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I think that transitioning your child from a crib to a toddler bed is one of the most terrifying milestones for parents. It's right up there with your child driving for the first time, or going off to college.
You take your sweet baby from their safe and confined environment, and throw them into a space where they have the freedom to roam and "F" stuff up. It truly is one of the most anxiety filled milestones that I've gone through as a parent so far. It probably doesn't help that my child is a tiny evil genius, destined to test my parenting skills at every turn...
Somehow, through all of the madness, we managed to transition Olivia from a crib to a toddler bed without any issues in 7 days! Keep in mind, results might vary, but if my psychotic little ninja can do it, I'm sure yours can too!
Here is how we did it!
1. Check the room and remove anything your child could possibly use to harm themselves.
Maybe this only applies to my kiddo, but the first thing I thought about when considering transitioning her to a toddler bed was "Lord help me, she'll injure herself in the middle of the night with something...", so I went through her closet and dresser to make sure there wasn't anything questionable that she could find and potentially hurt herself with. We opted for a bulb-less nightlight and secured her dresser to the wall using furniture straps. This really put my mind at ease. I'm sure she could still find a way to get into trouble, but at least I can sleep easy knowing she won't get hurt! Click the link below to check out the furniture straps I used!
2. Keep your bedtime routine the same.
Because going from a crib to a toddler bed is a big change, make sure to keep everything else about your bedtime routine the same! No need to give your kiddo anything to be confused about! This is super important, especially if you have an anxious child who doesn't like change! Check out the toddler bed we bought for Olivia here:
3. Put a baby gate up right outside their door
I knew that if Olivia wasn't confined to her room, she'd spend the nights running around our upstairs finding trouble, or she'd wake us up 30 times a night. Keeping her door closed wasn't an option because she knows how to open it. We used a baby gate right outside her room and it worked like a charm! She has the freedom to explore her bedroom, but after the initial excitement wears off, she goes right into her bed and falls asleep! See what baby gate we used here:
4. Lay with your kiddo for the first few nights
The first few nights I climbed into the bed with Olivia and helped her get cozy. I tucked her in tight and showed her how to lay in the bed. I'd stay with her until I felt like she was about to doze off. While she was tired but still awake, I'd sneak out quietly. The first two or three nights she'd get out of bed and cry for 10 to 15 minutes at the doorway of her room, but after she got used to it, she'd go right back to bed and fall asleep. We swear by this Baby Einstein sound soother to help Olivia fall asleep!
5. Don't be afraid of messes or tears
The first night of trying the toddler bed killed me. Olivia got out of bed after I put her down, and pulled every single one of the 100 books she has on her book shelf off and onto the floor. She also cried for about 15 minutes straight. I watched her while crossing my fingers that she would finally go to bed (which she did). Seeing her make a massive mess and cry was hard, but not intervening was worth it, because she ended up soothing herself and going back to bed. The key to success with transitioning to a toddler bed is giving your kiddo the space to figure it out on their own (with a little guidance!).
Check out the bulb-less night lights we use here:
6. The rest is a wrap!
Olivia got the hang of the big girl bed within 3 or 4 days, and by day 7, she totally knew the drill. There are still some nights that she fights bedtime, but she always ends up sleeping in the bed within 20 minutes. We are still working on perfecting nap time in the toddler bed, but night time is a breeze! Once you've followed these steps, treat yourself Mama, You've earned it!