How to Transition a Toddler from Crib to Bed

Transitioning your toddler from a crib to bed tips!

It can be such an exciting time when you transition your toddler from a crib to a bed.

There is the excitement of being able to get to sleep in their “big kid” bed, picking out new sheets and having all that extra room to roll around (or jump on).

It is likely going to be a bit stressful for both you and your child. While you might be excited to get rid of a bulky crib and not have to worry about your little one climbing out all the time, it can be a scary experience for them.

As a parent, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns with this milestone transition.

Don’t worry, I’m here to help!

When Should You Transition Your Child From a Crib To A Toddler (Or Big Kid) Bed?

There is no “right” answer to this question, it all depends on your child, their abilities and behaviors.

One of the biggest determining factors is that they should be able to climb in and out of the bed themselves. This is for either a toddler bed that is lower to the ground or a regular twin size bed or larger. 

While it is not a hard and fast rule, transitioning a toddler from a crib to a bed generally take place between 18 months to 3 years. Often times kids will let you know they are ready when they start to crawl out of their cribs.

Being able to crawl out of a crib can present some dangers as well. Climbing greatly increases the risk of falls, getting an arm or a leg caught in a crib railing, or other potential hazards.

What Kind of Bed Should I Transition My Toddler To?

If you already have one of those nice convertible cribs to toddler beds, then use that! There is no need to go out and buy a new bed if you already have one available.

The biggest thing to avoid is a top bunk bed or anything that is raised high off the floor. This, again, is a recipe for falling and a trip to the ER.

It is wise to have a guard rail in place on the bed that they will be transitioning if it is a twin size or larger to prevent them from rolling out.

There are so many neat toddler beds out there, if they are able to, let them help you shop for one and pick on that they will be excited about sleeping in.

What Are Some Other Safety Risks to Consider When Transitioning From a Crib To A Bed?

  • Make sure the bed is not near a window, electrical cords, lamps, blinds cords, chipping paint, draps or any other potential strangulation, choking, or falling hazards.
  • Place something soft on the ground just in case they fall out.
  • Make sure all hardware on the bed is properly secured and not loose.
  • Put a motion alarm outside the door incase they try to leave the room during the night.
  • Make sure that dressers, TVs, bookshelves and anything else that could fall over is bolted to the wall, for WHEN they try to climb on it.
  • Remove any potentially dangerous materials from the room, anything they could put in their mouth that they shouldn’t, like LEGOs!

How to Make the Transition Smooth

Lessen the stress of the transition with these six tips.

1. Introduce Your Toddler Early

Get them excited about moving to their big kid bed. Talk about how cool it is, have them pick out new bedding or the actual bed, make the bed, and even cover it with their favorite stuffed animals. Whatever you can do to get them excited about moving out of their crib and hitting this cool big kid milestone.

Don’t hesitate to move the bed into their room alongside their crib, if there is enough room.

2. Let Your Toddler Help

This goes hand in hand with introducing them to their bed before actually moving them into it. Let them help with as much of the process as possible. From picking out the bed and bedding to actually assembling and moving everything. The more that they help with the process, the more excited they will be about it.

Some kids are more attached to their cribs than others and this might make the transition more difficult, but it’s not impossible.

3. Make Sure the Room is Toddler Ready

Look at every inch of the room to make sure that there is nothing that they can get into. Toddlers are shifty and find things that you may not have ever thought of to get into.

Make sure things are secured to the wall; there is no chipping paint or cracks in the wall where they could eat drywall.

Also make sure you have a way of preventing them from getting out of the room and wandering around the house unattended. Having motion alarms is very helpful.

4. Start Slow

Have them spend more time in their room and with their new bed. It might be easier for some kids to start during naptime rather than right away at bedtime.

Don’t try and transition them into their big kid bed while other things are going on. If they have just started potty training or going to school or daycare for the first time, you should hold off on switching beds. Trying to do too many things at once is only going to overwhelm them and make the situation even more challenging. Not to mention, stress out mom and dad even more.

5. Move Up Bedtime

When your toddler is learning to sleep in their big kid bed, it is inevitably going to take them longer to actually fall asleep. It is helpful to move up their bedtime so they are still getting an adequate amount of sleep.

It might be helpful if you have a camera in their room so you can keep an eye on them. There are several cameras that allow two way communication so that you can tell them to get back in their bed if they keep getting out.

6. Tips for During the Night and In the Morning

They are likely going to either fall out of their bed and or fall asleep on their floor more than once.

It’s ok, it is not going to stunt their development if they sleep on the floor a few times.

If your kids are pretty sound sleepers you can move them into their beds after they fall asleep on the floor. If you are afraid to move them, then don’t, just let them be.

When it comes to the morning, don’t rush in there right away and grab them out of their beds. Let them play by themselves for a bit. As long as they can’t get into trouble or hurt themselves, they will be fine. Getting them an alarm that tells them when they can get up is helpful. 

Don’t be afraid to try different things, like nightlights that project stars on the ceiling or a light up moon.

Some kids also benefit from a weighted blanket or toddler bed tent to help them feel more secure.

Transitioning from a crib to a bed can feel more open and thus not as secure for your little one. Helping them to feel more secure, safe, and comfortable will help them to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

Handling the Challenges

Oh and challenges there will be!

There are going to be times when you wonder why the heck you are even trying to get them in a big kid bed in the first place.

The biggest thing that you and your partner need to do is remain consistent in your efforts.

Just like with potty training, you need to be consistent and reward your child for listening and staying in their bed.

Rewards can be simple, like a sticker chart with a larger reward for staying in their bed for a whole week (dollar store toys are great for this!)

Whatever you do, try and avoid just letting them stay up until they pass out. This is not going to help you one bit.

They will only be crabbier the next day and will expect to be able to stay up again the following night.

I know that it can seem like an eternity to try and get them to stay in their beds if they keep getting out, but again, just be consistent. Tag team it if you can so you don’t get too stressed out over it.

Try to develop a strong nighttime routine if you don’t already have one.

This can be something like reading a specific book, singing a song, or just snuggling for a bit. Stay away from screens though, looking at a screen is not going to help them fall asleep and will only mess up their circadian rhythm.

Each and every kid is different when it comes to these big transitions.

Do your best and give your little one the best possible resources that you have available to transition them from a crib to a bed and don’t stress about it.

Remember to pin me!

Leave a Reply


These are fantastic tips. I wish I had seen this post 5 years ago when we first started transitioning our son to his bed from his crib. It was…challenging. Now the biggest challenge is getting them to sleep in their own beds and not come crash in ours each night 🙂Reply to Megan