This weekend, my family is saying goodbye to the crib for the last time. My youngest is almost 3, and despite his protests about the necessity of a big-boy bed ("I no need new bed, mommy; dis one is perfect," he's told me every day this week), the regularity with which is he now crawling out of that perfect sleeping spot tells me it's time to move on.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the transition is as easy for him as it was for his big sister, who took to her big-girl bed immediately and without incident. However, I've heard many a horror story of kids who've jumped out of their new beds 10, 20, 100 times in the first few nights, and lord knows, I have a little acrobat. The terrifying possibility that soon I might be waking up in the middle of the night only to find a toddler creepily staring at me inches from my face (every parent has been there) is just one of the factors I've considered when deciding when to make this transition.
Here is everything — big and small — you should think about before moving your kid from a crib to a bed.
- Are you prepared for some sleepless days and nights? If you're lucky, your tot will take to his new sleeping space right away, but more likely, you're going to have a few days (weeks?) where the transition means a greatly extended nighttime routine, shorter or interrupted naps, and some middle-of-the-night visits. Choose a time when you're prepared and will be home long enough to allow your child to get fully settled in the new sleeping space.
- What kind of bed makes sense for your child? Are you in a temporary living situation or in your forever home? If it's the former, you might want to start the transition by converting your crib to a toddler bed instead of investing in an expensive piece of furniture that might not fit in a future space. If you're in a more permanent home, consider buying a bed that will give your child room to grow, i.e. a full or queen, extra long twin, or bunk or trundle beds.
- Do you need a side rail? If you're transitioning your child earlier than you'd like because they've crawled out of their crib one too many times, think about finding a bed that will easily accommodate a sturdy side rail. A rail gives a bed (and your kid) boundaries and eliminates your worry about a young toddler rolling out of bed in the middle of the night.
- Have you factored in all the bed necessities in your budget? I had my eye on a stylish, but pricey bed for my son, then I realized that I would also have to purchase a mattress, a water/pee-proof mattress cover, pillows, sheets, pillowcases, a duvet, and a duvet cover. Suddenly, the less expensive bed option was looking a lot more attractive.
- Does your child often want a parent to sleep with him? If you've won the lottery and birthed two bad sleepers like me, you might want to purchase a bed big enough for both you and your child to sleep in because, hey, there's optimism . . . and then there's reality.