It is a momentous occasion when Junior gets to bring home his or her first real big kid bed. Most parents make a pretty big fuss over the whole ordeal, even throwing the occasional party and snapping some photographs. And you thought you were the only one, huh? A child’s first bed is a huge emotional and physical milestone in both the child’s life and the parents’ life. In many cases, the transition is smooth and almost problem free. However, there are plenty of times when the transition is anything but, and switching to a big kid bed is nothing short of a nightmare. Excuse the pun.
Easing a child into his or her first bed can be a little less troublesome with a little forethought and some extra care. Buying an appropriate bed for the child can takes miles off the long journey of adjustment.
As the big people we are, we sometimes forget how small it felt to be little, considering that we have been big for so long. Thus, it is recommended to resist the urge to buy the child a bigger than necessary bed, such as a double bed. After all, the small crib or toddler bed that they are graduating from made them feel safe and secure at night. Suddenly being swallowed up by their bed can be disconcerting to small children.
Preparation is one of the many keys to a successful transition. Talk about it. Make it sound fun, but not too grown up. Kids of this age aren’t particularly keen on being grown ups yet. They’ll hit that stage around ten. Talk about the fun arrangement of stuffed animals that will be able to fit at the foot of the new big kid bed or talk about the new fun sheets that Junior will be permitted to pick out. Make it sound as enticing as chocolate cake for breakfast.
Once you think you have your little trooper on board with the idea, plop them into their car seat and charge off to the furniture store (the one you already checked out to make sure there’s a few choices waiting for you that the two of you can agree on. This is an extra special day for your extra special kid. Maybe an extra special stop at one of those horrid kid restaurants or a quick buzz by the toy store for the new stuffed animal that will perch on the end of the bed for good behavior in the furniture store could be just what the little tyke ordered. However, you don’t need to go too wild. After all, there is a birthday or a holiday not too far off, isn’t there?
Unless Junior has impeccable taste for a barely new big kid, he or she is probably going to need a lot of parental direction when it comes to his or her opinion about the new bed. Letting a child pick out their new bed can mean ending up with the monstrously oversized king bed we just warned you against. However, asking them in the store which of two particular beds they like better empowers them into feeling as though they picked out their own bed.
Just because it looks like a kid’s bed doesn’t mean that the bed is entirely built to be kid friendly. Manufacturers have become quite crafty in their creative designs. A child’s first bed still needs to be additionally safer than a bed for an older child. Anyplace that you can stick your fist through your child can somehow manage to squeeze their heads through. It’s an amazing but true fact about children aged 7 and under. Their heads look large, but they can squeeze them through some pretty amazingly tight places. Of course then they can’t get them out.
A stuck head can range anywhere on the scale from funny to tragic. Thus if you can shove your fist through bars, bunk bed designs, futon designs, or any other crafty and creative design feature on the bed, skip right over it. Even if it is the only bed that your little angel insists they can sleep on.
Once you get the bed home and all set up, you might need to gauge your child’s emotional reaction. They might not be completely ready to hop into their new big kid bed, no matter how much fun it was to go and buy it. Just because they insisted at the store that this was the perfect bed for them, once you put it in their bedroom, second thoughts and cold feet might creep up to take over their earlier promises.
Some parents find it helpful to leave both the new big kid bed and the crib or toddler bed when the size of the room permits. This gives the child a few days to get used to the idea before you disassemble their trusted friendly old bed. Disassembling the old bed or crib right in front of them can actually be highly disconcerting.
While finding the right bed can make the transition from a crib or toddler bed into a child’s first bed less of a traumatic transition, creative parenting and consideration for the child’s very real feelings will make just as much of a difference, especially in the long run.