There is no perfect time to move a toddler from their crib to a bed, but eventually, all children will meet this major milestone and need a bed of their own. This can be a challenging time and daunting task for many parents, but it doesn’t have to be.

Most pediatricians recommend a minimum of 18 months or when your child can consistently and uninterruptedly sleep for 8 hours at night in their crib, such as through the use of pacifiers and nighttime sleep training.

Luckily, we’ve prepared this guide with helpful tips on how best to make the transition process as smooth as possible. We’ve included information, including a checklist of things to consider beforehand, from the preparation to making the actual switch.

A Few Factors To Consider To Determine Readiness

A toddler bed with blue sheets
A toddler bed

So, what should you be looking for when moving your toddler from a crib into a bed?

Ideally, your child will move into their own room, but if that isn’t an option for you, at least try to make the transition into their new bed start with their daytime naps. Using early-year naps like this is an advantage of settling your toddler into a bed at a young age because as they grow older, naps will be less frequent, and you’ll have fewer opportunities to train them.

A wise age for transitions?

Many parents opt to start sleep training their toddlers out of the crib when they hit about 18 months. Before going with this age, you need to consider your child’s development and examine the criteria used by pediatricians in making this decision.

By the time your child moves out of their crib to a toddler bed, they should have already developed the sleep skills needed for sleeping in an alternate environment. Most importantly, you should be confident that your child is ready for this transition. Always consider safety first and foremost when choosing the best bedtime strategy for your child.

The goal at the time of transition from crib to bed is to have:

  • Consistent sleep schedules that don’t disrupt other aspects of your child’s life due to early wake-up times.
  • A reliable nighttime routine for the child that encourages sleep in the same room, which can enable your child to fall asleep in less than 10 minutes when transitioning from one environment to another.
  • Your child has had a chance to gain control over nighttime sleep by practising falling asleep (preferably through daytime naps) and staying asleep on their own without anyone disturbing them. As well as mastering the transition and skills needed for sleeping independently in their own room.

Toddler mobility: Are they safe?

This is one of many factors you need to consider if you are transitioning your toddler out of their crib.

Due to their fast development and the fact that they can get out of bed at any time, it is quite dangerous for toddlers to sleep in a bed.

Although many of the safety concerns may have been addressed by parents to cover the waking hours, there are some mobility factors to consider if a child was to wake up throughout the night, unbeknown to you. For example:

  • Do you have a baby gate at the top (or bottom) of your stairs? If not, a toddler can climb out of bed and have an accident on the staircase.
  • Do you have locks on the doors, such as the kitchen? Whether they sleep by themselves or share the room with you, the last thing you want is to wake up and find them eating cleaning products because they woke up at night.
  • Are the rooms childproof? For example, do you have safety latches on drawers and curtain cords taken care of?

Simply put, there are many ways to make your home or baby’s room safe. However, some parents forget that these safety concerns are not only enforceable by day, but while everybody sleeps too.

Are they sleeping well enough?

It’s important that you pay close attention to any significant changes in your child’s sleep patterns or daily routine and make any necessary changes to their bedtime routine before transitioning them from a crib to a bed. Be sure they are getting adequate hours of sleep and not overtired by making changes slowly over time as needed.

Choosing The Right Bed

A low toddler bed without rails
A low toddler bed without safety rails

Switching a baby from a child’s crib to toddler bed is a big step for many, and can be very daunting for even the bravest little ones. Your child needs to find their new bed comfortable and safe. Involve your child in the buying process and have them test out different options before deciding on what to buy. Starting off on a fun and positive foot will make the transition much easier.

Toddler bed or a full-sized bed?

In terms of deciding to buy a toddler bed or twin bed, we recommend putting them in a toddler bed, to begin with. This is because toddlers have less self-control and are more mobile and do not understand the concept of staying in bed.

Nowadays, there are toddler beds designed specifically for transitioning, longevity, and safety in mind. For example, if you’re lucky enough to already own a convertible crib, this can be easily switched into a toddler bed by removing the safety rails.

Toddler beds are usually smaller and much safer than “normal” beds. For example, they may have raised edges or safety rails to prevent falls. Many of these types of kid’s beds have fun and wonderful coloring, and patterns such as cars or pictures of cartoon characters or superheroes.

Full and twin beds are higher too, which could be painful if falling out of bed. However, some advantages of having a bigger bed mean siblings can share and it will last longer through the years, in terms of length of usage due to its size. Toddler beds are only good up to the age of around 5.

Despite all of these factors, most kids who transition to a toddler bed simply do so without any problems or problems that are resolved within a couple of weeks.

Storage beds

You also may want a storage bed since these will come in handy when organizing your child’s toys and other essentials inside their room. These usually have plenty of space underneath them, and kids love being close to their toys. Placing them in a storage bed where they’ll sleep is a great way of making your toddler’s bed more enticing.

Your child will probably like this arrangement right away, which has been known to work by many families as an effective short- and long-term solution.

Bunk beds

While a bunk bed is a great space-saving solution, it’s not the safest option for children under the age of 6 and even older if you’re thinking about the top bunk.

Choosing the right mattress

If choosing to transition to a toddler bed, there’s no reason why the current crib mattress shouldn’t fit in the new toddler bed, as most crib and toddler mattresses are the same dimensions.

However, if moving to a bigger bed, you will most likely need a new mattress unless you have something in place already. Some people want memory foam mattresses for comfort, and others want to stay away from them. There are also mattresses made of different materials, like natural organic latex, which can make the transition from a crib to a bed more appealing for some parents. Check our article on the best mattress for kids to learn more about this topic.

Making The Process Easier

baby boy sleeping on a bed

The following are some tips on how to transition from a crib to a toddler bed, whether in a shared room, or a room of their own:

Trying a different approach

Your toddler might not fancy the idea of a raised bed, especially if it’s an adult-sized full or twin bed. If so, you can try using a small mattress on the floor of their new room or a portable crib or play yard for a few nights until they get used to bedtime in their new environment. After a few nights, slowly encourage them to try their new bed.

Comfortable surroundings and bedding

Think about how to make your child feel comfortable sleeping in their new bed. Make sure that your child is coping well and that they are having fun discovering how comfortable it is. Some children like to be surrounded by their favorite pillows and blanket when they sleep. Others want to lie on top of the covers.

Make sure they have some things they enjoy having with them, like their favorite stuffed animals, toys, or a blanket. Some kids need some time to get used to this new arrangement in their life, but most of them adjust just fine.

Ask about what they like. You might need to try out a few different options until you find one that works for them. The bedroom should be a peaceful place so make sure everything is running smoothly while they’re sleeping in there. You may also wish to move other things around to help create a quiet, comfortable atmosphere for them during their new bedtime ritual. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask them what they are comfortable with.

Keep them calm

If you want your child to realize that sleeping in a bed is peaceful and relaxing, try using essential oils for relaxation before bed. This has been found to work well with adults and even kids as it helps them sleep better. Essential oils can also help purify the air.

You can also help the transition to a toddler bed by putting on some relaxing music or white noise for a few nights if they seem tense.

Try new things

If you can think of anything to help your child feel more comfortable at night, don’t be afraid to try it out. It’s OK if it doesn’t work out the first time or even the second. You can always try something different the next night if it doesn’t work for them. The important thing is to ensure your child is going to bed happily and sound asleep every time they are in their new bed.

Create a bedtime routine

Make sure that they are getting some good sleep every night and that they aren’t going to bed too late or too early. This will only lead to sleep deprivation and make it hard for them to fall asleep at night when it’s time for bed. You can also use daytime naps as an opportunity to reinforce your child’s good sleep habits. Be consistent with this so that their body knows what is coming and gets used to the pattern of falling asleep in the bed over time.

Summary

Putting a toddler to sleep in their own bed can be fraught with struggles and tears. There are many nights when you will feel like you’ve tried everything and the problem isn’t going away, but don’t lose hope.

If your child relies on you for help sleeping, keep this up until they’re sleeping independently in their own beds. This can take weeks or months, but it’s worth the effort to see their transformation from a child who needs help falling asleep to one who falls asleep quickly and quietly without you at all.

Have patience and avoid becoming frustrated as you move from crib to bed because your toddler will get there in time.

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