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What’s the best age to kick the crib to the curb and switch to a toddler bed?
— Ready for Change
Most kids do well making the move at age 3. It’s an exciting
change, so the most common pattern we see in our practice is parents making it too early. Generally
speaking, if a sleep arrangement isn’t broken, don’t fix it: If your 2-year-old
is sleeping well in the crib, keep it right on going. At age 3, most little
ones have the impulse control to stay in bed and understand the idea of making
this their cozy place for the whole 11-hour night. Reasons to make the switch
earlier would be if your toddler starts to climb out of the crib or you need
the crib for a new baby.
Make the transition very clear by taking the crib out of the
room, instead of having both bed and crib in the room, which can be confusing
for a toddler. Plump up the sides of the bed with a safety rail, some extra
blankets and stuffed animals, so it’s not just a wide-open space. Either buy a
book on the "big bed" or make a simple picture book to read about going from
crib to bed.
Lastly, rehearse how things will go! Use stuffed animals to
show the routine, how you’ll say goodnight and how the animals stay there until morning, when the sun comes up. If you have "The Happy Sleeper" book, you know the
technique of the Reverse Sleep Wave (automatic 5-minute checks you do without
your child needing to call you back in the room at bedtime). This is a great
method if your little one has trouble saying goodnight.