Transition Your Toddler from a Crib to a Bed
Edited by Yuliya, Eng
Your little baby is growing up. Just the other night you put him down in his crib, and two minutes later found him wandering around his room instead. It's time for your toddler to make the transition from a crib to a big boy or girl bed. This is a huge milestone in both your child's life and your life, so treat it with the appropriate excitement and reflection. If the idea of your child being free from the confines of a crib at night is daunting to you, use this guide to help you get started.
How to tell when your toddler has outgrown his crib
There is no one magic age when all toddlers become ready to transition from a crib to a bed. Generally, this switch happens between 1.5 and 3.5 years old. That's a pretty wide margin, at an age where every day brings something new. If you aren't sure when to switch your child into a bed, use these tips:
- 1Even if the crib is still big compared to his size, he may be ready.Your toddler will probably outgrow his crib mentally before he does so physically.Advertisement
- 2You may notice that your child is fighting bedtime, despite a well established routine.Bedtime becomes increasingly difficult.Advertisement
- 3A baby's safety is among the most pressing reasons to make the switch between crib and bed. If your child can climb out of his crib and the crib mattress is as far down as it can go, it is probably time to start the transition.Your child can climb out of the crib.
- 4This is one of the clearest signs that it's time to switch - your child outright asks you for a bigger bed! Even if he doesn't use his words, he might show you that he's ready by lying down on your bed when it's time for his nap, or resisting moving to his crib when he's sleepy.Your child asks for a real bed.
- 5If your child seems very attached to his crib, you may need to ease him into the new sleeping spot. The longer you let him sleep in a crib, the more emotionally attached he will become to it, and the harder it will be to make the transition when the time comes.Even if your child isn't showing any of these signs, once he turns around 3 years old you will need to begin the transition.
Tips on how to transition a toddler from a crib to a bed
- 1If you are just beginning to lose the pacifier, or potty train, or any other big life change in your kid's life, hold off on the crib switch. Too much change at once can simply upset your child and cause unnecessary problems with the process.Begin the switch when there are no other large milestones happening in your child's life.Advertisement
- 2Even if your toddler is only a year and a half, take the time to explain the changes to her.Explain what's happening to your child.
- 3Make the switch exciting instead of scary by taking your child with you when you get the new bed for her. Let her have a say in what bed she gets. Do not get rid of the crib, just in case you encounter problems and need to fall back on it.If you're getting a new bed, have her pick it out.
- 4Whatever the case may be, let your toddler feel like he's part of the process.If you're simply converting the crib into a toddler bed, have your child pick out new sheets, pillows, and other bed essentials.
- 5Some parents get their kid a twin sized bed, while others use toddler beds which can accommodate crib sized mattresses. In either case, the new bed will need guardrails. Child beds often come with these, but you can also buy them separately and attach them to your child's new bed.Use guardrails on the new bed.
- 6Seeing the crib might make your child want to sleep in it. Take it away and replace it with the new bed, preferably in the same spot as where the crib used to be.Remove the crib from your child's sight.
- 7If you already have an established bedtime routine, great. If not, start one a few weeks before trying to make the switch. Having a routine can make a huge difference in the success of this transition, now that your child can simply get out of his bed if he doesn't want to sleep. You can find some suggestions for bedtime routines in this article.Stick to that bedtime routine.
- 8If he's old enough, make a sticker chart and award him with a sticker for every good evening. If he's a big too young to appreciate that, give him some other form of extra attention, like an extra book read in the evening. Many times, if you let a child know that he is doing something well and he will want to continue to do it.Praise your child for doing well.
- 9Some kids take right to their new beds. Others need have trouble making the transition. Be ready to lose some evenings to your child testing her newfound freedom by seeking you out every few minutes.Be prepared for setbacks.
- 10Repeat as necessary. Make this as boring as possible, so that your child doesn't get excited or turn it into a game.If your child wanders around a lot, place him back in his bed calmly and quietly.
- 11You might find that your great sleeper is suddenly getting up in the middle of the night a lot or having more trouble falling asleep. If that happens, your child might not be ready. It's okay to take a step back and reintroduce the crib for a while, and try again in a week or two.If your child does not adjust well to the new bed, take a step back and try again later.