Deciding to move baby from a crib to a toddler bed can be a difficult and emotional time for parents. From the physical logistics, to making sure baby (and mom and dad!) are ready and comfortable, to safety concerns, there is a lot to consider. But never fear - we’re here to help you navigate this terrain.
Although there is no specific recommended age for when to move baby to a toddler bed, the average age is anywhere between 1½ years old to 3½ years old. Ideally it is best to watch for signs of baby’s readiness and time the transition in conjunction with those signals. Read on for tips to help make this process as smooth, peaceful, and successful as possible.
5 tips to help baby transition from crib to toddler bed
Pay attention to baby’s signals and the timing.
Some subtle and not-so-subtle signs to look out for include trying to climb out of the crib (especially if you’ve already lowered the mattress as low as it can go) and asking to move to a “big kid” bed. Try not to have the big move coincide with over major life events, such as the birth of a new sibling, since too many events at once can be overwhelming and stressful for everyone.
Read about and discuss the impending the change.
There are lots of great books on the market designed to introduce baby to the concept of moving to a bed. Some of our favorites are Your Own Big Bed by Rita M. Bergstein and A Bed of Your Own by Mij Kelly. Check out The Naughty Mom’s list for other suggestions. Use these books and other personal experiences as as a springboard for discussing the exciting new time in your toddler’s life.
Make picking out new bedding an event.
Plan a special shopping trip (physical or virtual) with your toddler to have him or her help pick out their new bedding. Look for bedding that baby relates to - whether that’s favorite colors, animals, or characters.
Invest in side rails, nightlights, and safety gates as needed. The new-found freedom of a toddler or big-kid bed means that your little one will have the ability to roam, even after you’re in bed. Make sure that you have systems in place to keep him or her safe and secure.
Stick to your usual routine.
Just because you’re changing the sleeping space doesn’t mean you need to change the sleeping routine. In fact, this move will be most successful if you stick with the same bedtime routine you’ve always used. Your little one will know what to expect and won’t have the double-excitement of a new bed and a new schedule at the same time.
One other thing to keep in mind is that this process often requires extreme patience on the part of mom and dad. As What To Expect cautions: “be prepared your child to constantly pop out of bed for a drink of water, a snuggle with Mom or some other escape-from-my-room excuse. Calmly and silently return your toddler to bed as many times as it takes. Keep it as boring as possible and he'll get the idea.” Remember, the signals you send to your child are just as important to this process as the ones he or she sends to you.
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