About a month ago, I went to tuck in my 5-year-old son and realized two things. One, he was taking up way more room in his toddler bed than I remembered, and two, his bed was touching the floor in a deep “V” shape. He’d completely destroyed the bed frame from jumping on it so much (insert face palm). Despite my husband’s multiple attempts to push everything back into its correct shape, we were officially left with a choice to purchase a new frame or to finally transition him into a big kid bed.
My husband and I had some of the same concerns with the transition. First, we didn’t want to mess with our hard-won sleep schedule. We did not want any changes to put us back on a rollercoaster of sleepless nights.
Additionally, transitioning to a full-size bed without bumpers was also a safety concern. My son is an extremely heavy sleeper and we were worried about him falling out of the bed. And, finally, would our son be OK with such a big transition?
To help appease our safety worries, I actually laid in his bed myself and saw how close he would be to the floor. We solved that issue by putting a large king-sized pillow on either side of the bed to make the floor a soft landing if he managed to fall over the edge.
As for the other concerns, after consulting with my mom friends and doing a quick Google search for tips, we were able to come up with a foolproof plan that made the transition not only easy, but fun for all of us.
If your child is old enough to sleep comfortably and safely in a big kid bed, it may be time to retire their toddler bed. Here are a few ways to make the transition to a big kid bed easier.
1. Give them some choices
After many of us spent countless hours picking out matching decor for our child’s room, it can be a little scary to hand over the reins to a very fickle kid. But giving them some power and choices through the transition can make a big difference.
If you have enough saved to purchase new bedding of their choice, it can be a fun way to make your child motivated for the change. Take them into your favorite store and show them all the options from dinosaurs to unicorns to their favorite television show character on comforters, sheets, and pillowcases. Allowing your child some autonomy in this important step in their lives can make the experience a little less scary, and a whole lot more fun.
2. They may be out of the baby bed, but you should still take baby steps
If it is possible, try not to switch your child’s toddler bed into a big kid bed while they aren’t there—where they are at school or out with their grandparents. Without enough warning, kids can find change to be a tough adjustment so try to give them time to prepare and build up excitement about the change.
For children (and adults, too!), consistency helps them feel safe and secure. So when making such a large and exciting change, it can be beneficial to introduce them to the idea in plenty of time. You can start by showing them pictures of big kid rooms on your phone, print out room designs you both look up on Pinterest, or even reading books that talk about transitioning into big kid beds.
This story thoughtfully addresses some of the familiar worries little ones may have when transitioning to a big kid bed like feeling safe and being brave.
3. Let your child help with the move and build, if possible
If there’s one thing that makes kids excited, it’s allowing them to help hands on. By the time our son’s new mattress arrived in the mail in a refrigerator-sized box, he was bursting with excitement to set up his new room. We built up the anticipation by showing hime the mattress we purchased online and watching a video of how it would expand out of the box. After that, he asked every day for a week if the mailman had brought his new bed to our house.
Next, since we had purchased a 4-in-1 crib when he was a baby, we now needed to take everything apart and put it together to make it full size. We made sure to explain the process and show our son the instructions for his bed, as well as the tools and screws we would need to use to put everything together. We encouraged him to help tighten screws, and hold pieces in place, as we listened to music and celebrated how he was now such a big boy. By the time everything was put together, made with his new blue sheets, and dinosaur pillowcase, he was begging for bedtime.