by Elizabeth Pantley
When your child moves from crib to bed it's a milestone in his life as well as yours. There is no precise time for making this move, though typically it's between the first and third birthday. The key to success is to be patient and allow your child time to adjust to the change.
If a child sleeps well in his crib, don't rush the change. Switching to a bed gives a child freedom and brings new issues for parents, such as the yo-yo syndrome or early morning wanderings. The most common reasons to switch:
There are a number of options for a child's first bed:
Toddler bed: These are small, low and child-sized. They have guard rails on all sides, and come in playful designs.
Regular bed: A common choice is a mattress, box springs and bed frame (with all sides protected from fall-outs). Consider a double or bigger size to accommodate the night-reading ritual.
Mattress on the floor: A popular choice is a mattress or futon on the floor. This provides your little one with a big-kid bed, but one that prevents any painful falls.
Which approach is best for you will depend on your reasons for making the change, your child's personality, and the size of his room. Here are a few options:
Big-kid bed hoopla: Some children enjoy having an official Big Kid Day party. Set up the bed, decorate the room and add a few sleep-related gifts like books and stuffed animals.
One-step-at-a-time: Take the mattress out of the crib and place it on the floor in the place as the crib was. This gives your child the same sleeping surface and view of the room as he's accustomed to. Place guard rails around the sides to create a crib-like enclosure. Keep the same bedding and crib toys. This is a mid-step between the crib and a real bed.
The gradual introduction: Set up the new bed in the same room with the crib. Allow your child to play on the bed and nap there. Do your bedtime reading in the new bed. This will help your child get used to the bed gradually.
No matter which path you choose -- be patient. Big steps toward growth often happen in spurts, and your child may be excited to welcome the change one day, but wary of it the next. Maintain your nightly bedtime routine and help your child develop a positive association with his new bed, since he'll be sleeping there for many years to come.