When to Transition to a Toddler Bed: Everything You Need to Know For a Smooth Adjustment
Transitioning your child from their crib into a toddler bed is a major milestone. This exciting ‘big kid’ step might feel a little bittersweet for you and can sometimes be overwhelming for your child. So, it’s a good idea to prepare for the transition ahead of time to make things as smooth as possible for both you and your baby. The smoother the transition, the more sleep everyone gets. Need we say more? In this article we’ll cover when to transition to toddler bed and how to transition to toddler bed. And, in case things don’t go quite to plan, we’ll also share some helpful tips and tricks for transitioning to toddler bed. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- When to transition to toddler bed
- How to transition to toddler bed
- Tips & tricks for transitioning to toddler bed
When to transition to toddler bed
If you’re wondering when to switch from crib to toddler bed, it’s important to remember that every child is different. So, what worked for your friend’s baby or what worked for your child’s sibling might not necessarily work for your baby. While there is no hard-and-fast rule about when to transition to toddler bed, most children make the leap between the ages of 18 months to 3 ½ years of age.
If you’re not sure when to transition to toddler bed, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for that are a great indication it’s time for your little one to make the switch. You’ll want to start the transition before your child is able to climb out of their crib and potentially hurt themselves. This typically happens when your child reaches about 35 inches in height. Once your child has reached this height, usually around 18 - 24 months of age, you’ll notice that the crib side rail comes up to about the mid-chest area on your little one. At this stage, your child can fairly easily get out of their crib so it’s likely time to start making the transition.
Keep in mind, this rule doesn’t necessarily apply to every child; some babies are quite agile and will learn how to climb out of their cribs before reaching 35 inches in height. If you’re finding that your little one is breaking out of their crib regularly, it’s a good idea to start the transition.
On the flip side, some babies are less adventurous than others and will be happy to stay in their crib without making any attempts to escape. But of course, that doesn’t mean they should stay in their cribs indefinitely. It’s still important to be mindful of not only your child’s safety but, also, their attachment to their crib. The longer your little one stays in their crib the more attached they become. If you wait too long, you may risk making the transition to a big kid bed more difficult for your baby.
How to transition to toddler bed
If you’re wondering how to transition to toddler bed, we’ve got you covered! Like most transitions you’ll navigate with your child, it’s best to take it slow. Abrupt changes to your little one’s routine can make life more difficult than it needs to be.
How to transition to toddler bed - Setting up your child’s new bed
The first step you’ll need to take is setting up your child’s new bed. There are a few different options you can explore for this. You may have purchased a convertible crib. In this case, you can transform the crib into a toddler bed which can usually be done quite easily with a few tools. If your crib is not convertible, you can either purchase a twin bed and add guard rails or you can purchase a toddler bed instead. Toddler beds are low to the ground and fit a crib mattress. They typically accommodate children up to 50 pounds. Once your child is above that weight, you’ll need to transition them into a twin bed.
How to transition to toddler bed - Baby steps
Once you’ve purchased and set-up the bed your little one will be using you can begin the transition process by introducing your child to their new bed. Get them accustomed to climbing in and out of it. Let them touch and feel their sheets and blankets. You might even want to get them involved in selecting their bedding so they feel apart of the process and excited about their new bed!
How to transition to toddler bed - Safety precautions
If transitioning into a big kid bed for a full overnight stretch feels too daunting for your little one, start with naps. Once your child is ready to start spending nights in their new bed, you must make sure that your home is set-up to avoid potential nighttime wandering accidents. This is easy to overlook when planning how to transition to toddler bed but it’s an important safety consideration. So be sure to take all the necessary precautions. Here are a few recommendations:
- Secure the top and bottom of your stairs with gates
- Anchor any tall and/or heavy furniture to the wall
- Add childproof latches to cupboards and doors
- Cover exposed electrical sockets
- Lock any doors and windows that lead outside
Tips & tricks for transitioning to toddler bed
Transitions can be tough so if things aren’t going to plan, don’t fret. A little patience goes a long way. In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks you can try to get your little one more comfortable in their new bed
- Ease into it. If your child is feeling especially anxious about the transition, try a different activity to get them accustomed to the bed before attempting to get them to nap or sleep in it. Reading a book together is a good idea.
- Don’t cave! It’s difficult to watch your child when they are struggling with a transitional period. But, it’s important to stay the course and find ways to empower your child and encourage their independence in this new stage.
- Maintain consistency. During the transition from the crib to the toddler bed, try and maintain consistency with the bedtime routine so your child doesn’t feel too unmoored.
- Go with the flow. Don’t expect perfection. It’s unlikely that your little one will immediately do full night stretches in their new bed. They may roam, they may cry, they may sleep on the floor. This is all very normal and you and your little one will find your bedtime routine again in due time.
The first few years of your child’s life are full of transitional periods. They can sometimes be challenging but they’re also exciting milestones worth celebrating! With a little patience and a few baby steps you’ll have your little one sleeping soundly and feeling proud in their new big kid bed in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
The first few years of your little one’s life are full of transitions. From the swaddle to the sleep sack and now the sleep sack to the blanket, there’s never a dull moment! If you take baby steps, the transition from a sleep sack to a blanket can be relatively seamless. Start by introducing your little one to the blanket they will be sleeping with. You can do this during naps or even just when cuddling with your baby. As you’re introducing your child to their blanket, begin to use a lighter sleep bag. This will help your child start to get used to sleeping with less weight on them. If necessary, be sure to change how you dress your baby for sleep so that they are still warm enough in the lighter sleep sack. Once your little one is using a blanket, you’ll want to keep this in mind as well. Oftentimes, your child will not stay under the blankets for the entire night as they’re getting used to sleeping without a sleep bag. So be sure to dress them accordingly.
It is recommended that parents wait until about 2 years of age to introduce pillows. Prior to that, due to sleep safety concerns, it is important to ensure that there are no toys, pillows or blankets in your child’s crib or toddler bed, should they transition earlier than 24 months.
It is recommended that parents wait until about 2 years of age to introduce their toddlers to a pillow. When you’re ready to add a pillow into your little one’s bed, opt for one that is small and firm. Don’t start with a fluffy, adult-sized pillow. It is also a good idea to avoid feathers as they can potentially trigger an allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic options are ideal, especially if your child has sensitive skin.
Remember, like most sleep transitions, your toddler may not take to their pillow immediately. That’s ok! Most children don’t need a pillow immediately upon transitioning to a big kid bed. As long as your child is sleeping well in their toddler bed without a pillow, there’s no huge rush in introducing the pillow to the mix. You can try again in a few weeks or a few months. Alternatively, you can try finding another pillow that your little one prefers. Play with different materials and levels of firmness until you find one that works for your child.
Locking your toddler’s bedroom at night is not recommended for safety reasons. Namely, in the event of an emergency or a fire hazard, you want your child to be able to safely and easily exit their room. If your toddler is going through a sleep regression and you’re struggling to get them to stay in their bedroom at night, there are a few other techniques you can try. A gate or a dutch door is both a safer and less alienating option for your child. Motion alarms are another great tool to alert parents when a toddler has left their room in the middle of the night. Finally, establishing a solid bedtime routine with your baby to ensure that they are able to sleep soundly throughout the night is incredibly important and helpful.
If you’re wondering when to transition to toddler bed, the answer is it depends on your little one’s development because every child is different! However, children typically make the leap from the crib to a big kid bed between the ages of 18 months to 3 and a half years of age. Here are a few signs to look out for that are a great indication your little one is ready to take the next step:
They are able to escape their crib and are doing so regularly
The crib rail reaches about mid-chest height on your child when they are standing up
Your child has reached 35” in height
Your child is asking for a big kid bed