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When and How to Transition Your Little One from a Crib to a Toddler (big bed)

The transition from crib to big kid bed is one of those huge milestones all of us mamas often think about as our little one’s gets older — it starts to make things really real that our little one isn’t a baby anymore, sigh!

Making the transition from crib to toddler bed is also a pretty big deal when it comes to sleep, and you may be wondering if it will improve sleep or make it worse. Plus, most moms wonder when the right time is to transition their little one to a bed. Should we make that transition when our kiddos start trying to climb out of the crib or do you lower that mattress as low as it can go and hold out for a bit longer?

Ahead, I’m sharing when and how to switch your little one from their baby crib to their new “big kid” bed and how to do so as stress-free as possible.

When to Make the Crib to Toddler Bed Transition

So, when do you make this big switch? Generally speaking, most children move out of the crib between the ages of 3-4, but you may know your child is ready when:

He is at least 2.5 years old. This is the average age a child has the cognitive ability to understand the “big bed” rules and to stay in bed all night long. Any younger and the child tends to lack impulse control and exits their room freely.

He mastered the skill of putting himself to sleep at bedtime and getting himself back to sleep when he wakes during the night without any help.

He climbs out of the crib easily and frequently.

He says he wants a “big boy” or “big girl” bed.

5 Tips on How to Make the Big Switch

#1 Be Sure to Have a Routine in Place First

Ok, this one’s big — having a solid routine in place before making this transition is necessary. It will make the whole experience for both parents, and toddler, way less stressful and less foreign to your kid who's now in an entirely new bed!

#2 Make it Exciting

When your little one is ready to make this transition, make it exciting! Make them feel like it’s the coolest thing to have a new big kid bed! You could even get them involved in selecting their new bed or bedding. And, have them help you set up the bed with all of their favorite comfort items to make things as cozy as possible.

#3 Keep the Big Kid Bed Right Where the Crib Was

To keep with the theme of consistency, it also works best to keep the toddler bed in the same place the crib was. This will result in less pushback because there will ultimately be fewer changes, like a brand new room or a whole new sleeping arrangement (if you can avoid it).

#4 If you DO Have to Switch Rooms, Do So Before Making the Transition

With that being said, sometimes we don’t have a choice, and we have to switch things up and change bedrooms or move our kid’s bed to a new location in the bedroom. If you do, don’t sweat it, just be sure to do the moving around while your little one is still in their crib a couple months before switching them into the big kid bed. The goal is to make as few changes at one time as possible.

#5 Consider an OK to Wake Clock

Many parents find OK to Wake Clocks game changers as their little ones get older. It works great for kids age two and older that gives your child a visual cue that it’s still nighttime (and time to sleep) or that it’s morning and time to wake up.

This does take some commitment when it comes to teaching your child what color means what, but once learned, it can serve as a valuable tool for the whole household! Want to learn more about the OK to Wake Clocks that I recommend and how to properly use it? Visit my Ok to Wake Clock blog post here. One thing I cannot stress is lots of role playing when implementing the new clock, show your little one how it works and make it exciting. In fact, consider wrapping it and present it as a gift to your toddler.

Note: When making the switch to a big kid bed, you may also want to consider installing a bed rail on the side of the bed that’s not against the wall and arrange some pillows on the floor for safety.

You will also want to consider putting a secure gate on the bedroom door or close the door with a childproof doorknob if your child continually gets out of the room and opens the door and will not fall asleep.

Make the Transition to Big Kid Bed as Stress-Free as Possible

Making the transition out of the crib and into a big kid bed can seem daunting, and like you are setting yourself up for nights of no sleep again. But, with the right tools, it can be a fun time for your little one (and you too!)

It’s a time to celebrate a big milestone, and with a little planning, you may find the process way less stressful than you thought it would be.

If you have any questions about this big transition drop those below in the comments section. Interested in working with me? Email meto schedule a FREE 30 minute discovery call!

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