Toddler Sleep Help: When is My Toddler Is Ready For a ‘Big Kid’ Bed?

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  • August 14, 2012

Would you like to have me answer your sleep question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above toddler sleep help video then here is the transcript of this week’s toddler sleep help video:

In this week’s video, I’m going to answer Roselyn’s e-mail question. She has a seventeen-month old of who she has successfully sleep coached and she now sleeps through the night like a charm she said and they are all feeling great. Here’s her request for toddler sleep help:

“How do I know if she’s ready for a big girl bed? She tends to flail on her sleep and hit the side rails. It never really wakes her up fully but I wince when I hear it. I’m worried that she’ll really hurt herself. I thought about bumpers but everything I’ve read says they’re not safe. I’m also worried she’ll fall out of a big bed in the night given how much she moves around. We’re moving to a new house in July so I’m considering making the switch then. But I wonder if that’s a good opportunity or just too much change at once. I definitely don’t want to mess with her sleep if I can avoid it. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.”

Roselyn, there’s a lot of good questions in here. First of all, congratulations on your successful sleep coaching and I’m so happy to hear that you and your family are sleeping well and most of all, your daughter. I do have some strong thoughts about when to transition to a bed but I wanted to make sure to also address the moving and the restless sleeping and flailing around first.

Just so you know, a child’s sleep architecture, as they call it, does not mimic an adult’s until about two years of age. So they have a little bit more restless sleep than we do. You also want to make sure that she’s not having restless sleep because she’s either sleep deprived which it doesn’t sound like she is or that she has sleep apnea. So again, not to get too concerned but I’d make sure that she’s not snoring, mouth-breathing or sweating when she’s sleeping and the other sign all symptoms of sleep apnea (in addition to restless sleeping). Children with sleep apnea are often very restless when they’re sleeping. If she does have any of these signs I would tell your pediatrician so that sleep apnea can be ruled out. Mostly they’re going to be ruling out if her tonsils and her adenoids are enlarged. If that’s not it and shes sleeping well, doesn’t hurt herself and isn’t waking up crying from wrestling all over the crib, then I would leave it be. I agree there is a lot of controversy over the safety of crib bumpers and it’s probably safer at this point to not use them.

The other discussion point is your upcoming move. I would recommend that you not transition her to a bed right now, that is too many changes and having her safe cozy bed that she is used to in our new home will make that transition easier. You might even want to try to put the crib in the same area of her room, in her new room as it is now. So instance, if in the current room you enter and her crib is to the left, I would place the crib to the left in the new room if possible. It’ll be a little helpful and a little less change.

And then the third most important question is when to transition to a bed in general. I recommend waiting until two and half ideally three years old when the cognitive ability and impulse control are developed enough to understand stay in your bed all night long. Have I seen two years old “get it” successfully? I have. I haven’t seen a lot of seventeen-month olds do it successfully or if they do, it takes weeks like three to four weeks and usually the parents can’t take it for that long. You also have to make the room super safe, remove a lot of things and often gate the door so your child doesn’t leave and walk in to new or unsafe areas of the house during the night, especially a new house. I would encourage you to wait until your child is at least two and a half to three years old when you’re all settled in and happy in your new home.

Sweet dreams,

Kim
The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have a similar sleep situation as Roselyn and want to share your thoughts and tips, please do! Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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