How do you know if your toddler is ready to move from a crib to a bed?
Most children will move from their crib to a toddler bed or regular bed between 18 months and three years old.
Many sleep experts recommend keeping your toddler in their crib for as long as possible.
As a mom of two, I completely agree!
This study found that toddlers who slept in cribs as opposed to in a bed had fewer night awakenings, longer stretches of time asleep, and increased nighttime sleep duration.
Crib sleepers also showed decreased bedtime resistance.
Those are certainly great reasons to keep your toddler in a crib for as long as you can!
Most toddlers feel safe and secure in their crib so the transition to a bed might be a difficult one.
Of course, they can’t stay in the crib forever.
Babies have to grow up.
I frequently ask my daughter if she’ll be my baby forever and she gladly tells me, “No, I’m growing up!” Cue all the tears.
Moving to a bed is a toddler milestone that can be filled with mixed emotions for both children and parents.
To make the move from crib to bed easier on everyone, it’s best to wait until your toddler is absolutely ready for this big developmental milestone.
Here are some signs to help you recognize if your toddler is ready to transition out of their crib.
1. Sleeping in the Crib is No Longer Safe
I was lucky (and grateful) that my daughter never attempted to climb out of her crib. After a difficult first year and a half with sleep issues, she finally learned to LOVE her crib and loved sleeping in it.
Some families aren’t so lucky and have little ones who try to escape from the crib as early as possible. If your toddler is already attempting to climb over the crib rails, it’s probably time to transition to a bed.
There are some steps you can try first, such as putting them in a wearable blanket which might make it harder for them to try to get out of the crib.
However, always use your judgment. If you’re worried your toddler could potentially fall out of the crib, it’s best to just move them out of it.
2. They’ve Reached the 35-inch Height Limit
According to The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a child more than 35 inches tall should be placed in either a toddler or regular bed and no longer be in a crib.
If you’re not sure how tall your little one is, the height of the side rail should be no more than three-quarters of your toddler’s height.
If the side rail is below your toddler’s nipple level, it’s time to move out of the crib.
3. They are Sleeping Through the Night
If your toddler is having trouble falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night, you’ll probably want to hold off on making any big changes.
Once they’ve been sleeping consistently through the night for several months, it’ll be easier to transition from crib to bed.
If they are potty training, however, and waking at night to go to the bathroom, you may want to consider switching from the crib to the bed if you think that transition would make nighttime bathroom trips easier on your family.
4. There Have Been No Big Changes Recently
If your child has experienced any recent changes in their little lives (think new baby or starting preschool), it may be best to postpone the transition to a new bed.
You’ll probably want to wait a few months until they’re comfortable with the new routines before introducing them to new sleeping arrangements.
If you are planning to switch your little one into a bed so that their new sibling can have their old crib, you may want to do this a few months before the baby arrives. This will give your child time to adjust to their new bed.
Hopefully, it will also help to avoid feelings of jealousy when your toddler sees the new baby using their crib.
Alternatively, if you will eventually be using the crib for a new baby but have other sleeping arrangements in the beginning (like a bassinet), it might be easier to keep your toddler in their crib.
Help them make the transition to a bed a few months after you deliver, once the family has adjusted to having a new baby around.
5. They are Asking for a Bed
If your little one is showing interest in sleeping in a bed, that’s a good sign they’re ready to transition out of their crib.
If your toddler is asking for a new bed or asking when they can sleep in a big bed instead of the crib, it might be an ideal time to start the process since they’re open to the idea of a new bed.
6. They Can Follow Directions
Many parents are concerned about their toddlers getting up in the middle of the night or early in the morning and wandering around the house by themselves.
I know I was worried about this when we made the switch from crib to bed.
If your toddler is able to follow directions, such as: go get your shoes, put your blocks back in the basket, and throw away your trash, they’ll be more likely to understand and listen when you tell them to stay in their bed.
7. Their Room is Toddler-Proofed
Okay, this isn’t really a sign that your toddler is ready to move to a bed, but it’s definitely an important part of preparing to transition them out of the crib.
Here are some things to consider when childproofing your toddler’s bedroom:
- Anchor furniture, like dressers, to the wall
- Remove small items that could be a choking hazard
- Cover outlets
- Secure cords from window blinds out of reach (or switch them out for cordless blinds)
Should I Move My Toddler to a Toddler Bed or a Big Kid Bed?
If you’ve decided your toddler is ready to move from the crib to a bed, the next step is to figure out if you should use a toddler bed or a regular bed.
A toddler bed can be used if your baby is 15 months or older. A toddler bed is basically a small bed meant for toddlers up to about 5 years old (and less than 50 pounds) that uses a crib or toddler mattress and is low to the ground.
Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for actual age and weight or height guidelines. Many cribs can convert into toddler beds which makes it a convenient choice for a lot of parents.
However, if your toddler is older when you make the move out of the crib, you may want to go directly to a regular-sized bed.
Many parents choose to skip the toddler bed and transition their children to a twin or even full-sized bed.
What To Consider When Choosing a Toddler Bed Versus Adult Sized Bed
There are multiple aspects to consider when deciding to use a toddler bed or an adult-sized bed when moving your child out of their crib.
- Space: Do you have room for a bigger bed?
- Convenience: Do you already have a convertible crib you can transition into a toddler bed?
- Cost: Is it worth it to buy a new toddler bed and then have to buy a regular-sized bed a few years down the road? If you have a convertible crib, do you have to buy a conversion kit? Can you use your current crib mattress in the toddler bed? Will you need to buy side rails?
- Other children: Is there a new baby on the way or do you plan to become pregnant soon? Will you need your current crib for the new baby so you’d rather not convert it to a toddler bed?
Benefits of Using a Toddler Bed
Toddler beds are smaller in size so they are a great choice to save space for a few years, especially if you have multiple kids sleeping in one room or your toddler’s bedroom doubles as a playroom.
Possibly Easier Transition
Switching from the crib to a toddler bed could be an easier transition for your little one. This is true especially if you are converting their crib to a toddler bed.
Toddler beds are smaller and can provide a lot of the same coziness your toddler’s crib did.
Toddler beds are generally low to the floor and usually have built-in side rails. So if you have an especially active sleeper or you’re worried about your child rolling out of bed, a toddler bed can provide some peace of mind.
If you have a daredevil toddler who needs to move out of the crib before age two due to climbing over crib rails, a toddler bed is the safest choice.
Benefits of Switching to a Regular Sized Bed
Only One Transition Needed
If you move directly to a regular-sized bed from a crib, your child could potentially sleep in the same bed until they go off to college!
You don’t need to worry about ANOTHER transition once they grow out of the toddler bed.
Extra Space for Snuggle Sessions
One of my favorite things about my toddler being in her own bed is that our entire family of four can sit on her bed each night for stories and snuggles before she goes to sleep.
It’s also great to have a comfortable place to sit and hang out when she’s playing in her room.
More Room for Your Toddler
Although a toddler bed may seem like the safer choice for a child that moves around a bit at night, they might actually be more comfortable and sleep better in a larger bed.
A regular-sized bed gives children more room to move around and find the perfect position for sleeping.
Is Your Toddler Is Ready to Move from a Crib to a Bed?
If you’re thinking about making the switch from crib to bed for your toddler, it’s important to ensure your child is actually ready to make the move.
Some parents and caregivers may find it easier to wait until their little one is close to three years old. Some kids may need to transition earlier for safety reasons.
I hope these seven tips will help you to determine if it’s time for your toddler to switch from their crib to a big kid bed.
Remember, all kids and families are different and what works for someone else may not work for you.
Good luck as you work on transitioning your toddler into their new bed!