If you’re thinking about starting to transition your toddler from a crib to a bed, you are most likely wondering when and where to start. This can be a daunting process, trying to figure out if your child is ready and looking for sure signs that it’s time to transition.
Unlike some sleep transitions, this is one that is not determined by a magic number.
For some children, they are more than happy to let you know they have outgrown their crib by showing off their ninja moves and crawling or jumping out of it—but for the rest of us, it usually isn’t that obvious. Thankfully, there are other signs you can look out for that will help determine if it is time to make the move.
Here are signs to pay attention to + how to transition safely:
Your toddler has recently reached other developmental milestones. While you want to try to avoid too many changes at once, if your child is showing readiness for change in other areas (increased activity, interest in potty training, increased verbal communication), it is a good time to think about a toddler bed. If you aren’t completely sure how he will respond, you can always ease in by introducing the bed slowly and giving him time to feel it out and get used to the idea.
Your toddler is physically outgrowing his crib. This seems pretty cut and dry, and for the most part, it is. But there are additional factors that should be considered when this is the case. Generally, when your child is tall enough (42 inches), he will start to feel confined in a crib and probably can escape it easily. If this is the case, you should start to think about making the transition soon. However, this isn’t always an indication that he is ready. It is possible that the rails aren’t set to an adequate height or that the mattress could be too high. These should be checked first and adjusted if necessary. If this doesn’t do the trick, I recommend starting to baby-proof his room, and then make the transition.
He has started to ask you or talk about a new bed. If you’ve heard these words, “Mommy I want a big boy bed,” then you should listen to your little one! Much like potty training, some toddlers might show interest very early on and some might never seem interested in switching beds. But when your child verbally expresses interest in transitioning, it shouldn’t be ignored.
He is receptive and understanding of boundaries. One of the biggest challenges when moving your toddler from a crib to a bed is the new-found ability to move freely about his room. If you have a difficult time with boundaries as it is, then bedtime with a toddler bed likely will be no different. But if your child has shown the ability to listen to and respect boundaries that are clearly given, transitioning will be that much easier.
Your toddler starts to have trouble sleeping. Not to be confused with refusing naps or bedtime, often times suddenly toddlers will start waking up in the middle of the night or earlier than normal. This is usually an indication that he is uncomfortable in his crib, and it is no longer a sleep-promoting environment for him.
If you think your toddler is ready to transition, safety is always the top priority.
You can follow these guidelines to make sure you are making a healthy transition:
- When you purchase a toddler bed, it should be no more than three feet off the ground.
- Spend extra time making sure the room is fully baby-proofed—you can even ask for an extra set of eyes or hire an expert to help. And when it comes to items in a toddler’s room, less is definitely more.
- You also need to think about what would happen if your child were to get out of the room. Are there stairs nearby or areas that might be dangerous outside of his room that you need to consider? If so, those areas should be safety checked as well.
- Try to find a toddler bed that has sides or rails to avoid your child falling out.
- Carefully consider where you place the toddler bed, away from windows and vents.
Remember, your child is unique and may transition earlier or later than other children you know. Focus on being prepared now, and when the time is right, the transition will be that much smoother!