When to Transition to A Toddler Bed
Updated: Mar 31
One of the biggest reasons and MISTAKES I see for parents moving their kids to a big kid bed, is because they’re hoping it will solve some existing sleep issues.
When to Switch Out of the Crib
One of the most common questions I get asked as a baby sleep consultant is, “When should we move him into a big kid bed?” My favorite answer to this is, “Later,” and there are a couple of reasons why I say that.
Number one is because there are so many other priorities when it comes to your baby’s sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine, teaching independent sleep skills, getting your baby accustomed to a schedule, are all things that should take place before you worry about moving him out of his crib.
Believe me, it’s going to be a lot easier to make the transition out of the crib once you’ve got a good, skilled sleeper on your hands. Unless you’ve got a new baby on the way and need to make some space in that crib, there’s just no reason to push it.
Don’t look at transitioning out of the crib as some kind of developmental stage that your child should reach at a predetermined age. They’ll get there when they get there, and there’s no harm if it’s later rather than sooner. Toddlers will inevitably notice that they sleep in a different bed than their parents, or their older siblings, and will show interest to make the switch out of the crib.
If your little one has started the “escape artist” routine, and is climbing out of their crib in a dangerous way, this can be harmful. However, I should actually throw in a little disclaimer here. If they’ve got the skills to get out of the crib safely, (and some kids I know are exceptional at climbing out of their cribs) then, I once again recommend sticking with the crib.
Mistakes of Switching to a Toddler Bed
One of the biggest reasons and MISTAKES I see for parents moving their kids to a toddler bed, is because they’re hoping it will solve some existing sleep issues. Maybe baby’s gotten into a habit of wanting to climb into bed with Mom and Dad, or they’re suddenly waking up and demanding a glass of milk in the middle of the night. So maybe transitioning to a toddler bed would help them feel more grown up. Maybe it would give them a feeling of security and comfort.
It will not. Full stop.
With all of the other consultants I network with, to my knowledge, none of us have ever seen bad sleep behavior solved by moving baby to a new bed. I would say 2½ years old is probably the earliest you want to implement this change. But again, that’s just a guideline, and later is better.
How Switch Out of The Crib
So, now that I’ve told you to wait as long as possible, how about those of you who have done that already, and are now making the switch out of the crib?
The first thing you might notice is how quickly and easily your little one makes the transition. Your little one climbs into the new bed, loves the cool print on the new sheets, and sleeps happily straight through the night. So maybe you’re in the clear! Or maybe you’re not.
There’s typically a honeymoon period with the big kid bed. Kids initially think they’re great, but then, after a couple of weeks, they start to wake up and leave their room in the middle of the night, asking to get into bed with mom and dad.
You may be tempted to comply with this request, but I strongly suggest you put an early and absolute moratorium on bed sharing at this point. If your child starts leaving their room in the night, walk them back, tell them it’s not allowed, and let them know what the consequence will be if they do it again.
Again, regardless of how sweet the request is, or how easy it is to let your little one climb aboard, don’t give in, or you’ll be dealing with nighttime roaming for months.
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