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Move Your Toddler Into a Big Kid Bed With These 5 Easy Tips

Transitioning your toddler from a crib to a big kid bed can be tough. Use these tips to make it easy.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Sleep, Mental Health, Nutrition and Supplements Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
4 min read
Young brother and sister wearing pajamas and jumping on the bed
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If you've got an escape artist on your hands, it's probably time for the fabled "big kid bed." The transition from a crib to a toddler bed is a time of change -- for both of you. And, it can be difficult for your little one to adjust to their new bed. So how do you ensure your child is safe and the transition is as seamless as possible? It can be a little tricky; that's why we pulled together a list of tips to help you along the way.

When is my toddler ready for a big kid bed?

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Most experts recommend that you switch to a new bed after they turn three. Three-year-olds typically have the behavioral control and communication skills to handle the change. Every child is different, so there's no magic date when you should move them to a big kid bed. When you choose to replace the crib is based on your child's development. 

One of the most significant signs that your child is ready for their next bed is if they can climb out of their crib. This typically happens when the height of the crib railing is less than three-quarters their height. Once they can climb out, there is no keeping them in. Another marker you can look for is if your toddler can sleep on their own at night or if they are asking for a big kid bed.

5 tips for moving your toddler into their big kid bed

1. Make sure the time is right

The first one is obvious, but you don't want to rush this process. It's a big change and a lot of newfound freedom. If they aren't ready for it, it will be a headache for you in the long run. They need to understand the boundaries that the new bed has, and you need to be consistent about enforcing them.

You don't want to switch their bed during big changes -- like potty training or starting daycare. If your child has trouble sleeping, try and address those troubles before you introduce more change.

If there is a sibling on the way, that does introduce somewhat of a timeline. We get it; the last thing you want to do is buy another crib. It's best to start the transition roughly two to three months before the baby comes. That way, they've settled into their new big kid bed before the newest addition joins the family.

2. Childproof their room

Your child's room is probably already pretty safe. The new freedom they have without your watchful eye can introduce new safety hazards that you may not be considering. A good trick is to think about things from a roaming toddler's perspective. 

Things to look out for:

  • Toddlers are curious: Things like cords and curtains are like a magnet for toddlers. Make sure they are out of their reach to ensure they don't tug on them. 
  • Toddlers like to climb: Whether it is a dresser or a bookcase, they will try to climb it. It's important to secure all furniture to ensure nothing falls on them. Also, make sure windows are locked to prevent falls. 
  • Toddlers touch everything: Make sure outlets are covered so little fingers don't find their way in.

3. Stick to the same bedtime routine

You probably already have a bedtime routine with your toddler. The good news is that you've already done the hard part. Now the only thing you need to worry about is keeping things consistent. By making sure their bedtime routine is the same, you're keeping things from getting overwhelming for them.

Two fathers tucking their daughter into her toddler bed
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4. Practice at nap time

No toddler is perfect at sleeping in a new bed. They may be nervous about their new bed or wander when they should be sleeping. Practicing sleeping in their big kid bed at nap time is a good way to help them adapt to the new environment without fear. Rewarding them for good behavior is also a good idea. Try a sticker chart that tracks how many days they have slept in their new bed. 

If you're not ready to buy a new bed for them yet, you can take off the front wall of their crib. It will give you time to decide what bed is the best option for your child, and it helps them practice staying in bed without walls. 

5. Expect it to be a process

You should anticipate setbacks during this process. There will be times when they won't stay in bed or cry because they are scared. Patience is everything. Talk to your little one about what's happening to help them understand. 

Including them in the process will help them feel in control of the changes. To help them feel ownership (and excitement) about the process, you could let them choose something for their new bed -- like a blanket, pillow or stuffed animal. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.