- What age should you move to a big kid bed from a crib
- How to best handle the big kid bed transition
- What tricks are there to keep a baby in their crib when they jump out
- Signs they are ready for a big kid bed
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
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Welcome to the kids sleep Show podcast where we dive into the magical world of sleep, and all things parenting. Join us as we embark on a journey filled with expert advice, practical tips and heartwarming stories that will transform your little ones into sleep superheroes, and empower you to navigate the beautiful chaos of parenting. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. And I’m on a mission to change how the world view sleep and provide accessible sleep coaching resources for all families to build healthy sleep habits in their home for children, and adults of all ages. As an award winning speaker, author and pediatric sleep expert, myself and my team of consultants work intimately with families around the world to teach healthy sleep habits to children and adults. I believe wholeheartedly that sleep is the foundation for which a happy home is built. So let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, I’m Courtney Zentz, the founder of tiny transitions and the creator of the sleep Steps program. I’m excited today to talk to you all about the signs, your baby might be ready to move from a crib to a toddler bed. And I’m also going to tell you when you should not move a baby from a crib to a toddler bed, because it can really only make your child’s sleep struggles worse. So let’s dive in and talk about age appropriate. And when a baby is actually ready to understand the freedom that comes and safety that comes with a toddler bed. I have children anywhere between 18 months and four years of age, which is a big window, transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed. And there are various reasons why. So first and foremost, a child has to show one signs of readiness, that they can manage the fact that they are in their own space, that they are able to stay in that new space and not make 47 visits to your bedroom overnight. Right. And from a safety perspective that they understand, you don’t want a child roaming around the house at two o’clock in the morning if you’re sleeping. So children as young as 18 months though, which is really young can transition to a toddler bed. But that’s more for safety reasons, you have some children that are super climbers. And if it’s going to be a safety hazard that they are in that crib, and they have learned to climb out of that crib, and they are jumping and could potentially hurt themselves, then yes, they’re ready. And we need to work together here to get them staying in that bed overnight, settling independently to sleep and sleeping soundly throughout the night, without the fear or worry that they’re gonna get out and start roaming around the house or start yelling and crying for you to come in and support them in some capacity. Now, we’re going to talk about what that looks like. Because at 18 months, there are some things you should try first, if your child is starting to climb out of the crib, but you know, either you’re not comfortable or you’re not ready to move them to a toddler bed. The first thing you want to look at is making sure that the crib mattress is all the way on its lowest setting. So you can adjust the height of a crib, all the way down, and many can actually go to the floor. I’ll tell you with our children being a baby sleep coach, I was like I am not ready to do anything here. But keep this child in a crib. And I’ll let you in on a secret. Both my kids were in cribs till they were at least four years old. They never showed signs they wanted to get out they were happy and content in there. And it wasn’t basically until they were ready to get on that kindergarten school bus that we moved them over to a big kid bed. Now, that being said, if they’re 18 months, and they’re starting to jump out, we have to get this situation under control, you can move the crib mattress all the way to the floor, so long as there’s no gap between the bottom of the crib and the mattress, because there’s a potential that a little limb can get stuck there. So you have to make sure that there’s no gap that there’s a seamless kind of space between the bottom of the crib. And where that mattress falls, our mattress didn’t have a great setting for the floor and the mattress and the bottom of the crib there was a gap. So my husband just drilled four new holes and moved the brackets down to the bottom of the crib. And it was perfect. So he measured it. So it was its lowest setting. We basically had an electric drill, which most families have, and we were able to move and adjust the settings to make sure it was safe, but also to make sure that it was on the lowest setting possible things that we didn’t know to look for when we were putting a crib on our baby registry. So once you have adjusted the crib all the way down to the bottom. You can also try something like a wearable blanket, a halo wearable blanket. Baby Merlyn dream sack is a great wearable blanket, right because the As blankets they slide. So if a child tries to climb,
whereas maybe they weren’t able to get out with bare feet, but now they have a wearable blanket on, they don’t necessarily have the ability to get out anymore. And some kids, as they get older have the ability to zipper or unzipper, those, you can turn them backwards so that they can adjust the zipper, take it out and then climb out. Now I do talk, sometimes with families who I do the private sleep coaching with, and they’re really against getting out of the crib, they don’t want to go and do that. And they’re also trying to figure out what other options they have, sometimes the back of the crib, can actually be taller. So if you have a crib that has, you know, some accent piece, kind of on the back end of it, some wood detailing, things like that, you can actually flip the crib around. And you can see if that prohibits your child from like, kind of being able to climb out because now there’s this little bit of a higher, you know, gap to be able to get out, you know, they’re not able to climb over in that way. Right. So you want sort of go through that checklist. First, your cribs on the lowest setting your child in a sleep sack, right? Flipping the crib around is a great option as well. Now, if your child is still managing to Houdini themselves out of the crib, whether it’s 18 months, 24 months, right, you have to make sure that you’re prepared for what that means, okay. In this situation, we do advise that your child either go to a toddler bed, which is like a convertible crib on the floor, right where it still has a little bit of a railing, but they do have freedom get in and out. Or you take them straight to a twin or a full size bed. And actually, a lot of time when kids go right to that they won’t get out in the middle of the night because there’s a little bit of a drop. But you have to also be careful, I would not advise doing that for an 18 month old. But if you have a two and a half year old, that’s moving from a crib to a toddler bed, then yes, for sure. If you are going to put a child at 18 months into a full size bed, you just want to make sure you buy the crib rails, right, they’ll go all the way around the bed and protect them from rolling out you don’t want anybody going blank in the night and hitting their little noggins because they fell out of bed. Another great hack for that is to actually take pool noodles, and you can put them underneath the mattress under the sheet and kind of create these little bumpers in the bed as a little bit of a quick option. And when you’re traveling, if you don’t have bumpers, because nobody’s traveling with bumpers, you can actually just ask for extra sheets from the hotel front office, you know, and the maids will bring up the extra sheets and you can roll them and create bumpers using those, I actually still do that with my kids. And they’re seven years old and nine years old, when we stayed a hotel, so they stay on each other’s side of the queen bed. And they’re not kicking each other all night. I’m not someone who likes to be touched when I sleep. So I do that if I ever should share a bed with my daughter, if we’re like at a dance contest or something and we only have one bed, I put that baby right down the middle like don’t touch me, you know. So that can be a helpful hack as well. Okay, so if your child is moving to a bed, or a full size bed, right, a toddler bed or full size bed, you also want to look at investing in a baby gate, I’m sure you probably have one laying around the house. And I would actually put it on the door. Okay, here’s why. The last thing I want is a baby who’s 18 months old, getting out of their toddler bed, and then they’re going to come visit you in the middle of the night. But you know what they decide they’re going to take a check over at the stairs, and they fall down the stairs, right. So we want to protect from a safety standpoint that a child has access to things that might be dangerous, we always want to make sure all of our furniture is bolted to the wall. They do make furniture because you never know who’s going to start climbing things at two o’clock in the morning. Okay, so all of the safety measures need to be in place in a bedroom, you want to make sure that all of the like the dressers, anything that could potentially toppled is secured to the wall, okay, then you want to put a baby gate at the door so that way if they do have to get up or they are calling for you, they have the ability to do so either through the monitor or by standing at the gate saying hey mom, like I gotta go to the potty, right? But they’re not able to freely move around the house, which can be very, very, very, you know, nerve racking as a parent, like I wouldn’t sleep well wondering if my child’s up doing something they shouldn’t be or eating something they shouldn’t. At two o’clock in the morning, I had a client’s once that went to a toddler bed, excuse me. And a few months later, the child got into the medicine cabinet which had a security door thing on it. The kid was able to open it. And then he climbed up to the top where they had all the medicine. He got a chair climbed up and got all of the medicine and started taking. chewable medicine ended up having to go to the hospital because he had access to it. They’re sweet. He liked the taste. And he wanted that what he thought was candy and they ended up having to take them to the stomach and fun fact she’s a doctor so she knew all of the things to keep him out of that closet which was the door We’re handle and putting things on the top shelf. And he still managed to Houdini himself up there because he had will, he wanted that candy. Right. And to him, it was candy to us, it’s medicine. And it was very dangerous, right. And he ended up having to have a stomach pump. So there are very real things that can happen. Right? I just saw on the news this week, a little three year old, went down at three o’clock in the morning and opened all the Christmas presents for the family. And the parents woke up to all the Christmas presents being open. So, you know, certainly a shock on Christmas morning. But, you know, you just want to protect yourself, like children can get into things in the middle of the night, you have no idea because you’re soundly sleeping. Okay. So when age would you voluntarily move a child over to a toddler bed, when they show signs of readiness by either again, jumping out and it becomes a safety hazard, we’ve got that one covered right there asking for it and have met the requirements that I as a sleep coach would put in place, right? The ability to sleep independently, the ability to stay in bed all night, the awareness to be able to get up to go to the restroom, if they’re potty training and to get back to bed without needing support or help if they’re out of overnight pull ups, right? So there’s a lot of things that you have to really take into consideration. I have a lot of clients who will say, Oh, well, we’re having another baby. So we’re gonna move this baby over to a toddler bed. So we can use the crib for that baby, do not do that. Spend the 100 bucks, get the crib, you will thank me later. Here’s why. Because if your child’s not ready, and you move in too soon, now you’ve got the anxiety of a new baby coming asleep progression with your toddler, a newborn that doesn’t sleep. And two of you trying to tackle the kids back and forth as to which one’s waking, right? It just creates a mess. There’s save yourself the headache, and buy we bought like a basic crib for number two, it was safe. It was perfect. It came shipped right from Amazon. And it was lovely. You know, the first one, we went to the store and got all the perfect things right to each their own. But get yourself a second crib. Don’t rush things just for the sake of saving a couple bucks in order to put that child in a toddler bed too soon, if they’re not ready, especially if they’re not sleeping through the night because you’re opening the door to way more sleep issues. Okay. The next thing you want to look at is, again, the ability to stay in bed, right? I have worked with families who’ve hired me that already have moved a child out of a crib. So their 24 month old is in a toddler bed and they’re not staying there, right? When you hit 18 to 24 months, you have to make sure you understand you are not sleep training a baby. You are past that. You’re not going to do stay in the room, or the shuffle or the Ferber method that doesn’t work. They’re now a toddler. Between 18 and 24 months your child transforms from this amazing little infant into a toddler right now, they may not totally look it yet. But believe me, they’re very intelligent. And so you’re no longer sleep training. They know how to sleep. It is behavior modification, right? Because if your toddler at 24 months come scooting into your bedroom every night and you let them into your bed.
Why would they stop waking? If you’re gonna let them into the bed? It’s a reward. Right? I just worked with the past family the other night. The other night we were talking hadn’t worked with them in about two years. They said everything’s been great since we hired you as our baby sleep coach. And now we’re at a toddler and this kid has now we can at 5am He’s coming into play with Daddy Daddy wants to get another sleep. So he turns the TV on, they cuddle. He sleeps the baby watches TV at two years old, right? Five o’clock in the morning. I’m like, Ah, yes. So one, you’re rewarding the behavior by letting them watch TV at five o’clock in the morning to you’re allowing them in your bed. So you’re breaking that boundary, right? Like I mean, it just went on and on and on. Right? So you can’t do that kind of stuff. Right? My son one morning woke up and he’s like, Can we watch whatever Coco melon at the time and I was like, no, no TV till after breakfast, right? So it quickly kibosh that desire to wake up and do something right. I’ve had plenty of sleep clients that just want to get better sleep with their toddler. So they give the kids iPads. And they tell the kids when they wake up that they can watch the iPads so mommy and daddy can sleep in? Well, the problem with that is your kid’s going to start getting up at four o’clock in the morning to watch the iPad because it’s addictive. And they know they can do it. And then for two hours before you’re even aware, your kids already zoned out in YouTube land, right? You don’t want to do that you’re rewarding and incentivizing a child to wake up early. Okay? So you’ve got to kind of balance their readiness and their sleep hygiene. If your child settles independently at bedtime and sleeps through the night, and does not wake up for you to come in and just say hi to replug the nightlight in to tuck them in to find their Boppy right. Those are all behavior things that can lead to a sleep progression between 18 months and three years Right. And so by moving a kid too early, you can all Often then have a sleep regression because now they’re waking, you’re so tired, you just do whatever the thing is, sometimes it’s playing, sometimes it’s letting him in your room like, and it starts to create all these other habits or problems that you end up having to hire us for. Right? Most of the time, after 18 months, it’s behavior, right? We’re incentivizing things, we’re doing things to sleep, that a child then begins to start to prefer. Okay, so you want to make sure you’re not moving your child too soon, just to save a little bit of money on the baby coming, or just because you’re excited to hit that next developmental leap. Like, yay, they’re in a toddler bed, because it can open up a whole big issue of keeping your child in there. Right. I had a client at 16 months who did not tell me that their child was already in a toddler bed, and they were living Montessori family style. And so what we had to do was, that’s fine, like you hired me, I can work with this. But you as a parent have to have expectations of your child’s cognitive ability to understand what we’re doing, right. And if they don’t, they should probably stay in a crib. Okay. So it’s, it’s just about understanding where your child is, and not rushing the leaps. Right now, again, if your child is really, really big, I didn’t have that problem with my kids, they were very short. My daughter is still seven years old and weighs about 40 pounds, right? I’ve just have tiny little children so they could stay in their crib. Some kids are not like that my best friend’s son was like 19 feet tall when he was 18 months old, right? There’s situations every kid is different. But you just have to set yourself up for success with the right environment, if they’re going a little younger, get a gate for the door, right? I never advise locking a child in a room ever, ever, ever. It’s inappropriate and not necessary. Okay, get a baby gate, put it at the door that keeps them safely in their room, you know that all their furniture is secured, they can’t get into trouble. And when they need you, they can call you you have the monitor or if their doors open with a baby and on it, you’ll be able to hear them. Okay? You want to also then look at readiness. Get that crib safely, you know, sorted on the ground, make sure they’re not jumping out, make sure you know if they are ready. They’re involved in the process. You can pick out your sheets, you can pick out your pillow, right, like have some ownership equity, in what you’re doing for them. Don’t just be like, hey, all of a sudden your Rainbow Room is ready and they hate rainbows. Right? You’ve got to make sure that your child has some buy into this. And then there is a balance of using things like incentives and rewards, right? Every night that you go to bed independently and sleep through the night you get to put a pom pom in the jar when the pom pom jar is filled. We’ll go for ice cream as a family, right? There’s nothing wrong with that, right kids like positive reinforcement. Okay. And if you choose to get up, we’re going to pull pom pom out of the drawer, okay boundaries, set a boundary, the expectation is you stay in your bed. The consequence if you don’t is that I pull a pom pom out and after, you know so many like there’s got to be aspects of this that again, shift behavior through positive parenting tactics and setting firm boundaries that you’re willing to stick to with appropriate consequences based on the age, right. Because again, you’re not sleep training a toddler, it is behavior modification and a lot of time that behavior manifests in the daytime first, okay? When we work with families doing toddler sleep coaching, we actually start with the daytime behaviors and then move into sleep because it’s almost equally correlated. And I can pinpoint what your child is doing in the day and mimic those behaviors overnight. So if we can kibosh it in the day, it makes the bedtime sleep training just so much easier, which we’re always happy to chat about here, if you’re struggling with your little one who is not staying in bed all night. So between 18 months and three years of age is when they’re going to have that readiness. Don’t rush it, make sure they’re in a safe environment, make sure that you’ve got the appropriate kind of checklist done for all the different ages and stages. And then make sure you reach out to us here at Tiny transitions if you need help if you’re interested in hiring a toddler sleep coach. And there are three ways that families engage with us here at Tiny transitions to get help and support. First, our sleep steps course. It’s a self paced sleep training program for children zero through four years of age. That includes coaching in our sleep steps community and optional weekly phone calls for just a little bit more every single month, and it’s affordable, effective sleep coaching, like no one else is doing it today. Second, phone consultations. These are mini consultations. If you’re dealing with short naps, early morning wakings trouble at bedtime. That’s a great way to set up a 30 or 60 minute call with myself or one of our sleep consultants and chat through your issue or private coaching. Some families want the coaching. They need the help and support and we’re here to provide it through you. And we have so many amazing folks on our team that have specialty in toddlers, ADHD and autism twins, lactation, car seat safety, in addition to being pediatric sleep consultants and several on the team that are also adult certified. And we have a consultant Liz who speaks Spanish as well and rallyin who speaks Arabic so we’re covering all areas here of family sleep and we want to bring good sleep habits to you so be sure to subscribe below. Be sure to follow and we’re here to help you every single week with new sleep tips and support from the tiny transitions team. Bye for now. One more thing before you go, did you know that we offer the industry’s first affordable and effective, self paced sleep coaching program that includes time with a pediatric sleep expert here on the tiny transitions team. It’s the industry’s first and only membership program like this, that you can cancel anytime and the best part. It’s cheaper than a cup of coffee every single day. So say goodbye to the ebooks and courses that are not helping your child sleep better. And join sleep steps today. The most comprehensive sleep education you need to get everyone sleeping through the night. Learn more by visiting tiny transitions.com