When is the right time to transition to a toddler bed?

Eek! Your toddler just jumped out of his crib for the first time! Is it time to put him in a toddler bed? The answer isn’t necessarily an easy one and is not going to be a one-size-fits-all sort of deal. Most families make the switch to a toddler bed sometime between 18-36 months of age. Often, families begin considering making the switch after a toddler gets out of her crib one night.

Before you move your child to a toddler bed, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Have I already lowered the crib mattress as low as it can go? Have I removed any crib items that might assist my toddler in climbing out?
  • Is there a soft carpet or rug underneath the crib?
  • Is your toddler’s room already child-proofed?
  • Are all major dressers/bookshelves attached to the wall? Outlets covered? Cords from blinds up high?
  • Does your toddler have the physical skills to continue attempting to get out of his crib?

Chances are if you’ve answered yes to all, or even most, of these questions, it’s probably time to move your child to a toddler bed.


1. Start by Easing the transition to the Toddler Bed

If you’ve already lowered the crib mattress as low as it will go, and she is still able and willing to climb out, she needs a toddler bed. For safety’s sake, though, make sure your child’s room is childproofed. You’ll also want to make sure that you keep a video baby monitor in her room if at all possible.

In our family, it wasn’t my toddler climbing out of bed that led me to consider a toddler bed. I knew we needed to make the switch for my oldest and youngest kiddos when they stopped sleeping through the night at around 21 months old. And I mean, did not sleep at all during the night-awake hour after hour after hour. Both kiddos are fairly “animated” sleepers and roll around quite a bit. It was almost as if the crib became too constraining for them. We moved both kiddos to a full-sized bed with a toddler bed rail like this one. Shockingly enough, both automatically returned to sleeping through the night.

Other families might have a logistical need to move a toddler out of a crib, like another baby on the way! This transition can be done relatively smoothly, just make sure to make the change a few months before baby brother or sister arrives. This helps your toddler avoid associating getting “kicked out” of his bed with a new baby, which you are presumably trying to convince your toddler is a fantastic addition to the family.

Most toddlers are pretty excited about giving up their cribs, especially if you’ve done a good job talking up what a “big boy” or “big girl” they are to sleep in a new bed, and they’ve had some say in choosing their new sheets/bedding.


2. Getting them to STAY in their toddler bed

It’s typically getting your toddler to stay in their “big boy” or “big girl” bed that’s the problem.

I won’t sugarcoat it-- this might take some time. Just when you thought you were past the sleep disruptions, they’re baa-ack. The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you move your toddler into a bigger bed, the rest of the bedtime ritual should stay the same. New sleeping place, but old routine. Again, re-evaluating your childproofing of your child’s room is essential.

If your child repeatedly comes out of their room, or you’re concerned for their safety, it may be a good idea to put a baby gate at your child’s door. Make sure to let them know this is to keep them safe. My kiddos never had any desire to wander the house when they woke up; they always come directly to our room. I have other friends, though, whose kiddos would eat a pantry full of snacks before mom or dad even knew they were awake. You know your kids best! If a baby gate will help keep them safe, do it.

Best of luck to you, mama! Tell us your ideas and what worked, and didn't work for you. We would love to hear from you. Comment below!

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