One of the biggest challenges parents face is transitioning their child from their crib to a bed. This transition often causes parents a lot of stress and frustration, especially when things don’t go according to plan.
The idea seems simple—just encourage your child to sleep in their new bed. But it’s almost never that easy. A new bed marks an important stage in your child’s development, and you must make this a positive experience for them.
And while seamless transitions can happen—there are other times where a customized strategy is needed.
We sat down with Holly Jefferd, the founder of Tiny Sleepers, Big Dreamers and certified infant and toddler sleep consultant, to discuss the transition process.
Tell us about your business and what you’re most passionate about?
I’m a certified infant and toddler sleep consultant that works with families to develop customized sleep plans that focus on developing independent sleep habits.
I work with parents to help them develop a concrete plan. These plans will include things such as morning routines, nap time, refusal of naps, and how to create a sound sleeping environment.
As for my passion? I love getting infants and toddlers sleeping. Those early years are pivotal for their development, and it’s important that they get enough sleep.
After all, well-rested kids translate to well-rested parents.
How do you know it’s the right time to transition to a full-size bed?
There are a few factors to consider, but not all situations are the same.
I often recommend that you wait as long as possible. Many parents start the transition process too early because they want to get their child sleeping in a bigger bed.
I look at a combination of the child’s age, what Health Canada’s standards say, whether it’s a safety issue, and if the child has developed enough to understand the transition.
Starting the transition too early will result in frustration and lost sleep. Your child may become excited by a large and open bed, making bedtime an impossible task.
What is a sleep consultant, and how do they help?
The simple answer? It’s somebody who removes the Google search aspect out of sleep training.
Here are just a few of the things a sleep consultant does:
- Provide parents with education and resources designed to help you and your child sleep better at night.
- Create customized and guided plans that work for their family and values. A sleep plan isn’t one-size-fits-all. It must take into account the individual family.
- Give parents the support, reassurance, and confidence they need through a positive approach.
- Offer virtual assistance and in-house assistance, including overnight stays.
Most parents are capable of helping their child transition. But they often lack the confidence to make it a smooth process.
I’m both a sleep consultant and a behavior therapist. I work to make parents confident in their choices, help them build a personalized plan, and to identify and pursue long-term habits that are safe and positive.
What are three tips you always tell parents to help ease their toddler’s transition?
Getting the child excited for sleep. The more excited they are, the more likely they will work with you.
Reward them. Children are driven by rewards. Take the time to understand their level of reinforcement, and don’t be afraid to praise and reward them. It’s much easier to encourage them to sleep in a new bed when it’s a positive and happy experience for them.
Maintain consistency. I often refer to the 6 Cs: Clarity, consistency, control, choices, comfort, and celebrate. Help your child understand what’s happening, make that experience consistent, offer choices that make your child feel like they have some control, support them through the process, and praise their successes.
What size mattress do you recommend to parents?
Start with the mattress they will use long-term. If that’s a double or a queen—start with that right away. I don’t recommend toddler beds because that means you will need to transition them again when they outgrow it.
You want your child to relate to you. The idea of having a bed similar to their parents is exciting to them.
Another way to simplify the transition is to let them choose their sheets and blankets. You want their bed to feel comfortable to them. However, make sure their blanket is suitable for the season.
Allows kids to relate to mom and dad, they may find it exciting – allows for more room – gives them more room – let them pick out sheets and blankets – make it comfortable, not too hot or too cold.
I also recommend you check out Restens Sleepy Kids Pack. It’s designed to make the transition positive for both parents and child.
How do parents know when they need a sleep consultant?
I typically suggest they contact one when what they are doing for their family is no longer working, and they are getting frustrated. Sleep consultants aren’t for everyone. You should only start sleep coaching when you are ready.
A good sleep consultant focuses on educating parents, not telling them what to do. It’s about providing a positive and supportive environment.
Remember, children have distinct emotions that we may not understand as adults. That doesn’t make those emotions wrong. I believe in establishing sleep boundaries through a gentle approach that validates and works with your child’s emotions.
What are the most common challenges parents face?
Based on my experience, it’s a variety of factors. Some of the more common ones include:
- Busy schedules due to extracurricular activities that interfere with bedtime routines.
- Children creating excuses around bedtime to avoid sleeping.
- Ensuring that your child has received enough love and attention during the day. If their love bucket isn’t filled, they will seek that attention at bedtime.
- Understanding your child’s emotions. We may not understand why they feel a certain way, but we need to be supportive and validate those emotions.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for both parents and their children. That’s why I work to educate parents on the transition process—because I believe a well-rested family is a happy family.
If you think a sleep consultant might be right for your family, you can reach out to Holly from Tiny Sleeper, Big Dreamers here to request a free 15-minute consultation call.