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How to Move from Crib to Bed
Of Cribs and Big Kid Beds
When your child is ready for the transition from a crib to a bed, there are several things you as a parent can do to ensure the transition is a smooth one.
First, try setting up the bed alongside the crib. It is best to do this early in the day so your child has time to play, climb, and explore on it. The more comfortable your child is with his new bedroom furniture, the more likely he will be to sleep in it all night. Let your child help you move all of his favorite stuffed animals and pillows into the new bed. This will give him ownership over the new bed and make him proud to sleep in it. Also remove the sheet from the crib to make it look less appealing. As bedtime comes near, throw a big-kid-bed party. Have the rest of the family come into the bedroom and sit for a story. Take pictures of your 'new' big kid and promise to make a scrapbook page out of them (remember to follow through on the promise). When it is time to turn off the light, encourage your child to stay in the bed while reassuring him the crib will stay in his room for a few more days, just in case he needs it. (The presence of the crib may be a beacon of security in the dark.) Nicely set the rules for bedtime in the new bed such as no wandering after bedtime, stay put, and close your eyes.
Trouble Looming Ahead
Be aware that no matter how much you repeat the rules, you may still find yourself faced with some new found issues. An open bed tempts little ones with freedom and the ability to get in and out of bed easily. The solution to wandering at night can range from a few gentle reminders to an all-out battle of the wills. Your child may develop a new fear of the strange region under the bed or may climb into his crib as soon as the rest of the house is in bed for the night.
Wandering at Night
The freedom that comes with a real bed can be too much temptation for many children. If you find you are confronted with a late roamer, gently remind him that he needs to stay in his bed, just like everyone else in the house. After a few nights of your consistent reminders, he may surprise you and actually stay put! However, if your child is strong-willed, you may need to start removing privilages during the day. Remind your child that the privilages are being removed because he would not stay in his bed all night. If that still does not work, you may want to ask your child what would motivate him to stay in the bed. Maybe he is bored and you can offer a basket of small toys he can play with in his bed until he falls asleep. Or maybe he is lonely and you can buy him a new bed buddy to cuddle with. If your child tends to get into dangerous situations while wandering, you may want to get a baby monitor so you can be aware of the times he is exiting his bed. A baby gate can also be placed in the doorway to deter wandering. Please make sure the blockade you use does not pose a fire hazard.
The Thing Under the Bed
Your child may discover the dark area directly under his bed that he does not care for one bit. There are many creative ways to solve the 'monster under the bed' problem. First, get a nightlight so your child is not in the complete dark. Next, do a bed check every night before bed and let your child look too. That way both of you will know there are no monsters under there. You can place large toys under the bed for storage and explain that there is no way anything could fit under the bed with so many toys in the way. Sometimes simple reasoning is all that is required. Some parents have even gone so far as to purchase an air freshener and renamed it Monster Spray. The room gets spritzed every night and it keeps the monsters at bay.
Your child may still have a strong attachment to his crib. For example, every morning you wake up and go in to wake up your child, he is never is his bed. Sometime throughout the night he climbs back in his crib and falls asleep. This is a pretty good sign your little one just is not ready for the big move yet. Mention to your child that you have noticed he winds up in the crib every night. Ask your child where he would prefer to sleep and honor his decision. Trust me, your child will not be taking his crib to his dorm room. He simply needs a little more time right now. You may even find in a few days that he is ready for the move. Some kids like to do things in their own time, no outside influences allowed.