When do I ditch the crib? I get this question all the time and sometimes have to deal with it right smack in the middle of working with a client. My biggest piece of advice- WAIT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE! Why? Most kids do better with the transition from crib to bed when they have the language to fully understand the change. This is going to be closer to their 3rd birthday. And if your little tyke is happy to stay in her crib past turning 3, great! Children need to be old enough to understand your expectation of them in this new environment. Otherwise, you might run into a plethora of new challenges. So, let’s problem solve two very common scenarios with ways and reasons to keep your little one snug in her crib.
Scenario #1: Babe suddenly turned into Spider-Man and started climbing out of the crib. Sure, this can be scary and potentially dangerous, but there are ways to prevent your new super-hero from escaping. One idea is to purchase a sleep sack. This prevents little legs from hoisting up over the side. You can even put it on backwards if your smart little cookie tries to remove it himself. When I am working with a client and their babe suddenly tries to escape, this is my first line of defense, and it can work wonders. Just make sure your sleep sack is the appropriate length and weight depending on the season.
Scenario #2: Mom is giving birth and needs the crib for the new baby. Yes, this might be a bit of a dilemma, but it’s not worth rushing your oldest out of their enclosed quarters. Most newborns camp out in a bassinet in mom and dad’s room for several months after birth. If this brings your oldest closer to 3, then keep him in and make the switch later. He will be old enough to understand that the new baby needs his crib, and he’s now the big guy on campus! Or think about purchasing a second-hand crib so that you don’t feel you are investing in something you won’t use for long.
When you do decide to take the plunge, it is crucial to talk to your toddler about his or her new bed arrangement and set some up some boundaries and expectations. Make the transition exciting and fun! Take him or her to get new bedding and talk about it frequently before making the move. Have a fun filled family meeting where you all decorate a visual poster of “Sleep Rules” with your child and hang it where you can review it each night before bed. Enlist the help of older siblings to help create excitement as well. These are just a few of the strategies that might make for a smoother transition.
So, parents, trust me! Keep that crib as long as you can. And when the time comes, remember that any transition can be tricky! And often, we parents dread them! But similar to any other change, it is crucial that you don’t develop any new bad habits that you might have to break later. Stay consistent with your firm approach and within a few days, things will smooth out. And if they don’t, you can always contact a sleep consultant for some extra support and guidance!