10 Tips for Transitioning Your Toddler to a Big Kid Bed

Big kid bed transition can be hard for some toddlers. Children, especially young children, often feel uneasy when it comes to change. For some children, it can result in a feeling of being out of control, which is very difficult for them. Even when children aren’t afraid of this transition, there is still the matter of knowing the best time to make the move from a crib to a bed. That’s why it’s important to transition your toddler to a big kid bed the right way.

When to Transition to a Big Kid Bed

  • We suggest waiting as close to 3 years old as possible before even considering the move.
  • Don’t rush it! You want to wait to transition your toddler into a big kid bed as long as you possibly can.  If your child is starting to climb out of his crib, that does NOT necessarily mean it is time to transition.  If that happens, drop the mattress as low to the ground as possible (without any gaps between mattress and crib wall) and turn it around so that the low part of the crib is facing the wall (may seem or look strange, but it works).  If you don’t have a higher side to the crib, create a “landing pad” by the crib.  Safety is a top priority, be sure to anchor all your bedroom furniture.
  • Don’t let the arrival of a second child be the reason for making the change early! An 18-month-old, for example, does not understand what these changes mean and it can be overwhelming.
  • The transition shouldn’t be a solution for bad behavior, but a reward for GOOD behavior!

Why Parents Shouldn’t Make the Move Too Early

  • Before the age of 3, children lack impulse control
    • He might understand he shouldn’t get out of bed, but he lacks the impulse control to follow through
    • Once you remove the crib walls, you remove their bedtime boundaries, creating a “jack-in-the-box” game

Signs Your Child is Ready for the Transition to a Big Kid Bed

  • “I want out!” That’s a pretty clear message that your toddler is ready when he can verbalize that he wants a “big boy bed”. Wait until he can get excited about picking out the bed and new sheets
  • Your child is getting too big for his crib
  • Your child understands “imaginary boundaries”

Tips for Making the Transition

  • Talk about the new sleep rules and the importance of staying in bed
  • Get a toddler clock
  • Read him a few books about “the big move” prior to
  • Get him excited about his big kid bed! Have him help pick out his new bed and bedding
  • If the transition timing lands close to welcoming a new baby, make the change 3 months prior to arrival to ease the transition of all of the newness

Safety note:  Make sure your toddler’s room is safety proof now that he is in a big kid bed and has the roam of his room.  Anchor all your furniture, cover your outlets and review toddler room safety with your pediatrician.

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