You might be wondering if it is time that your little one makes the big move from their crib into a big-kid bed. How do you know if it is the right time and how do you make the transition easier on everyone? Read on for some tips on when and how to make the big change.

Why transition to a big-kid bed?

You may have lots of reasons to want to move your child into their big-kid bed, but the most important question to ask is – are they ready? Some parents assume that if their child isn’t sleeping well in their crib, maybe they will sleep better in a toddler bed. Generally speaking, if your child isn’t sleeping well in their crib, the toddler bed will not help and will probably make things worse. If your child is trying to climb out of their crib, you can try dropping their mattress lower, dressing your child in a sleep sack to make it difficult to climb out or if you have a crib with one side higher than the other, turn it around to make it difficult to climb out. If none of these work and you are worried about safety, then it might be time to transition to a big-kid bed.

Signs your child is ready to say goodbye to the crib:

  1. Your child is as close to 3 years as possible or older (most children under 3 lack the impulse control to stay in bed).
  2. You are worried about safety and your child is attempting or able to climb out of their crib.
  3. Your child is asking for a big-kid bed and understands imaginary boundaries.
  4. Your child has physically outgrown the crib.

Many parents think that the arrival of a new baby into the house is a great reason to move their child to a big bed. If your child shows all the signs of readiness then go for it, but make sure the transition happens at least 3 months prior to the arrival of the new baby because you don’t want your toddler to think that the baby is outing him from his precious bed. If your toddler isn’t showing signs of readiness, consider purchasing a new or used crib for the baby and waiting until your child is ready for the big move.

How to transition your child to their big bed:

  1. Safety first! Make sure the room is free of hazards and have all the furniture anchored to the wall. Buy a guardrail for the new bed to stop your child from falling out. You want to make sure it is a safe sleep space for your toddler.
  2. Let your child be involved. Toddlers like to be in control so allowing them to choose the bed or help put their new bed together can make them feel part of the decision making process. Make their new bed cozy and nest-like by using your child’s favourite stuffies and familiar bedding. I recommend keeping the new bed in the same location as the crib so your child’s perspective is familiar as well.
  3. Talk to your child about the changes and communicate the rules and boundaries associated with the new sleeping arrangements.
  4. Consider adding a night-light such as the Ooly, so your child can feel safe and secure as well as helping to establish the nighttime rules. Your child needs to know that nighttime is for sleeping, not for jumping in and out of bed at all hours of the night.
  5. Have a plan to conquer those nighttime and early morning visits and stay consistent.
  6. Finally, like all things parenting, be patient and have a sense of humour. It may take 2-3 weeks for your child to adjust to their new sleeping arrangement, but before you know it the crib will be a distant memory and your child’s new bed will be one of their favourite places.

If you need some help with the transition to a toddler bed, send me a message and we can come up with a plan together.

Hali is a maternal and child sleep consultant and owner of Sound Sleep Consulting.  Hali provides tailored solutions and support for moms to be, infants and toddlers experiencing sleep issues.


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Author: Hali Blake

Maternal and Child Sleep Consultant and Owner of Sound Sleep Consulting.