How to Transition Your Toddler to Their Own Room

There are so many milestones in a toddler’s life, and the transition out of mom and dad’s room is a big one. Whether you have been co-sleeping or just had the crib in your room, and whether you are about to have a new baby or you just feel it’s time to reclaim your adult space, it can be upsetting to your child. After all, your little one has shared this space with you since birth! Your toddler may not make this big change easily, but there are some things you can do to help smooth the way.

  • Take your time. If you are expecting a new baby, make sure to begin the transition long before the new little one’s arrival. That way, you can make the move gradual, for less drama. You never want your older child to feel supplanted or replaced by a younger sibling, because that can create lasting resentment. Begin the process by bringing some of your child’s most treasured belongings into the new room, like toys and stuffed animals. Play together in the new room, making it a place with positive associations, and incorporate the room into your bedtime routine, perhaps reading a bedtime story in that room.
  • Make it a big deal. You want your child to feel excited about the move to the “big kid room.” Talk it up, getting excited about how much space there is for playing in that room, and start decorating it especially for your toddler. Give your child some control over the décor, allowing involvement in picking out the colors, the sheets, etc. Of course, you don’t need to hand over the reins to your opinionated little one, but do things like offering choices between two different colors or patterns. This gives the child a sense of control and makes the change feel less intimidating.
  • Keep things the same as much as possible. For instance, if your child is not yet ready to leave the crib, move it into the new room rather than trying to change rooms and beds at the same time. Don’t change things like bedtime, and leave the bedtime routine as similar to the old routine as possible. When your toddler knows what to expect, the adjustment will be easier to manage.
  • Fade yourself out of the picture. There is a technique called fading that is very useful in getting a child to sleep solo or in his or her own room. The first night, the parent sits on the bed with the child until the child falls asleep. The next night, the parent moves further away, perhaps into a chair beside the bed, leaving after the child falls asleep. Each night, the parent moves a little bit further away, until, finally, once the bedtime routine ends, the parent leaves the room. If the child wakes up in the middle of the night, the parent should return to wherever he or she was when the child fell asleep until the child goes back to sleep.
  • Make it a party! What toddler doesn’t love a good party? Once your child has transitioned to the new room, throw a celebration to build excitement, perhaps getting your child a small surprise gift, like a new nightlight or lovey. Point out all the new and special things about the room, expressing excitement about what a cool big kid room it is.

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