Hi, I'm Janet Kennedy. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City. You can find out more about me and my work on my website, nycsleepdoctor.com.
Most parents dread the switch from the crib to the bed because they're worried that their child is not going to stay in bed all night. There are a few things that you can do to try a make the process a little bit smoother.
First of all, kids are generally ready for a bed between ages 2 and 3, but if your child is climbing out of the crib, it's time to get it done, because it's no longer safe to keep them there. It's helpful to start out with a smaller bed, either a toddler's size or a twin. You can move your child to a bigger bed later, if you want. But keep in mind that your baby has been sleeping his whole life in a pretty small space, with tall sides around him, and the transition to a large bed might be upsetting.
It also helps to use a guard rail, even if your child doesn't move around a lot at night, it helps them to feel more secure to have a boundary on either side of the bed. Another good strategy is to use a gate on the doorway to keep your child in the bedroom all night long. It will also help you to feel safer knowing that your child can't wander around while you're sleeping.
It also helps to have your child walked to the bed and get in on his own, because if he gets out during the night, he needs to know that he can get back in without your help. If your child gets out of bed, try walking him back to bed silently. Keep in mind that every time you're interacting with him, it's stimulating and it could be encouraging him to wake up more. So try to interact as little as possible, stay quiet and use very specific commands to get him to go back to sleep.
This is a big transition for your child. It's a huge developmental milestone and it can be a little bit rocky, but stay consistent and guide your child through it and everybody will be sleeping well again soon.