When a baby needs to transition out of the crib, bed training is a process that can take some time. For many children, leaving the familiar comfort of the crib can be frightening. It may be confusing and cause anger or sadness in a child if the transition is not handled with sensitivity. This may prolong the process of the transition, but it will ultimately mean that the change is less scary for the child.
Seeing the New Bed
Bringing in a new bed and getting rid of the crib at the same time is a sudden transition that can promote fear in a child. To make the transition easier, place the new bed in the same room as the crib for awhile before transitioning the child. This will get her accustomed to the look of the bed. The child may choose to play in the new bed during the day, further creating familiarity with it.
With a new bed in the room, many children will eventually ask if they can sleep in it. If not, the parent can talk to the child at night about which bed the child wants to sleep in. Encourage sleep in the new bed, but never scold a child for clinging to a crib. This can cause even further anxiety around the transition to the new bed.
At first, the child may go back and forth between the two beds. This adjustment period may go on for a few weeks as the child gets to know the new bed and starts to feel comfortable in it. Though it will likely have rails, it won't have the familiar bars of the crib and there may be some anxiety at first. Continue encouraging sleep in the new bed and talk about how the new bed is for big kids instead of babies. Eventually, the child will want to sleep in the new bed in order to be seen as a big kid.
Taking the Crib out of the Room
The final step in getting the child through bed training is to take the crib out of the room for good. This is often a big step in the life of a toddler, and it can be an upsetting one. To prevent any unnecessary upset, don't feel that you need to take it out right away. Let the child get used to it being gone. You might try marking a calender with the day that the crib will be gone. With the child already sleeping in another bed, the countdown may get the child to look forward to that day instead of being upset.
If a countdown is upsetting, you may decide simply to take the crib out and replace it with some sort of surprise, such as a large stuffed animal. The element of the surprise addition to the room will take away some of the emotional reaction to the crib being gone and allow the child to concentrate on something other than the missing crib in the room.