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5 tips to transition kids smoothly into toddler beds

When a child is about two or three years old, the child is usually too big for the crib or infant bed. It is time to move the child into a toddler bed. But, how do you transition children smoothly into toddler beds without causing too much stress for the child and yourself? It can be scary at first for the child to move into her own "big-girl bed" to sleep alone. Leaving your child in a room at night to sleep by herself on a big bed is not always an easy decision either. Here are five tips you can use to make the big transition that much easier.

1. Have a regular bedtime routine

Falling asleep is a habit that all kids learn soon or later. Before you make the big transition into toddler beds, make sure you have a regular bedtime routine already in place, such as dinner first, then a bath, then bedtime story, then kiss and tucking in and finally lights out with a song as you walk away.

Having a regular bedtime routine activates your toddler’s “biological clock” and creates a sense of predictability every night when it is time to sleep. This is the exact same routine you will follow when you finally ease your child into his new toddler bed.

2. Introduce the idea of “big kid’s beds” early

Introduce your child to the concept of “big kid’s beds" well in advance. Pick out other kids with “big kid’s beds" and mention them to your child to excite him about having his own “big kid’s bed.” You can also read books that mention or refer to “big kid's beds” to get your child comfortable with the idea.

3. Let your child pick the bed

Allow your child to pick her own “big girl’s bed,” if at all possible. If you are getting a toddler bed from a friend or relative, point out to your child that she needs Cousin Ruth’s bed because she is almost as big as Cousin Ruth. Also, allow your child to help you move in and unpack the bed when it finally arrives. This can help create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the bed.

4. Make the toddler bed cozy

Make the toddler’s bed as cozy as possible. Make sure you bring as many things from the infant bed as possible into the new toddler's bed, such as blankets and dolls. This can help make your child feel more comfortable in her new bed.

5. Incorporate familiar, soothing music

Most children fall asleep more easily on toddler beds while listening to familiar, soothing music. Consider adding this music on his first night alone. If he doesn’t fall asleep and tries to pull you into a conversation, just tell him you will talk tomorrow. Use a loving but firm tone and stress the words, "It's sleep time now.”

If he cries, comfort him. Tell him he needs to learn to sleep in his new bed because he is a big boy now. Be kind and empathise with him. This is all very new to him. Tell him you will stay close to his bed until he falls asleep and do just that. Over time, your child will get used to his new "big kid's bed" and hopefully grow to love it.

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