As an infant and toddler sleep consultant, one of the most asked questions that I receive is "When should I move baby into a toddler bed?" Many people are surprised by what I have to say!
I recommend you avoid moving your child out of the crib into that exciting new toddler bed until as close to their 3rd birthday as you can. I know! But, that's preschooler age!
But here's the thing, moving out of a crib before three can cause some havoc to your child's overall sleep, and yours too! Before 3 years of age, most children aren't yet at a developmental stage where they wish to please their parents. Instead, negative attention, is just attention! And that means that when your toddler climbs out of the bed 500 times at bedtime, that he or she doesn't really care if you're upset about it and pleading with them to stay in their bed! Now, around 3 years of age, your child is old enough to want to please you and enjoy the celebration with you the next morning when they stayed in bed all night long! You're far less likely to resort to laying with your child out of desperation to help them sleep, when you don't rush this transition.
So, what do you do if your child is crib jumping? Ah, yes, this is a safety issue that will often result in parents moving to a bed too early. So here's my list of recommendations for keeping your little one in the crib longer:
- Introduce a sleep sack. And if your little one just gets out of it right away, then put it on backwards so that unzipping the sleep sack isn't possible. By being in a sleep sack, most young children aren't able to hoist their leg over the rail to get out.
- If the sleep sack isn't enough, then consider dropping the crib mattress lower. If it's on the lowest setting, then remove the board and drop the mattress right to the floor. This should help!
- Some parents find returning to a pack and play for sleep can help. If your little one is using their toes to climb the rail, then that's pretty hard to do with mesh walls!
- If the crib has a high back, then move the crib so that the lower side is against the wall. Once your little one sees the way out if a wall higher than they can climb, they give up on this pretty quickly!
I hope these ideas help you to keep your little ones safe and to protect your family's precious sleep!