Updated: Aug 4, 2022
There is nothing like moving your little one to a toddler bed that solidifies the full transition to toddlerhood. It's a big leap, not only for you but also them. This blog covers tips to make the transition smoothly, including age, how to transition, toddler getting out of bed, and so much more!
You’re beginning to consider moving your little one to a toddler bed but you’re not sure when or how to do it! No fear, I’m here to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
What's the Best Age to Make the Move to a Toddler Bed?
Age is a huge factor in the success of moving your toddler to a bed. Some parents tackle this big transition early around the age of 2, but I want to warn you that this is the biggest cause of toddler's leaving their beds at night when they move to a toddler bed too early.
Transitioning to the toddler bed 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 can cause major sleep disruptions. Before the age of 𝟑 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐥𝐝 most little ones do not have the developmental capacity and language skills to understand "stay in your bed".
A toddler bed is a newfound freedom and if the switch is made too early, it can result in many unwanted trips out of bed in the middle of the night, which leads to an overtired toddlers and we all know how that turns out 😩
We realize climbing out the crib is a major concern for many parents but there are a few things you can try 𝑷𝑹𝑰𝑶𝑹 to transitioning to a toddler bed:
How to Keep Your Toddler From Climbing Out of the Crib
Please don't feel embarrassed if your little one is still in a crib past the age of 2. If your baby is sleeping soundly in that crib, why make a huge transition to a toddler bed? And trust me, it's a big transition even when your toddler is ready. Society often wants to rush our little ones to grow up quickly, but if you can wait until close to 3, it will be a much smoother transition for everyone
5 Tips to Make the Transition from the Crib to the Toddler Bed Smoothly
The transition from the crib to the toddler bed is a huge transition that we want to make slowly in order to help transfer solid sleep skills from the crib to the bed. We don't want to make this transition completely one day, as it may appear to stick initially but likely will backfire down the road.
1. I recommend to my clients that we begin by introducing the toddler bed during nap time for a few days before committing to the bed for day and night sleep. This process allows your toddler to acclimate to their new sleep surroundings but also keeping the comfort of the crib so they continue to get solid nighttime sleep during this big transition. Remember, your toddler is going through a great deal of social-emotional and language developments at this age so their imaginations are already running wild so we don't want to make a transition too quickly that could potential contribute to additional bedtime fears.
2. Involve your toddler in the process of setting up the toddler bed. You want your toddler to feel ownership in their new sleep space so allowing them to be a part of the process for setting up the bed, be it a new bed or converting* the crib into the toddler bed, will give them time to process what changes are coming. (If you're converting the crib to a toddler bed, you can use a pack and play at night while you're practicing naps in the new bed.)
3. Decide toddler bedding together with your toddler. This does not mean letting them make all of the decisions, as toddlers can become overwhelmed by too many choices, but giving them 2-3 options for their bedding will help make them feel proud of their new bed. At this age you can also have them start making their bed and establishing some independence. We love Beddy's ($50 off coupon using the provided link), as the entire bedding goes on like like a fitted sheet and the top comforter has easy zipper tabs making it trouble-free for your toddler to make the bed each morning. Beddy's provides a snug environment with boundaries, much like the crib, removing the danger of your toddler falling out of their bed at night or getting cold by kicking the covers off.
Another great option for providing boundaries for your toddler when transitioning to a toddler bed is bed bumpers! If a child gets too close to the edge of the bed, the bumper serves as a ‘passive safety’ reminder to return to the center of the bed, as well as making it difficulty for the child to roll over it. The bumpers give that extra security they need for a good night's sleep in their new bed.
4. One aspect of transitioning to the toddler bed that we can not overlook is making sure the environment is safe for our children when they are unsupervised. Remember, toddlers love to explore so they may try climbing, jumping off, etc. furniture in their room you never thought they would attempt. I highly recommend bolting or using straps for furniture that could tip over. It’s also a good idea to use a video monitor if you can, especially as they are adjusting to this new degree of freedom. The video monitor can also be used as a comfort, as you can discuss with your toddler that you are able to see them from the camera in order to keep them safe.
I also frequently recommend the use of a Door Monkey. The Door Monkey's unique design automatically locks interior doors in a slightly cracked position, helping protect little fingers from painful door pinch injuries and securing the room for safety.
5. Toddlers with a solid sleep foundation typically transition to a toddler bed seamlessly, but don't fret if there are a few bumps in the road. It's important that we continue to set limits for our toddlers, even if things get bumpy, as many children will tend to work harder each night to see what else they can add to the evening routine or even demanding to constantly change, remove, and/or add requests. Bedtime is where we commonly see tantrums because it's a transition that toddlers don't like to make because they have serious #FOMO. We often see many parents revert back to old ways or throw in the towel and let their toddler sleep with them, which is fine if that works for you, when things get rocky, but I'd like to encourage you to make the final push towards independent sleep in the bed for your toddler so everyone gets the peaceful sleep they deserve.
Remember that this can be quite a shift, and it can take a little time for new routines to settle in with our little ones. Be patient with them and yourself!
With a combined 19 years of professional experience as a certified sleep consultant and occupational therapist + 5 children between them, Kelley and Bailey are ready to help you tackle your sleep goals! Using a variety of evidence-based and real life strategies with development at the center of our sleep philosophy, we customize every sleep plan to get your family sleeping peacefully again. Healthy sleep habits (and confident parents) make for healthier, happier children.