When you first move your baby from a bassinet to their crib, it’s normal to feel a mix of emotions, including sadness, hope and relief. Some families find the transition easy, while others need a few weeks to adjust to a new routine. The same situation applies when you switch from crib to a toddler bed, usually between the ages of 18 months and three years old.
There’s no one right or wrong way to move to a big kid bed—but you may be more comfortable and confident if you learn the top tricks from experienced moms and dads. Before you try anything new, let us give you our best tips for a smoother transition. When you’re done, you’ll be more prepared to handle challenges, all while feeling more equipped to keep your little one cozy and safe.
1. Make the Transition at the Right Time
Every child develops on their own unique schedule. There are a few cues, however, that may indicate your toddler is ready for a larger resting space. If your little one attempts to climb out of their crib more than once, you may want to consider how safe they are contained behind the bars. Some kids will simply grow too long for their current sleeping arrangements or express verbal interest in a big kid bed.
There’s no need to rush into a toddler bed if your son or daughter is comfortable in their crib. You may even find that your child is not ready to transition until they are closer to the age of three. When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician. Since the switch can come with special considerations, they will consider your little one’s medical history and the top toddler safety concerns to help you come to a decision.
2. Prepare for Hiccups
The most common issues that come with transitioning from a crib to a bed include new fears, the potential for night wandering and a chance for injuries and accidents. Thankfully, there are plenty of practical things you can do as a parent to prevent these challenges. First, try not to make the switch at a vulnerable time for your child, like during growth spurts, illnesses and major life changes. If you know a big milestone is happening in the future, plan on changing beds a few weeks before or after the event.
If you have the extra space, allow your toddler to explore their bed while they still have access to their crib. This approach will help them ease into a new sleeping situation without having to fully commit. You can also talk with them about the transition before it happens. Let them help you pick out a bed to make it more appealing and exciting.
3. Be Consistent with Your Bedtime Routine
To prevent difficulties as much as possible, stick to the same bedtime and don’t change anything in your usual routine. You’ll also need to pack your patience for up to a few weeks. Your child may protest or wake up more often until they get comfortable in their new arrangement. Offer extra snuggles and remind them you’re only a few doors away. Let them bring their favorite lovey to bed or give them an extra-long warm bath to help them relax.
As you finish your bedtime routine and tuck your child under the covers, ask them if they need anything else. This includes a last drink, trip to the bathroom or kiss goodnight. For their safety and your peace of mind, your little one needs to know they shouldn’t leave the bed after the door closes. When it comes to preventing injuries, clear all toys and objects from the floor before you put your toddler to bed. Double check that all windows are locked and that your safety gates are secured around your kitchen, bathrooms and stairs.
4. Gather Your Bedtime Essentials
It’s a good time to make sure your childproofing supplies are up to date. If you don’t have covers for your electrical outlets or locks for your medicine cabinets, now is the time to get them. A soft night light in your child’s room and the hallways can help them see if they do decide to get up.
Help your child feel more relaxed and at ease in their new bed with plush blankets and comfy, breathable bedding. Organic cotton is soft to the touch and lasts wash after wash. Since it’s made with quality material that wicks moisture and promotes airflow, it helps your toddler stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Patterned comforters, animal print sheets and cute toddler pajamas also make bedtime more fun. Choose toddler girl sleepwear with footed bottoms and microfleece fabric to stay cozy during winter. You can find these blanket sleepers in solid pink and green pastels, as well as adorned with heart patterns and little foxes. When it’s more mild outside, your little girl can wear a pajama set with a fun tee and shorts or a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Let her feel like a big kid in everything from precious floral prints to zebra stripes and purple swirls.
Boys can rest easy in footed pajamas in cool colors like forest green, slate grey and sky blue. Camouflage prints, rockets and footballs are also popular among the little guys. When it’s time to ditch the warm PJs for shorts, a snug fit pajama set with a pirate theme or a bunch of dinosaurs will capture your little one’s imagination. Tell them how much of a big kid they look like along with their bed. It will make them feel more proud and confident. Toddler training pants are also helpful for protecting against leaks so your child feels more clean and dry as they rest.
5. Take Advantage of a Few Baby Items
Don’t give away the baby monitor just yet. Video monitors can be especially helpful when your toddler is learning how to sleep with more independence. If you hear anything unusual, you can investigate without leaving your bed. If night wandering becomes a habit, you’ll be able to handle it before your child strays too far away from where they sleep.
If the issue is fear or anxiety, try a soothing machine or sound machine. These devices either plug into an outlet or run on batteries. Choose one that fits your child’s personality. Some play ocean sounds while casting soft, colorful pictures of fish and whales onto the wall. Others allow you to choose the color of the lamp while selecting ocean sounds, rain sounds or white noise.
Guiding Your Little One Toward Bedtime Independence
With these helpful transition tips in mind, you know when your child will be ready for a toddler bed, the types of difficulties you may encounter and which supplies you need to keep your little one cozy and safe. Best of all, you are confident you are doing everything you can to make this stage easier on everyone in the family. Soon enough, this transition will be a distant memory—and a new adventure will await. In the meantime, laugh at the challenges and cherish the discoveries!