New Report Says Toddlers Should Be in Cribs Until Age 3

A new study has revealed an interesting finding about childhood sleep: the report, funded by J & J Consumer, examined the sleep habits of over 1,980 children as described by their parents via an app. And they found that, across the board, toddlers were sleeping better when they remained in cribs longer. 

Are you surprised?

The report detailed how the study was done because as researchers are learning more and more about the importance of childhood sleep, they are also doing more to discern how we can help kids sleep better. They pointed out that when children aren't sleeping well, the incidence of negative behavior, like temper tantrums, performing tasks, and regulating their emotions, goes up. 

In other words, sleep is important work for toddlers.

And as parents, it's important that we know how to help them sleep better. According to this study, helping your toddler sleep might just be as easy as keeping them in their crib a little longer. Not only did the toddlers who had longer transitions out of a crib sleep longer at night, but their caregivers were also less likely to report resistance at bedtime and less nighttime awakenings overall. 

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Image via Unsplash/ Levi Saunders

The study was funded by baby company Johnson and Johnson, but unless they are coming out with a line of toddler cribs anytime soon, I can't see an immediate reason why these findings would be skewed in any way. Instead, the researchers in the report pointed out how parents' view of cribs for toddlers can impact how soon we switch them out. I know that in our family, for whatever reason, we often thought of the age of 2 as the age that we were “supposed” to switch our toddlers out of cribs and into big-kid beds. And in our case, we usually had another baby on the way, so it just wasn't physically possible to keep the toddler in the crib when the new baby needed it, so it's not always a possibility for every family to keep a toddler in the crib until age 3, but it is definitely something to consider. 

The findings are also impressive because they included children and caregivers from across 5 different countries, which accounts for cultural differences in sleep and bedtime practices and beliefs. And as one doctor, who wasn't associated with the study pointed out, cribs may make toddlers feel more safe by keeping them in their own small, little space. “Adults tend to see cribs as cages, but that’s not how children see them,” Lisa Meltzer, a pediatric psychologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, told Reuters

Looking back now, I have to admit that I am 100% about the results of this study. With our last child, our fourth, I decided to keep her in the crib as long as physically possible, just because I knew she would be safe in there and frankly, it made life so much easier. We didn't have a new baby on the way, so she had the luxury of staying in the crib as long as she wanted and I had the luxury of being a tired parent who decided to just go with it–and it was great. I didn't have to worry about her getting up and running around the house, I didn't have to stress if I had to get her older sisters ready and she was out, rummaging through the fridge before I could even get their hair combed, and honestly, she liked her crib. 

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My daughter is four now and she still talks about missing her crib from our “old house.” (We moved, conveniently, right after we transitioned out of her crib, so it was a natural progression.) She would probably still be sleeping in there if I had let her. But the point is, I think there is some sort of shame or even a stigma associated with parents sometimes in America for keeping their kids in cribs, like it's a sign that they aren't progressing or something. We are so focused on milestones and achievements and independence, but as this study shows, cribs shouldn't be looked at as a negative thing and if it helps your little one feel safe and sleep better, then keep your toddler in that thing as long as you would like.

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What do you think? Are you team crib or switch them out?

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New Report Says Toddlers Should Be in Cribs Until Age 3

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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