So you are taking the big leap of transitioning your toddler to a bed. It is all a bit daunting and you want to make sure you have thought it through. No matter what method you use to coach your child to sleep in their new sleep space, there are things to consider when transitioning to a toddler bed. Here is a list of questions to help you think through your situation and guide you through toddler bed considerations, as you make your sleep plan.
Questions for Parents to Discuss:
- Are all the caretakers in agreement and on the same page with transitioning to the new sleep location?
- Are you traveling within the next 6-weeks where the sleeping arrangement will require bed sharing or room sharing? Maybe consider starting upon your return.
- Will this transition be done with both parents involved or will one parent need to do it solo due to other obligations like work travel or evening commitments?
- Do you have a plan not only for bedtime but also for naps if your toddler has been taking naps in the crib?
- What is your ultimate goal with your child’s sleep? Where do we want them to sleep? Who do you want to be able to put your child to sleep?
- Are there possible calendar issues – travel, guests, holiday celebrations or work deadlines?
- Who will be the primary lead with the sleep coaching?
- Do you have the green light from child’s doctor to transition to a big bed?
- What is your plan with regards to teething pain? What will you do to comfort with night teething pain if it happens in the middle of sleep coaching?
- What things need to be adjusted in the sleeping environment to ensure the room is safe for your toddler? Read How To Set-Up A Safe Toddler Sleep Environment, for a list of things to consider.
- What is a realistic start date?
- If you have more than one child, do you have a plan for integrating the bedtime routines together or will each parent do bedtime with each child separately?
- Is bedtime at an appropriate time with regards to nap placement and making sure they are getting enough sleep in a 24-hour period?
- Do you have a bedtime routine that is a maximum of 40 minutes that you do in the same order and same fashion every night?
- Have you written out your evening schedule so that both parents are aware of when the bedtime routine should start?
- Do they have a lovey and is it child-safe? No buttons or removable choke hazards?
- If you are going to use a pillow, do you have doctor’s permission to use a small pillow?
- Are you going to use white noise? If so, can you locate it in a place where your toddler cannot play with it?
- Is bath going to be a part of the bedtime routine? If so, then what will the routine look like on nights you skip the bath?
- Are there items in the room that will cause distraction or too much temptation to get out of bed?
- Will siblings be sharing a room? If they are not going to bed at the same time, have you figured out how to do a bedtime routine for the one going down last, which will not wake the toddler who is already asleep?
- What time is an acceptable morning wake time for your toddler to start the day?
- If your toddler has a snack during the bedtime routine, when will they brush their teeth? Do you leave the bedroom to brush their teeth? Does this lead to difficult behavior by your toddler in an effort to delay going to bed? Can you change the order of the routine? Is it possible to offer the snack before starting the bedtime routine?
- Are you picking books to read that might be too intellectually stimulating at bedtime? Should those books be reserved for after the afternoon nap?
- Lastly, and most important: What method are you going to use to coach your child to sleep independently in the new bed?
If you are wondering if this is the right time for your child emotionally or developmentally to move to a big bed, read my blog called: The Big Question: When to Transition To The Toddler Bed? There are reasons to wait and reasons to make the transition now. If you are making this transition because you have a gymnast crib-climber and it has become an issue of safety, take a quick look at my blog on Toddler Climbing Out Crib Prevention Tips to see if maybe you can keep them in the crib a little longer.
If you have decided that yes, in fact, it is the right time to transition to a big kid bed then I recommended you take a look at Good Night Sleep Tight, Gentle Proven Solutions To Help Your Child Sleep Well And Wake Up Happy by Kim West with Joanne Kenen. The method is called the “Shuffle” and it is an excellent approach to coaching your toddler to sleeping in the new bed. The book provides step-by-step instructions and the chapters are broken out by age so you can read about how the method works with the specific age of your child. I have used the Shuffle in my practice for years with my clients who are coaching their toddlers to sleep in their new big bed. I have many happy parents and peaceful sleeping toddlers after using this method. You can download this book from my website.
If you are looking for support on how to improve your baby’s sleep, twice a month Sleep Talking Tuesdays: FREE Q & A Sleep Support. On the Sugar Night Night calendar, you can find information when this Q & A will be offered next or you can request a 30-Minute phone consultation with Jen Varela.