A crib keeps your baby safe when they are asleep or playing. It also keeps them from wandering around the house and getting into places they shouldn't be. However, your child will eventually outgrow their crib and start climbing. When the time comes to move your baby from their crib to a bed, it's important to know the right steps to follow.
When Should Babies Start Sleeping in a Bed?
The best time to move your baby from the crib to a bed will depend entirely on them. However, the earliest time that doctors recommend the transition is 18 months old. The latest is at four years.
Here are some of the signs your toddler is ready to move to a bed:
- Too big for a crib: If your baby’s feet and head can touch both ends, they might need a bed of their own.
- Climbing in or out of the crib: The previously safe crib could become dangerous if your child can climb over the rails. Accidents like falling onto the floor can happen if they stay in a small crib any longer.
- Potty training: A child who is not using diapers will need access to the toilet. Sleeping in a bed will allow for easier access to and from the bathroom at night.
- Another baby needs the crib: If you are expecting a new baby and your older child is at least two years old, they may need to move on from the crib. If they are younger, however, consider getting a bassinet or co-sleeper for the newborn.
How to Choose a Bed for Your Toddler
After establishing that your baby is ready to move to a bed, you must decide which type of bed will be best. Parents can choose between the following setups:
Toddler bed. Toddler beds are designed at a low height to minimize the risk of injury from falls. Another advantage of this option is that you can use the same bedding and mattress from your child's crib.
Floor mattress. These products are a good option for your child since no heights are involved. However, you should place the mattress away from the wall to prevent trapping the baby between the wall and mattress.
Adult bed. If you decide to move your child to an adult bed, find a way to protect them from falling out. Get rid of any cords or soft objects on the bed to minimize the risk of suffocation. Make sure the bed does not have spaces where the baby’s limbs or head can get trapped.
To further protect your child from injury from falls, use soft materials like carpets and rugs on the bedroom floor. Consider also keeping furniture and hard toys away from the bed.
Tips for Moving Your Baby From Crib to Bed
Changes like transitioning to a bed are big for your baby. If not done right, moving beds can cause stress for both of you. Here are some ways that you can prepare yourselves for the move:
- Child-proofing: Before moving your baby into their new bed, remove any unnecessary or dangerous objects.
- Make the transition slowly: Don't make the change in a single day. Before making the permanent move, consider allowing your child to sleep on their new mattress during naps, so they can start getting used to it.
- Wait for the right time: To make the transition less overwhelming for your child, avoid making the transition while other big changes are taking place, like teething or learning to walk.
- Let your child make some decisions: Letting your kid choose some bedding or a stuffed animal to use in the new bed can make them comfortable and confident in their space.
- Continue with the bedtime routine: Changing beds should not be a reason to change the bedtime routine. Keeping the routine can help create some familiarity amongst big changes.
- Be patient: After moving to a new bed, your child will more likely want to explore the bedroom instead of going straight to sleep. Set some rules or consider getting a baby gate for their door.
- Praise your child: As a reward, give praise to your child for behaving well during bedtime.
Your child’s safety should be at the top of your mind when moving them to a new bed. Other than some safety precautions mentioned earlier, you can also do the following for added safety:
- Choose a bed that allows you to fit guardrails on it.
- Never place your baby’s bed under a window.
- Use a baby monitor or bell to know when your baby gets out of bed.
- Avoid using pillows if the child is below two years old. When they get to this age, you can begin with small, firm pillows.
- Do not use a raised bed.
- If you have a staircase, consider using safety gates.
- Keep away harmful substances like medicines, cleaning products, cosmetic products, and other small things that a child is likely to swallow.