Learn safety precautions to take when purchasing toddler bedding.
A big milestone in the life of a young child is the move from a crib to a toddler bed, usually necessitating the purchase of new toddler bedding. One of two things usually indicates a child's readiness to be moved to a toddler bed: the ability to climb out of the crib even when the mattress has been moved to the lowest setting; or if the child has reached three feet in height.
In many cases, a child is transitioned from the crib to a toddler bed because a new baby is on the way. In this instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends completing the transition to a new bed prior to the baby's due date. This allows the child enough time to become comfortable with the new sleeping environment before the sibling is born. The child should view the move to a bed as an indication that he is growing up, not that he is being forced to move because of the new baby.
Other potentially stressful situations, such as potty training or moving to a new daycare provider, should be avoided during the transition to a toddler bed.
The transition to a new bed may be easier if the child is involved in choosing his new bed. Sheets and bedspreads that feature a favorite character, color or pattern also can make it more inviting.
Safety must be paramount, as the child is suddenly going to have more freedom, and more risk of rolling off the bed while sleeping. Toddler-specific bedding that's low to the ground should be considered. A higher bed that will carry the child further into childhood should come with guardrails that are easy to attach.
While bunk beds might be a space saver, particularly if children will share a room eventually, they can be dangerous and aren't recommended for children under six years old.
Toddler bedding should be placed away from windows, not only to protect the child from falling out, but also to keep him away from cords on draperies and blinds. The headboard should be placed against the wall, leaving the sides free for the child to climb in and out of the bed. This will prevent the child from rolling and becoming trapped between the wall and the bed.
The wear and tear on a child's bed from play can sometimes cause the screws to become loose. The frame of the bed should be checked often for stability.
Pediatrics for Parents recommends several different ways to approach the transition. The child's personality, adaptability to change and age should be taken into consideration. One method is to take the crib down, replace it with the new toddler bedding and make the move a special occasion. The child's room can be decorated to coincide with the new toddler bedding. A gradual move is better for some children. The toddler bed can be set up, but the bed is placed in the same location as the crib, allowing the child to see the room from a similar perspective.
Another option allows an even more gradual change for the child, but requires more space in the child's room for both the crib and the new toddler bedding to be set up. The child will continue to sleep in the crib, but the new toddler bed is set up in the room. The child should be encouraged to play on the bed, have books read to them while sitting on the bed, and nap in the bed. This transition works slowly to introduce the child to the idea of sleeping in the bed.
Sleep issues may suddenly appear when making the transition from crib to bed, particularly if the child also is sleeping in a new room. The child may wake up and be frightened by the look of a different room. A nightlight can often help ease these types of fears.
Patience is important when making the transition to toddler bedding. The child may welcome the change one day and be very reluctant to sleep in the bed the next. Established bedtime routines should be kept, and any comfort items such as stuffed animals and blankets should make the move from crib to bed. These items can give the child a feeling of safety and security in his new environment.