He’s not jumping out out of the crib yet…or maybe he is. But is he mature enough for a bed?
I am currently the proud owner of three cribs and three Pack n’ Plays.
(That’s the great thing about having twins first — you have way too much of everything!)
Two of my cribs are full-sized and have been the sleeping place of my twins since they were about 4 months old. The third one is a mini-crib that holds my too-big taby (that’s a kid who’s not quite a baby anymore and not yet a toddler) all night + for long naps.
And, since I absolutely categorically refuse to purchase another full-sized crib, that is where he will stay until my girls are ready for beds.
…er… until I’m ready for my girls to be in beds.
Because, in all honesty, my girls could stay in cribs until age 5 for all I care—they don’t climb out, they love their cribs, and they still fit just fine, thank you very much.
But, I know that that’s not the case for all kids—some little toddlers master the sport of Crib Jumping before their second birthdays, or seem to abhor their cribs, or just aren’t great sleepers to begin with. So some mothers start thinking about beds when their toddlers are still more tabies than toddlers – Will moving him to a bed help? Is it safe to switch her yet? How do I know if he’s ready?
And while, of course, every child is different, there are some pretty good general guidelines that you can use for every single child.
First things first: prevent it!
Yes, you CAN prevent your child from becoming a crib jumper (there’s no Olympic sport for it anyway, so you don’t have to worry about him missing out on his chance for fame and fortune)… but you’re going to have to plan a little bit in advance.
If your kiddo’s already started jumping out of his crib, it may already be a lost cause (but don’t throw in the towel yet! I’ve got some tips for you below). But if you’re just reading this article because you like to know random stuff (can we be friends? I’m like that too), and your baby is still a baby and still sleeping well in his crib, then NOW is the time to take action.
I call it a sleep sack.
Your baby calls it “Oooh this is cozy and cuddly and I like this.”
But your toddler would call it, “What is this crazy thing that makes me not be able to jump out of my crib?!? I want it OFF!” (And that’s why if your toddler’s already jumping out this probably won’t work for you.)
Introducing a sleep sack from when your baby is a wee lil’ one will not only keep him warm the whole night without you worrying about the blanket falling off, and create a SIDS-safe environment, but it’ll also keep him from even being capable of jumping out of his crib if he would decide to give it a go when he’s old enough.
OK, so my kid is jumping out of his crib and wasn’t in a sleep sack – can I put him in a bed now?
Haaaang on just a second there—let’s talk about what your toddler is capable of and what he’s not capable of and how we can best set him up for success.
The great thing about cribs is that (so long as your kiddo isn’t a jumper), your child can’t get out. That means that your baby, who’s not capable of chapping that he needs to be careful of the edge of the bed, won’t fall off. Good.
But that also means that your curious little scientist of a toddler, who loves exploring and has a severely underdeveloped prefrontal cortex (that’s the part that makes rational decisions—it’s not fully developed till about 25) will be in a safe environment—where she can’t go explore the knife block on the countertop, or discover the sucking candies in the pantry while everyone is asleep.
And yes, I’m serious about that.
Because in order to stay in a bed that doesn’t physically keep her in it is going to require some self-control, a deeper understanding of cause and effect (if I come out of my bed, Mommy will X), and, yes, a level of rational decision making.
So when IS it okay to put my toddler into a bed?
Great question! And I’m going to give you my favorite answer of all time: it depends. It depends on your kid’s personality and maturity.
Your toddler is ready for a bed when he’s mentally capable of staying in the bed the whole night long. For most kids, that’s somewhere around their 3rd birthday, though girls tend to be ready a little earlier than boys (yes, really.)
That’s nice in theory, Chaya Shifra, but my kid has been jumping out of his bed, so clearly he is NOT capable of staying in a bed… now what?
Fear not, my dear! I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve to help you solve this.
Option #1: Take out the mattress support, and put the mattress on the floor in the crib. This will only work if your crib sides are the full height of the crib—if your kiddo will be able roll out between the bottom of the crib slats and the top of the mattress… #nogood. The idea of this is that there’s more height between his standing surface (mattress) and the jumping bar (top of crib), so it’ll be harder for him to get out.
Option #2: Turn the crib around. If one side of your crib is higher than the other, make the higher side face you rather than the wall. I’ve had clients see great success from this.
Option #3: Build ‘er up! Ok so this one is slightly crazy, and I’ve never actually tried it or recommended it to a client, so I don’t have all the deets for you, but I had one of my listeners on Akeres Habayis tell me that she used lattice and zip ties from Home Depot to make the top of the crib higher than it actually was. (I’ll be totally honest—I’m not sure how she got the kid in or out… unless it was against the wall? Not sure about this one.
Option #4: You can always try a sleep sack…
But what if my toddler really IS ready for a bed?
Stay tuned for How to Transition Your Toddler Into A Bed… coming to a website near you soon!