Right now a popular topic on our members' only community Discussion group is the challenge of transitioning children from cribs to beds. Timing for this transition varies according to children's development and personality, but the moment that children begin to attempt to climb out of the crib, for safety's sake, that is the time to make the transition.
For some families, the dark, the quiet, the closed door and the habit of a settled bedtime routine is sufficient to prevent wandering toddlers, but for some, it most definitely is not enough! (This is where the work that you've done (and sacrifices that you've made) to have a settled bedtime routine can pay off...)
One thing that, anecdotally, might play a role is if children are having unsettled sleep for other developmental reasons (teething, growing pains, other changes) when this transition is made. But whatever the reason, no one wants toddlers wandering around during the night.
Some tips mentioned by our group members include:
- Making sure that the room is very dark, as well as any room beyond the closed door.
- If they do get up, be as boring and non-reactive as possible when you put them back to bed. Any stimulus is attention, so make yourself as uninteresting as possible when you put them back to bed. No conversation, no food, no stories, no songs...just a walk straight back to bed. This shouldn't feel anything at all like a second bedtime. Don't even ask if anything is wrong; they will certainly let you know if there is! (But of course you can sneakily feel for a fever as you lead them back to bed.)
- For older wanderers, put a color-coded wake up clock by the bed - these clocks will usually have hours that are ok to wake up in, say, green, and 'stay in bed' hours in red or another color.
- Also for older wanderers, some folks have had success with a sticker system; this can work especially well with multiples who enjoy friendly competition with each other. But most younger toddlers aren't developmentally ready for this.
And finally, like many things related to children, this phase too will pass.