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A Big-Kid Bed for Your Toddler

How To Make The Transition From Crib To Bed

For many toddlers, the first few nights in a "big kid" bed can be very exciting. But once the novelty wears off, and your big kid figures out that he can leave his bed at will, you may find him wandering the hallways.

"Lots of parents go from having a great sleeper to a disastrous one at this stage," says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

So what's a parent to do? First, don't move your child out of the crib until he's close to 3 years old. Toddlers have a tough time recognizing that the bed has the same boundaries as the crib, says Mindell. If you're considering moving your toddler out of his crib because he's figured out how to escape, consider using a crib tent. This inexpensive device (less than $50) fits over the sides of the crib and keeps potential roamers safely corralled.

When it's time to move into the big bed, stick with the same routine that you've always done, leaving while your child is tucked in but still awake. If your child gets up, calmly lead him back to bed and remind him that he must stay there. When he does get back into bed, reward him by telling him how cooperative he is and how pleased you are, and then leave the room. You may have to repeat these last two steps over and over, but if you stay calm, eventually he won't be so excited by the prospect of getting up.

Two of the bigger mistakes you might make when your kids move from the crib to the bed are suddenly changing the routine, such as lying next to your child until he falls asleep, and "rewarding" them by letting them climb into your bed or join the rest of the family in another part of the house.

"If you give in, you'll be dealing with this issue night after night for weeks or even months," says Mindell.

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