PLUS my tips for transitioning your toddler from a crib mattress to a toddler bed!
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I remember as a new mom I feared the days Jack would grow into an independent, free-roaming, house-destroying toddler. This isn’t to say I wasn’t excited for all of the joy that comes with having a curious toddler such as the excuse to play with legos, and eat cheerios for dinner (who am I kidding, I did both of these things long before having Jack, and well into my adulthood).
No, my fear was for if Jack inherited any of his father’s childhood sleeping habits, Jack would be sleep-walking around the house as soon as he graduated to a toddler bed.
I don’t know about you, but I would have a heart attack if I opened my eyes one night, and my toddler was silently staring back at me. Thank everything this has not happened yet, and perhaps that means Jack takes after his mother more than his father!
How did my tiny baby become a monstrous, two-foot toddler already?
It seems like only yesterday Jack was learning to crawl on our deck in Costa Rica. Those funny (although nerve-wracking) first scoots across the tile floor, are over a year behind us.
Now I have an inquisitive little boy who is not afraid to point and ask “what’s that?” to anything and everything. Repeatedly. I hope he is forever curious and questioning the world with the same childish bewilderment.
While I have yet to dip my toes into the fine art that is potty training (stay tuned for that adventure!), I am happy to report that it only took a couple of nights to have Jack completely transitioned from his crib to his toddler bed!
Tips for a successful transition from crib to toddler bed
1. Invest in a quality mattress
This is number one because your mattress influences the quality of your sleep in more ways than just comfort.
We all know how awful it is to sleep on an uncomfortable mattress. But did you know that what your mattress is made of can affect the quality of your sleep too? Not to mention your overall health (such as your respiratory system)!
And a child’s mattress shouldn’t be overlooked either. Their little bodies are growing every night, and breathing in harsh chemicals for hours a day can be detrimental to their health.
I chose the Naturepedic Breathable 2-Stage Crib Mattress not only because it would fit in both a crib, and eventually a toddler bed, but because it is certified organic to the Global Organic Textile Standard. If you are spending 1/3 of your life on a mattress, why wouldn’t you treat it the same way you do your organic fruits and vegetables?
I also love that it is waterproof.
While I am changing sheets and mattress protector nightly (sometimes more than once), the polyethylene coating protects the mattress from accidents damaging the mattress itself. What’s even better is it is made from non-gmo sugarcane!
I only wish I had this mattress from the first day we brought Jack home from the hospital! It could serve a child from infancy through early childhood without needing to upgrade.
The obvious familiar comforts your child sleeps with will definitely help with the transition. Keeping the same stuffed animal(s), or blanky offers comfort, and security that your child recognizes from their old bed.
But I also realized that the mattress itself offered familiarity with Jack. Why was this helpful? The mattress was already familiar in appearance, size, comfort, and smell- all comforting when you are sleeping in a new environment and don’t understand why.
Because the mattress fits in the toddler bed, I was able to keep all of his bedding, which also aided in the transition as well. He immediately recognized everything inside of the new bed frame. This was such a unique moment to watch him try to figure out how his bed changed into a firetruck while he was at daycare!
“Wow!” was Jack’s first word. And now it is one of his favorites. The look of astonishment when he saw that a bright red firetruck had replaced his crib, was so worth the bedtime headache I often get. I don’t think he has yelled the word louder than the first time he saw his new bed.
I wish I had a magic trick for this. Sadly, I do not.
Routines are tough to maintain, especially for a toddler who likes to make a game out of everything. But trust me, if you don’t start doing the “bedtime routine” at a decent hour, you could be “playing games” late into the evening; much past everyone’s bedtime.
And as much as I love seeing that fluffy, dirty-blonde mop with a bottle dangling out of his mouth, waddle into the living room, cock his head, squint his eyes, and squawk “hi”- it gets a bit tiresome after the 34th time.
I like to start the routine early enough to allow Jack to “explore” without being pressured to go to sleep. He loves to chit chat (in his own babble for the most part still), so I like to let him know that we are getting ready for bed, so he starts practicing our routine on his own.
We go through all of our usual toiletries, and we walk together to his bed. He loves to hold hands, but loves to lead the way, and will even do this with teachers at his daycare when he wants to go to sleep.
He is so independent and really responds to being celebrated for something well done; favorites include high-fives and clapping. If I encourage him to make the decision on his own by walking there by himself, he is much more inclined to stay put, vs if I had carried him around and put him in his bed.
Once he is in bed, I turn on his night-light diffuser, while he picks out a book to read. We snuggle and read a book together, and then we say goodnight.
I really do not think even 15 seconds goes by before he is tiptoeing down the hall to see me. This is where step 4 comes in, and patience is tested!
4. Repetition + Explanation
No matter how frustrating it feels, each time he gets up from bed, I will immediately redirect and walk back to bed with him. All while explaining why we are going back to bed.
If I break the cycle and allow him to stay up with me, or explore another room, he will assume he can dictate his bedtime. Then it becomes a game that is difficult to break.
However, I never want him to feel like it is a punishment or banishment that he is going to bed. Which is why I have not implemented a baby gate. Yet.
I think explaining things as we are doing them really helps to empower him in his decision to go to bed. Even when he has asked me “what’s that” pointing to the same tree outside our window for the 10th time that day, I still explain what something is and what the purpose is.
With bedtime, I explain why he is going to bed. Which is usually that he needs to rest so he can go “back to school” in the morning, and see his friends, teachers, play outside, and have fun. I usually throw in there that he might see a doggy (loves them), or tell him about something he will be doing the next day.
The idea is that he understands he needs to go to sleep and that there is a worth-while reward for doing so. Wishful thinking, I know. Sometimes it doesn’t work, I will admit that. He is two after all.
Sometimes I cave and end up bringing him to bed with me; if it’s just one of those nights. Or I send him back to bed with a bottle (a habit I am also trying to break) and call it a night.
But we try again the next night.
Let’s be clear here.
These are tips to help transition your toddler from a crib to a toddler bed. I never said Jack slept through the night!!!
He is still the disruptive pterodactyl screeching for a baba in the middle of the night. He just hasn’t gotten up at 3:00 am to investigate…yet!
Jack loves cuddling in his bed and reading books, and will often spend time in there on his own accord throughout the day. I love that he will grow into this mattress and that it will support him for a few more years yet.
I hope some of these tips help you in transitioning your own toddler from a crib to a toddler bed. And if you want to learn more about this mattress, or some of the other kids’ mattress (or even their adult mattresses), then please check out Naturepedic on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to give them a like / follow!