Is It Time To Transition to a Toddler Bed?

Bedroom for kid

Your toddler sleeps safe and sound in her crib, but now you’re starting to wonder: Is it time to make the big switch? Is your little one ready? Will he or she squabble and scream or take to it like a champ?

I’m talking, of course, about the transition from crib to bed. Of all the difficulties of parenting a toddler, this one might not have hit your radar. Truthfully, some children make the switch easily, while others put up a never-ending fuss. But all have to make the move sometime, which means you need to understand how to best help. Here are signs your child is ready for a big-kid bed and tips to help him or her adjust:

A child peeking over a crib.Your child will outgrow his or her crib in what will seem like no time.

Reasons to transition from crib to bed

Some kids will show you they’re ready for a new bed however they can – by refusing bedtime, by constantly escaping the crib or even by trying to sleep in other locations. While technically, there are only a few reasons why your child needs to graduate to a toddler bed, it’s a good idea to consider the transition when your little one hits 18 months of age. That said, some children don’t need a new bed until they’re 2 1/2, possibly even 3.

Still, the age at which your child switches is ultimately up to you. Below are a few signals that your little one is ready:

Your child is outgrowing the crib

At some point, your toddler will grow big enough to crawl over the crib’s railing. This presents a definite safety issue; you don’t want your child to fall, after all!

So how big is too big? According to Parents Magazine, 35 inches in height is what you should keep an eye out for. At this size, your little one can easily climb out of the crib. That said, a shorter frisky child may still be able to escape, while a taller one may have no desire to and simply stay put. You’ll need to keep an eye on your toddler’s size and energy levels and gauge the risk for yourself.

You’re expecting another baby

Many parents decide to transition their toddler when they’ve got another child on the way. There’s no reason not to take this approach, but keep in mind this is an emotional time for your toddler. He or she is already changing at a rapid rate, trying new foods, potty methods and ways of navigating the world. A new baby throws a major change into their lifestyle and understanding, and switching beds during this time just increases the pressure. You’ll have to be ultra-sensitive to your baby’s needs.

Also, keep in mind that jealousy may become an issue if you plan on reusing the crib. Your toddler may suddenly develop an emotional attachment to his or her first bed, fearing that being separated from it means being replaced by the new baby. To ease the transition, get your toddler acclimated to the new bed as far in advance of your delivery date as possible. Parents Magazine suggested dismantling the crib and storing it out of sight so any existing attachments fade away.

A little boy sleeping and holding a teddy bear.Be patient as your child transitions from crib to bed.

How to make the switch easier

Change is never easy for children, and the switch to a toddler bed is no different. Here are some tips for softening the transition:

  • Let your toddler choose his or her new bed. Make an event of going to the store and shopping for a toddler bed, sheets, blankets, pillows and toys. Kids are more likely to use the things they choose for themselves, and giving your little one freedom to design it creates a sense of ownership and attachment. Pretty soon, your child will love the toddler bed far more than the crib.
  • Remove the crib from your child’s room. Many growing children thirst for independence. But, when forced to grow up by sleeping in a new bed, they cling to the security and comfort of being a baby. Removing the crib helps your child break old habits and explore her new role as a growing big kid.
  • Keep your bedtime routine the same. Too much change will frustrate your child. Stick to the same bedtime habits and, if possible, install the new bed where the crib originally sat. You may need to start bedtime earlier in the beginning to account for any fussiness, but otherwise, keep changes to a minimum.
  • Praise your child for a job well done. A simple, “Great job!” will boost your toddler’s confidence tremendously and make him or her more prone to using the bed.

With a little patience and good timing, your toddler will sleep soundly in a big-kid bed in no time.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.