Your child will probably have a bedtime routine within a week or so of coming home from the hospital, but that routine gets more complicated with age. I know that when I babysat my nieces when they were infants, all I needed to do was change them, give them a bottle, and then lay them down to sleep. Now that they’re toddlers, the process is much more complicated. There’s dinner, bath time, PJs, story time, and finally several reminders to go to bed before they pass out.

The change in bedtime preparation was gradual, and I wasn’t there every night to see it. As I was thinking about it, I realized I was never there to see the girls get introduced to a real bed or experience the transition from baby bath or kitchen sink to taking a bath in the tub. Since I’m not around a lot of young children, I wondered when these transitions normally happen and what advice parents have to make the process easier.

Bath Time
When your children are infants, you probably bathe them like any other parent in the kitchen sink or in a baby bathtub that fits in your regular bathtub or kitchen sink. As they grow up, at what point are your children ready for the actual full sized tub? It turns out that age has less to do with the transition than size. However, the change usually happens sometime after your child turns one year old.

To make the change less scary, you can actually set your child’s small bathtub into the large one and get them used to the idea. Start with just a few inches of water to get your baby acclimatized and use a bath seat if your child still needs to lean against something.

Bed Time
Transitioning from a crib to a bed happens right around the potty training age. Other indicators that your toddler is ready to start sleeping in a bed are:

  • Asking for a bed
  • Climbing out of bed frequently

The process may take as long as potty training and can be a little tiring, especially if your child constantly gets out of bed or wakes you up at the crack of dawn. To make the process less stressful for your toddler, gradually introduce the concept of sleeping in a bed. Perhaps have them sleep in the bed one night a week, and then gradually increase the number of nights. Also, stay with your child for a longer period of time on their first night in their new bed. This will hopefully help them learn how to adjust and fall asleep in the new environment. You can also use the bed for naps at first and then for sleeping in at night.

Warner, B. (n.d.). Tackling the toddler crib-to-bed transition. St. Louis Children's Hospital Official Web Site.
Brown, S. (n.d.). When should I stop using a baby bath?. Toddlers and Twos.