Gaining independence at bedtime: transitioning from the crib to a bed

With your child’s newfound emotional, verbal and motor control skills, you’re probably thinking about transitioning from the crib and into a bed.

Here are some useful recommendations from the book What to expect: the toddler years. The authors recommend making the transition after 36 months of age, not earlier, because at this age your son is just starting to understand the more abstract concepts of rules and limits. A indicator for making the change is when your child starts suggesting it.
• When your little one is ready, celebrate the transition.
• Try to position the bed in the same place where the crib used to be.
• Pediatricians recommend that bedtime should be timed about 12 hours after your child wakes up, or about 5 hours after his nap ended.
• Make a fun bedtime routine and talk about it with your toddler. Give him a couple of choices, like choosing whether he should put on pajamas or brush his teeth first.
• Make bedtime a bonding moment in which your son can feel safe and loved.
• Provide him with his blanket, stuffed animals or other comfort items from his crib.
• If your child gets out of bed during the night, hold your ground and return him to bed in a silent and yet consistent manner. It might take some time, but he will get the message.
• Avoid reinforcing last-minutes excuses not to sleep.
• Show him empathy and patience while adjusting to this change.

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