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:
- 1Your toddler will probably outgrow his crib mentally before he does so physically.Even if the crib is still big compared to his size, he may be ready.Advertisement
- 2Bedtime becomes increasingly difficult.You may notice that your child is fighting bedtime, despite a well established routine.Advertisement
- 3Your child can climb out of the crib.A 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.
- 4Your child asks for a real bed.This 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.
- 5Even if your child isn't showing any of these signs, once he turns around 3 years old you will need to begin the transition.If 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.
Tips on how to transition a toddler from a crib to a bed
- 1Begin the switch when there are no other large milestones happening in your child's life.If 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.Advertisement
- 2Explain what's happening to your child.Even if your toddler is only a year and a half, take the time to explain the changes to her.
- 3If you're getting a new bed, have her pick it out.Make 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.
- 4If you're simply converting the crib into a toddler bed, have your child pick out new sheets, pillows, and other bed essentials.Whatever the case may be, let your toddler feel like he's part of the process.
- 5Use guardrails on the new bed.Some 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.
- 6Remove the crib from your child's sight.Seeing 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.
- 7Stick to that bedtime routine.If 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.
- 8Praise your child for doing well.If 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.
- 9Be prepared for setbacks.Some 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.
- 10If your child wanders around a lot, place him back in his bed calmly and quietly.Repeat as necessary. Make this as boring as possible, so that your child doesn't get excited or turn it into a game.
- 11If your child does not adjust well to the new bed, take a step back and try again later.You 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.Advertisement
- What To Expect
- Aha Parenting
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.