Is your toddler ready for a big kid bed? Here’s everything you need to know about successfully transitioning your not-so-little one out of their crib and into a toddler bed.
Simply put, the three key factors to consider when to transition your child from the familiarity of their crib to the excitement of a new big-kid bed include: if they’re ready for this big change, if you’re ready for this big change, and allotting everyone involved plenty of time to make it happen.
Signs Your Child is Ready for a Big Kid Bed
So, how do you know your toddler is ready for a big bed? Here are some signals to look out for:
- The biggest tell-tale sign that your toddler is over their crib is when they’re climbing out of it with fully raised rails. According to the Children’s Hospital of St. Louis, “when the crib rail reaches a toddler’s nipple line – climber or not – it’s time to switch because climbing is much easier.” Climbing out of a crib can lead to injury from a fall, as well as injury or chaos from unsupervised exploration and playtime in the child’s bedroom or house. Make sure their room is completely baby-proofed and that their room is securely closed with a doorknob protector or that any rooms that are off-limits without adult supervision (like the kitchen or doors leading outside) are not accessible.
- Another signal from your toddler that they’re ready for this change is when they ask for it … literally. If they’re able to vocalize their needs and can tell you that they’re ready for a new bed, it’s time.
- If you’re expecting a new baby and need to move your older child out of the nursery, this is a good time to transition them out of the baby bed and into their new big-kid bed. But try to not let too many big changes happen at once. If possible, make this move a couple of months before the new baby is due, or even a couple of months after while they’re still sleeping in a bassinet in your bedroom. The key here is to not rush the process. Patience is key to success!
- Additionally, if you’re potty training, have successfully daytime trained your little one to use the toilet, and need them to have access to the bathroom at night, this is a good time to move them into a toddler bed. A crib will physically prevent them from making it to the potty in time.
Which Toddler Bed Is Best?
Some parents use conversion kits or purchase all-in-one convertible cribs to turn their baby beds into a toddler bed and prevent frequent falling or escapes. Others put a mattress on the floor or use a Montessori-style bed frame, which is also floor-level. And some put their kids straight into a regular bed with guardrails to prevent them from rolling out in the night. Just go with whatever option best fits your child’s needs and your budget. It doesn’t have to be Instagram-perfect! It just needs to work for your child and your family to ensure everyone gets a safe and peaceful night’s sleep.
5 Tips for Saying Goodbye to the Crib
1. Make this big change fun! Celebrate this milestone in your toddler’s life by creating a new, exciting space that’s tailored to their personality and their age. (So long baby stuff; hello big kid room!) And don’t be afraid to get them involved! If they feel a sense of ownership over the new space, they’ll want to be there.
2. Take it slow. If your toddler is having a hard time letting go of their old bed, try keeping the crib in the room along with their new bed. Let them get used to seeing the new bed in their room while they’re still sleeping in the crib at night. Also, try having them sleep in the bed during nap time and when they’re winding down at night before moving them to the crib. Eventually, you can just have them in the big bed and move the crib out of the room.
3. Don’t make it a big deal. Don’t overhype the big kid bed and just treat it as a normal thing. Making too big of a deal out of a change like this can incite anxiety and stress in your little one. Sometimes, downplaying it is best.
4. Establish some ground rules. Make sure you have a plan in place for when your toddler inevitably gets out of their new big bed and makes their way to their toys or your room. Specialized alarm clocks with color codes help kids know when it’s OK to get out of bed. (Green means go; red means stay.) You can also keep some toys or books within reach of their bed so they can play in their bed quietly until it’s time to get up.
5. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Especially if you’re a first-time parent! Every child is different, and like so many parenthood milestones, you can only prepare so much. Listen to your child, look for signals, and tailor your toddler bed transition plan to their needs. It could happen overnight, or it may take weeks or even months. Just be patient, don’t stress, and prioritize sleep over forcing this change.
Have any tips for moving your child into a toddler bed? Let us know in the comments!