing I will warn you of is once they realise that are no longer barred in from the cot they can get a little mischiveous a few days or weeks down the track as you can see below! Yes that is a sudocream facial happening there! Good luck and happy transitioning.
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Having trouble during nappy change time with a wriggly baby? Try BabyLove Nappy Pants - with no tabs to contend with, the 360-degree stretchy waist allows you to pull them up quickly and easily, so your active toddler can get back to action in no time! Request a sample.