Is your kiddo ready to ditch the crib and move into a toddler bed? This milestone shows parents that their little one is growing up, which is exciting. But your toddler may not agree. For tips on recognizing when the time is right and making the transition to a toddler bed safely, check out our guide below.
When do I know the time is right?
One of the trickiest parts of transitioning your child to a toddler bed is timing it well. There isn’t a “correct” age for all kids. Many toddlers make the switch between 1 ½ to 3 ½ years old, but that isn’t a set rule. If your toddler is comfortable in their crib, it’s perfectly fine to let them continue sleeping there past 2 years old, as long as it’s safe. If your baby seems to be getting too tall for their crib and they’re trying to climb out often, they may be ready for a toddler bed.
Before you make the switch, consider other milestones in your child’s life. Are they potty training or weaning? Are they starting preschool? Is the family moving or expecting a new baby? It’s best to avoid overwhelming your toddler with too many changes at once. If there’s a lot going on, wait until things have settled to move your toddler to a new bed.
If your toddler seems mature enough to move and asks for a new bed, she may be ready. Trust your judgment.
Pick out a toddler bed together
Once you and your child have decided that they’re ready for a bigger bed, go shopping together. Involving them in the process will likely make them more excited about the change and less apprehensive. If you already have a toddler bed, convertible crib, or a twin mattress with guardrails ready to go, let your child pick out new bedding or blankets. Be sure to keep familiar items like stuffed animals or pillows for their new bed.
When you involve your child in this process, you’re also mentally preparing them for the new arrangements. Removing their crib without warning and replacing it with a new, unfamiliar bed can be difficult for them.
Make sure everything is childproofed
Your toddler will probably get in and out of their new bed at night, so check that their room and the rest of your house is childproofed. Do a quick sweep of every room that your toddler can access. Make sure there are safety latches on drawers and cabinet doors so your child can’t get into any dangerous substances or materials. The stairs should be secured at the top or bottom to prevent tumbles. Lock any doors or windows that lead outside, or to spaces off-limits like the basement or garage. Finally, consider putting down pillows or floor rugs near their new bed in case they roll out and fall.
Maintain their bedtime routine
Introducing too many changes to your toddler might make them feel lost or overwhelmed. If possible, put the new bed in the same spot as the crib. Keep their bedtime and bedtime routine consistent: bathtime, storytime, bedtime, and so on. The only change for your child should be their new bed. Stick with the practiced routine and your child will get used to everything.
This transition can be frustrating for your child and for you. She will likely get out of her new bed multiple times throughout the night. She might cry, want her old crib, or refuse to go to sleep. Understand that your child might be scared of change and unwilling to adjust. If your child is a nighttime wanderer, quickly and calmly lead them back to their bed, then leave the room. Remind them that it’s bedtime. If your child cries or is clingy, tell them that you know this is hard and that you’ll be there for them. Be patient and remember that while this is a big childhood milestone, it will also pass.
Don’t forget that every child is different; some kids warm to their new beds right away, and others might take a little longer to get used to it. Remember that this is a sign your child is healthy and growing. She’s taking some of her first steps in becoming an independent kid. With your patience and support, this experience will be a positive one.