Does your child fight sleeping in a big bed? Discover the top 7 items you need when she resists the toddler bed transition.
It always started with my kids climbing out of their cribs—the signal that a toddler bed transition needed to happen.
Except that this transition wasn’t always so smooth. We’re talking hours of patting and shushing and multiple attempts to leave the room (with just as many times to walk them back).
They weren’t just getting out of bed and playing quietly, either. They’d cry and feel scared of their new sleeping arrangements. Other times, they’d wake up in the middle of the night to realize they were no longer in their cribs, then refuse to even lie down in their beds.
For many parents, the toddler bed transition is a difficult stage to get through. Maybe your child resists her new big bed so much that she ends up sleeping in yours. You’re not sure whether she’s even ready, or if you switched her to a big bed too soon.
You hear about other toddlers who love their big kid beds, but yours is the exact opposite: she hates it. In fact, she’s inconsolable for hours at the door, until she eventually falls asleep from sheer exhaustion.
Your heart can’t take much more. What can you do to make the toddler bed transition easier on her?
7 items you need for a smooth toddler bed transition
If you can relate, rest assured it’s not hopeless. And it’s not forever, either—your child will get the hang of her new toddler bed at some point.
Our goal is to make that process easier on her, to help her adjust to this change in her life. And one of the best ways to do that is by making sure you have the right items for a better toddler bed transition.
If she continues to resist her toddler bed, take a look at these must-have items that can help:
1. Favorite sheets
Switching from a crib to a convertible toddler bed might mean reusing your child’s existing bedding. After all, why get new sheets when her current ones work just as well?
But one of the best ways to get her excited about her new bed is by fitting it with new sheets.
Maybe you’ll choose sheets with her favorite character, encouraging her to give her bed a try. Or perhaps you stick to simple, fun patterns that brighten up the bed.
The items themselves don’t have to be new—they can be hand-me-downs from an older sibling or a family member. The idea is to give her one more reason to feel positive about her new sleeping arrangement, and sheets are a fantastic way to make that happen.
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2. Bed rail
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I thought I could get away without a bed rail for one of my twins’ beds. You see, his crib did convert to a toddler bed, but it didn’t come with any sort of railing at all. And if you ever wondered if kids fall out of their beds without a rail, let me tell you… they do.
We bought this Regalo bed rail soon after, which kept him safely in bed (and off the floor):
Regalo bed rails are also easy to swing down, so that he was also able to access his bed during the day without a rail. They provided the snug, secure comfort of being “contained,” while still giving him space to get in and out of bed easily.
Bed rails not only work well with convertible cribs, but for twin beds as well. You might prefer moving your child from a crib to a twin bed, but find that she still needs a rail to keep her in bed. And if you want bed rails really out of the way, many can tuck beneath the mattress.
3. Night light
Does your child cry because she’s scared to be in her room? One common culprit is fear of the dark. Even if she was fine sleeping in a crib in the dark, the new change in beds could heighten or introduce new fears.
Plugging a nightlight in her room can help her adjust to her new sleeping arrangement much better. A soft, low light can reassure her of familiar sights while still allowing her the darkness she needs to sleep.
And now that she’s more mobile, the nightlight makes sure she’s safe as well. Even though she should stay in bed, it’s better that she can walk around safely than to stumble in total darkness.
4. Allow special stuffed animals
Do you have a rule about sticking to one or two stuffed animals in bed? Make an exception and allow your child to bring as many (or let’s say, up to five) stuffed animals to her new toddler bed.
As exciting as a new bed or new sheets can be, familiar stuffed animals can help ease any anxieties she may have about her new arrangement.
5. Light-up alarm clock
Many parents have found that a light-up alarm clock helps their toddlers stay in bed until wake-up time. These alarm clocks turn on at a specific time you set—let’s say 6:30am—which is your child’s cue that she can get out of bed or leave the room.
A light-up alarm clock not only gives her a way to “tell time” and know when to get up, but also reassures her that she’s not stuck in bed forever. Come morning or when the lights turn on, she can freely get out of her bed completely.
6. Doorknob locks
Now that your toddler can get out of bed, what do you do if she keeps opening the door?
The first night my eldest slept in a toddler bed was a disaster. Sleeping in a bed meant he could open the door and leave the room—which he did for two hours straight.
Each time he did, my husband or I would walk him back to bed to send the message that his bed was where he belonged. But two hours in and I knew this couldn’t continue.
The next night, we used doorknob locks on the inside of his room, preventing him from opening the door. It seemed strange to use these locks, since we were essentially making sure he couldn’t get out of his room.
But I thought of the locks as another way to keep him contained, just as—up until this point—his crib had done the same.
Even though we checked in frequently in the evening so he knew we were sleeping in the next room, at least he wasn’t able to get up and leave his room.
7. Bedtime books
One of the best ways to ease your toddler’s anxieties and apprehensions about sleeping in a new bed is reading bedtime books.
You can even read books about characters who resist going to bed or need to adjust to a new room. Your child can better relate to the emotions these characters are going through and know that others struggle with sleeping in a big bed, too.
Not all kids take to sleeping in a big bed. Even your child’s initial excitement as you assembled the bed could have easily led to anxiety and panic when it came time to actually sleeping in it.
No worries—even if she resisted his bed, there are still plenty of ideas to make the process smoother. You can introduce a new nightlight or light-up alarm clock, or read bedtime books while snuggled with her favorite stuffed animals.
And of course, you can install bed rails to keep her not only safe, but feeling snug and secure in an unfamiliar environment.
No more heartache—now she can sleep in her own bed, willingly and happily.
Get more tips:
- Transitioning to a Toddler Bed at 18 Months
- Toddler Bed vs Twin Bed: Which One to Choose
- How to Stop Toddler Bedtime Tantrums
- What to Do When Your 2 Year Old Wakes Up at Night for Hours
- When Your Toddler Has Sudden Separation Anxiety at Bedtime
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