4 Signs It's Time to Switch From a Crib to a Bed
Transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed can be challenging! That’s why we talked to Jane, a professional sleep coach who provides sleep training techniques for parents. Jane shares her knowledge on how to know when your child is ready to move out of the crib, how to create a safe sleeping environment for them, and how to make the transition from sleeping in a crib to bed as seamless as possible. Based on sleep science and Jane’s firsthand experience, this blog post is the ultimate guide for any parent looking to help their toddler take the next step and move into a bigger bed. Happy reading!
— The Endy Team
As a Certified Sleep Coach, I've helped many families transition their little ones out of the crib. I also have two girls myself, and I recently moved my youngest daughter, Charlie, into a big kid bed. Here are my tips and tricks to ensure this change goes smoothly with your family!
Signs It's Time to Switch From a Crib to a Bed
Moving your child out of their crib is a big adjustment for them, likely the biggest change they have encountered in their little lives so far! So it’s important you make sure they’re ready for it. Too often, parents rush the process and end up backtracking, which can cause a lot of confusion for your little one. So how do you know if they’re ready? There are a few possible indicators for when to switch to a toddler bed:
- Age: the best age to move your child to a toddler bed is when they’re as close to three as possible. At this age, they’re capable of understanding the expectation of staying in their bed.
- Preference: if they’re asking for a big kid bed, or they no longer like their crib, it might be time to make the switch. Perhaps they have an older sibling, friend or cousin, who has already made the move and they want to be like those they look up to. This can work to your advantage, because we want them to be excited about the change. This was the case with my Charlie! She wanted to be like her big sister.
- Safety: if they start to climb out of their crib safety may become a concern. Keep in mind that there are many things you can try before jumping to the big bed. I would always attempt those first, specifically if they are under three years old.
- Independence: if you feel comfortable leaving them unsupervised in their room, that's a sign they're ready for the change. They will likely wake in the night or early morning and explore their room.
If any or all of the above rings true for your little one, then they’re ready to transition to a big kid bed—exciting! Now what?
The first thing to consider is safety! Here are my tips to ensure that their room is safe for this transition, so you can sleep soundly without stress!
Preparing Your Child's Bedroom
- If you have a video monitor, use it. It will give you a sense of security to be able to watch them and know what they’re doing.
- Secure all furniture to the wall, in case they decide to climb the bookcase. Also, put covers on electrical outlets and remove the clutter from the room.
- Get a bed that will be SAFE! You can choose a floor bed, so they won’t have far to fall if they happen to roll a bit too far. A bed with rails is also a great solution. You can buy rails, or build them yourself if you’re handy!
- It’s a good idea to put books and stuffed animals where they can reach them, so they don’t feel tempted to climb or do something dangerous to reach something they find interesting.
- Any cords should be tied up high out of reach, including curtains or blinds.
- Some people also choose to put a child lock on their door, or place a baby gate at the door to prevent them from being able to open it. This isn’t mandatory, but it will prevent them from getting up and exploring the house while you’re asleep.
Now that we know your child is ready to make the move, and the room is all set up for them, let’s talk about HOW to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
Easing the Transition From a Crib to Bed
We want your child to be excited about this change; it’s something to celebrate, so make it a BIG DEAL! Start talking about it well before the “unveiling” of the new bed/room. I recommend getting them involved and letting them feel some ownership of their new bed, and the growth, trust, and freedom that comes with it. You can take them with you to the store (or online shopping, if that’s your jam, like me) and let them pick out their new bed and bed sheets. If you’re getting the bed from a sibling’s room, or from someone they know, talk about it! For example: “This is the bed that Georgia used to sleep in. Now that you are a big girl like her, she is giving it to you! I am so proud of you!” Charlie was very happy to get her big sister’s bed, so I absolutely used this tactic to get her excited about it.
It’s a good idea to put their new bed in the same place and position that their crib was, and I would also keep the same blanket at first, even if it seems too small. This will be a lot of change to adjust to, so keeping things familiar will help them feel comfortable and safe. If there are a lot of other changes happening in their life at the same time, it may be too much for them to handle and you may see some backlash. Keep their daily routine similar for a while, especially their bedtime routine. With that being said, this phase tends to be a great time to introduce a Reward Chart, and a Toddler Clock. Download my FREE printable Reward Chart here.
Many parents decide to move their child to a big kid bed because they are expecting a new arrival. Who wants to buy a second crib, after all!?
It’s best not to rush the transition just because you are expecting. You want them to be truly ready. If you believe that they are, I would move them about two months before their new sibling takes over their old crib. Making the transition too close together can cause some resentment towards the new baby, and we don’t want that! It will also give them time to adjust to the new bed before their world gets rocked by the new family member.
I hope that you have found this helpful in understanding WHEN and HOW to move your little one to a big kid bed! Remember that change is hard for a lot of us, and some children have a particularly hard time with it. Be patient with them and try to be consistent with your reactions, as well as your daily routines.
With Jane’s helpful advice, you’re now all set to transition your child from a crib to a bed. If you need support with this important change, don’t hesitate to reach out to her with questions:
Jane Anderson, Certified Sleep Coach, Counting Sheep
Good luck and sleep tight!