Making The Transition From A Crib To A Bed

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The number of milestones that a child goes through in the first few years of life is nothing short of mind boggling. While the move from a crib to a bed might not be as big as your child’s first words or steps, it’s a major accomplishment nonetheless.

While this transition is exciting, it doesn’t always go seamlessly. Some kids have a tough time letting go of their crib along with the other comforts of early life. I have outlined a few tips below to help this process go as smoothly as possible.

When To Make The Switch

Most children make the switch from a crib to a bed when they are between 18 months and 3.5 years old. Granted, that is a fairly wide range.

If you want to know when to move your child, the most important thing to consider is safety. Most toddlers have the ability to hop over the crib rail once they are 35 inches tall and 18 – 24 months old.

However, just because they can hop over the rail, it doesn’t mean that they actually will. Some toddlers will start trying to climb out and make an escape as soon as they are able. Others are happy to stay in the crib and won’t try to make a jailbreak.

If your little one is happy in the crib and is not trying to get out, there is no reason you need to rush them out. However, if your toddler is a climber, it can be a good idea to make the move. The last thing you want is for your little one to climb up over the crib rail and then come crashing down on the other side.

How To Transition From A Crib To A Bed

Some kids are excited about making the move into a bed, and others are a bit reluctant to leave the crib behind. Here are a few tips to help with the transition:

  • Bedding. You might let your little one continue to use a toddler sleeping bag for a little wile. But then, you’ll want to take your toddler to the store with you to help pick out a new set of sheets and a comforter. That way, they are sure to love the design, and might be a little more excited about making the move.
  • Stuffed animals. Put a few of their favorite stuffed animals on the bed to make it look more inviting.
stuffed animals
  • Naps. You don’t have the make the transition all at once. Instead, start having your toddler nap in the bed for a week or two in order to get used to it before spending the night.
  • Books. As your little one gets ready to make the transition, start reading a few books about other kids that are making the move from a crib to a bed. This will help them conceptualize the move, and understand that this is something that everyone goes through.
  • Consistent routine. Even though they are sleeping in a different place, there is no need to make any changes to the bedtime routine. In fact, keeping the same routine will make the transition a little easier.
  • Praise. Going through any sort of life transition can be challenging, especially for a toddler. So, be sure to heap on the praise as they adjust to their new bed.
  • Patience. Like a lot of things in the world of parenting, patience is important. When toddlers move to a new bed, it’s fairly common for them to hop out to ask for water or to snuggle with mom and dad. The best way to handle this is to calmly walk them back to their room, and try to keep things as boring as possible. Sooner or later, they’ll get used to staying in bed.
  • Childproof. Since kids do tend to get out of their beds once in a while, it’s a good idea to double check their room to make sure it’s childproofed. In particular, take a look at all of the furniture and make sure anything that could tip over is secured to the wall.
  • Bed safety. When you’re deciding where to put the bed, be sure to place it away from any windows or cords. If possible, you might even put it in the same place that the crib used to be.

What Kind Of Bed Should You Get?

If you have a convertible crib that turns into a toddler bed, you’re all set. Unless of course you have another baby that is planning to take over the crib.

When shopping for a new bed, some parents go for a toddler bed. These tend to be quite low to the ground which is good for safety. They also come in different designs like cars and castles which can be a lot of fun for kids. That said, while toddler beds can be nice, they aren’t entirely necessary.

A lot of parents opt to skip the toddler bed, and go straight to a twin bed. These work really well as long as you get one that is low to the ground. It’s also a good idea to avoid getting a bed with ornamentation or cutouts on the headboard or foot board.  A simpler design means your little one will be less likely to bump their head or get their fingers caught. In the beginning, some parents simply place a twin mattress on top of a box spring and put it on the floor. That’s about as simple as it gets, and also low to the ground for safety.

You will want to be sure to get a bed that includes or accommodates guard rails. It’s not uncommon for toddlers to roll around a lot in bed. So, guard rails are a big help in preventing them from tumbling onto the floor and getting hurt. As an extra precaution, you might want to place a soft rug, sleeping bag, or some pillows on the ground as well just in case your little one does fall out.

toddler in bed

Things To Avoid When Making The Transition

Moving from a crib to a bed is a big transition for a toddler to make. So, you want to be sure to avoid making this change at the same time as they are going through another change. For example, if they are starting at a new daycare, giving up a pacifier, or potty training, it’s best to hold off on the move to a bed. Doing too much at once can be overwhelming an stressful.

A new sibling can be a major life change as well. If you’re expecting a new baby, and plan to move them into the crib, you will want to take this into consideration. In this case, it’s a good idea to move your toddler into their new bed 1 – 2 months before the new baby arrives (assuming your toddler is at least 18 months old). That way, your toddler will have time to adjust to their new bed and won’t feel like they are being displaced.

If you’re planning to have your newborn sleep in a bassinet for a number of months after birth, then you can always wait to transition your toddler to the bed. In that case, I would recommend moving your toddler into a bed a couple of months after your baby’s arrival so they have time to get used to living with the baby. It’s also a good idea to let your toddler adjust their new bed before your baby starts sleeping in the crib.

Final Thoughts

Your child’s early years can go by in a flash. It seems that one minute, they are a completely helpless newborn. Then, one day, you turn around and they are walking, talking, and developing a personality all their own. The move from a crib to a bed is another step away from babyhood, and toward childhood. It’s also a good reminder to enjoy every moment along the way.

Cristin is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, and the loving mother of two wonderful children. In her free time, she can often be found in a yoga studio or catching up on her favorite shows.