When to Transition to a Toddler Bed: A Guide For Parents

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Learn when it's the right time, get expert tips, and ensure a smooth and safe journey for your little one.

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The transition from a crib to a toddler bed marks a significant milestone in your child's early years. Typically occurring between 18 months and 3 years, recognizing the signs of readiness is crucial. 

As we delve into the process, remember to involve your child, prioritize safety, and maintain familiar routines to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Signs your toddler is ready to switch to a toddler bed

Recognizing the signs of readiness is essential for a smooth transition. As parents, observing both physical and emotional cues becomes a valuable guide in determining the right time to make this change. To know when to make the switch, look for these signs:

🧠 Physical signs

  • Your child is able to climb out of their crib – cribs can actually be an injury risk once your child is able to climb out. 
  • You can see your child’s chest above the crib railing  – this is a sign your child has outgrown their crib. Children should switch to a toddler bed when they are about 3 feet tall. 

💜 Emotional signs 

  • They express wanting a bed – possibly like an older sibling. 
  • Demonstrating independence
"Toddlers will also try to assert their newly found independence by acting out or resisting bedtime. You can head off their stalling tactics by letting them make some of their own decisions, such as what pajamas to wear or which book to read."
💡  Sleep Foundation

If you're navigating the transition from crib to toddler bed, don't miss the insightful tips on creating a peaceful bedtime routine in the article "How to Put a Toddler to Sleep" within the comprehensive guide on signs your toddler is ready for the switch.

When is the best time to transition to a toddler bed?

The best time to transition to a toddler bed is a significant milestone in your child's development, typically occurring between 18 months and 3 years

As highlighted by the Sleep Foundation, recognizing the signs of readiness is crucial for a successful transition. Delve into the process with the understanding that involving your child, prioritizing safety, and maintaining familiar routines are key elements to ensure a smooth journey during this transformative phase. Toddlers' sleep habits are integral considerations during this transition.

When is it NOT a good time to transition to a toddler bed?

  • Transitioning your toddler to a bed a few months before the birth of a sibling might lead to jealousy and resentment when the new baby arrives.
  • Avoid transitioning when your toddler is undergoing other significant changes, such as potty training, starting daycare, or moving to a new home.
  • Too many changes at once can be overwhelming for toddlers, potentially causing stress and disruptions to their routine.

How to transition a toddler to a bed

1. Make it fun 

To make the switch to a toddler bed a little easier, first try making it fun. You can read them a story in their new bed or make sleeping there more heroic. 

💡 Tip:
Let your child choose new sheets and blankets, this will also get them excited about the change. Don’t forget to reward good behavior and be patient, change takes time. 

2. Introduce the new bed into toddler naptime

Start by introducing the new bed during naptime and daytime activities, offering a familiar and positive association. This approach helps your toddler become accustomed to the new sleeping arrangement before tackling nighttime adjustments. 

Consider incorporating naptime simple tips, such as placing a favorite toy or blanket in the new bed to create a comforting environment.

3. Maintain a bedtime routine

Try to keep to your routines as much as possible, especially your bedtime routine. Keeping to your bedtime routine will keep indicating to your child that it’s time to sleep despite the change in sleep location. 

  • 🛀 Bathing: The warm water feels so nice as it washes away the day's adventures.
  • 🦷 Brushing teeth: Now it's time to sparkle those pearly whites before bedtime.
  • 💩 Pooping: Taking care of business – a necessary step for a good night's sleep!
  • 👚 Put on favorite pajamas: Slip into those comfy PJs, it's like wrapping up in a cozy hug.
  • 📚 Snuggle up with a fun story: Grab the best bedtime stories from our App – funny voices are non-negotiable! Give your kiddo a relaxing massage using our Storybook App video guide for the sweet spots – shoulders, lower back, upper back, neck, and head.
  • 🔊 Put on some cool white noise for background tunes: Check out our Storybook App's extras section for soothing sounds to create the perfect bedtime ambiance. Let your kid enjoy a meditation moment with words of affirmation from the Storybook App.
  • 💤 Light off: Time for the ultimate adventure – drifting into dreamland for a solid night's snooze.

Stay on track with this bedtime routine chart to signal to your child that it's time to sleep, providing comfort and familiarity despite the change in sleep location. Sweet dreams await! 

 bedtime routine for kids
Download this school nightly routine chart for your kids and make bedtime fun!

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4. Ensure your little one's room is always comfortable

In addition, make sure your toddler’s room is fully baby-proof (i.e. outlet covers, locked windows, safety latches, baby gate). Now that your child will be able to get out of bed freely, their room should be safe. 

In early childhood, many toddlers are gripped by the throes of separation anxiety. This is a good time to introduce a stuffed animal or comfort blanket for extra reassurance when you leave the room.
💡 Sleep Foundation

For additional tips on our blog about encouraging kids to sleep in their own beds, visit now! how to get kids to sleep in their own bed

Parents' experiences when transitioning their toddler into a bed 

👪 According to Alison Weber´s experience
“My older daughter, who tended to move a lot in her sleep, wasn't ready for a toddler bed until she was 3 or 4 years old due to a habit of falling out of bed. To address this concern and align with our love for Montessori education, we opted for a floor bed. This choice alleviated the worry of nighttime falls but posed challenges because of her age. When our second child arrived, we continued with floor beds. She transitioned from co-sleeping to a floor bed around 12 months, hoping that sharing a room with her older sister and starting solo sleep early would make the transition smoother."

The Storybook App played a crucial role in establishing a solid sleep routine. It not only provided engaging bedtime stories but also helped our child feel more relaxed in a big bed, making the transition a positive and comforting experience.”

As children grow, these adjustments are normal. While they may present challenges, it's crucial to be patient. The key is ensuring your child gets enough sleep. Remember, when your child sleeps well, so do you.

how to help my toddler sleep through the night

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