Congratulations! A growing family may mean a need to find a new home, or at the very least, make changes to your existing one. Is this you? Do you need to make room – or at the very least, make change?
A new baby always means a lot of preparation… but when baby number two comes along, not only do you have to prepare yourself and the home, you need to prepare your first child for the changes that the new little cherub will bring.
One of those hurdles you will need to overcome is moving that first child (or second, or third depending on how big your family is!) out of their cot and into their ‘big kid’ bed. While change can be exciting for adults, children cling to routine, and this change can be a challenging one.
Make sure you start this process long before the new baby is due. You don’t want the older child to feel that the new baby has ejected them from their personal space! This can lead to resentment of the new addition and potentially lots of tears and tantrums. Planning ahead gives you plenty of time to get the older child settled into their new bed (or maybe a new room as well!) and adjust to new night-time routines.
A good strategy is to make the move fun – perhaps purchase some new toys or decorations, or even better, make your own – anything to make it colourful and exciting. Help the child have ownership by inviting them to choose colours, toys and so on.
If changing rooms as well as a bed, allow child number one time to spend in the new room before you move them in there to sleep. Move some toys in and start having playtime there. You might also go and lie on the new bed to read a book. Transition some key items into the new room like a beloved blanket or bed-time snuggle-buddy. Gradually the child will begin to see this space as their own. You might even throw a “big-bed” party to celebrate! Invite family and friends to afternoon tea in the new bedroom.
Once they begin to sleep in that new room – I’d like to be able to tell you the hard work is done. But it is just beginning! I’d like to say to you that it’s important to establish a new routine straight away. But prepared for some long nights with little foot steps running through the home as they discover their new sense freedom, not constrained by the bars of a cot! As frustrating as it is in the moment, believe me, years later these become some of the best memories. The running, the chasing, the giggles…
Try having quiet time in the new room before bed. This might be reading a story or playing with some quiet toys. Then, tell the child goodnight firmly and positively. Let them know it is time to go to sleep. Should they get out of bed at night, ensure they go back to bed straight away. Tell them firmly that it is time to sleep and repeat if necessary. Resist the temptation to have them sleep with you – then you will have another transition to make!
So when moving a toddler from a cot to a big bed for the first time, ensure the room is secure and be prepared for a few surprises.
Last of all, share your excitement about the new baby, and help make the older child part of that excitement – involve them in decisions and have them spend time with other babies. This all helps them be more prepared psychologically and emotionally for the changes that will take place.