Transition From Crib to Toddler Bed

Is My Kid Ready? (Am I?)
If you are wondering if it is time for your toddler to move from a crib to a bed, you are not alone. Most parents’ question when the right time is, and it is a great question to ask your sleep consultant, they can help you make the transition easily and effortlessly. 

Just like any transition your child has made from the time they were born to now, there is no magic age this happens. With all changes, your toddler will start to give you clues when they are ready. 

There are some toddlers at age 2 who may be ready, and others who are 3 or 4. Their age is not necessarily the key to when to make the switch, however in my professional opinion I find much closer to 3 equals success! If your little one is younger than 3 years old and they are attempting to get out of their crib I would make some changes with their crib situation before making the switch too early. Putting a sleep sack on your little one if they don’t have one already. Also, if their crib has a higher side in the back it can work great to move this higher side to the front, away from the wall. 

The perfect scenario? A 3 year old who is sleeping great in their crib. I find this makes the best transition. Making the switch because your toddler is now fighting sleep in a crib often doesn’t come with the best outcome.  

Sleeping Through the Night
When you begin the transition from crib to bed, your sleep consultant is a great resource for you to have help through this process. This will be a big transition for sleeping through the night for your toddler and having a sleep consultant guide you and your toddler can help eliminate the stress and confusion they will likely go through during this time. 

Ready or Not, Am I Waiting Too Long?
Often, parents may not be ready to let their toddlers make the transition, whether it is fear of them having freedom, or facing the fact that their little one is going through another big transition. It is perfectly normal to feel that way, or to question the timing. If you are unsure, please do not spiral into self-doubt by reading opinions from parenting groups.

 Instead, work with a sleep consultant, as they are trained to work with you, and your toddler, and help you know when the right time to transition is. More often than not, it is more about how well your toddler is sleeping through the night that determines the right time to change from their crib to a toddler bed. 

Note: When your toddler is sleeping well, and wakes up well rested from the night before, the transition is easier on both of you. 

A mistake many parents make is transitioning their toddler to a toddler bed prematurely because there is another baby on the way. I get the logic here, but it can really backfire. Instead of making the switch too early, purchase (or borrow) another crib, or keep your toddler in the crib and your baby in a pack n play. Both are great options. 

Change is…. Tough
If you put your toddler into a bed without warning, and especially when they have been used to their crib, you will more than likely both be frustrated, tired, and not understanding why your toddler will not sleep, and they will be wondering why you took their beloved crib apart. 

Change does not come easy to our little ones. They love routine and grow very accustomed to what they know. There are steps to take to ensure this is done correctly if you are doing this on your own without a sleep consultant. You can do this; follow along. 

Talk it Out
Sit your toddler down and ensure there are no distractions. As with any change, you want it to be fun for them, and feel like an adventure. If you are excited, they will feel that energy from you, and in turn, they will feel excited, too. 

Your toddler trusts you, and you want to make sure that you do not lose that trust. Be patient, be responsive, and be ready for some challenges as they move from crib to bed.  

Remember to keep it lighthearted, and fun. Do not put too much pressure on them and make sure you answer all their questions. 

Keep it Fun
A great way to keep your toddler excited about their new bed, and help ease them from their crib is letting them be a part of the process. 

If it is a crib that turns into a bed, let them help you (not my favorite choice though, more about that below.) Obviously, a toddler is not very trustworthy with tools, however, they can move their favorite stuffed toy they sleep with to the new bed.

If you are buying a new bed, let them be part of it. Let them help you pick it out, or if you just need new bedding, let them help pick out something that they will be excited to sleep on at night. This is my preferred method, always! Taking a crib they have always slept in, removing the front and giving them this new found freedom doesn’t work well for many toddlers. I advise my parents move straight from a crib to a twin or full size bed. On a bed frame, with a headboard and even a footboard. You can put a rail on the side if you want. This gives the kiddo a much great sense of permanence and can make the transition much easier. After all, it’s 1 less transition they ultimately have to do.

Routine is Key
We know our little ones thrive on routine. Bedtime should not change just because they are in a new bed. Bedtimes will change as they grow and are used to sleeping in a bed. Transitioning from a crib to a bed should yield very few changes other than what they are sleeping on. 

Keeping their routine the same is very important. A new bed will be a big change for them as it is and introducing anything new or changing a pattern they are used to, will create too many changes at once for them and may cause them to digress, or have sleep issues as they try to adjust to changes. 

Just because they are in a bed does not mean they are suddenly a big kid and can handle more on their plate. Remember, they were just in a crib the night before and the only difference in them today is a new bed. Leave it at that, and no more.

Challenges, Consequences and Follow Through
The first few nights can be challenging. Or you will get a “honeymoon period” 2-8 weeks where your toddler does AMAZING and then starts to test boundaries. Your toddler will have this new freedom to get up and play, run around, and test these boundaries. 

When this happens, sit them down, and talk to them. Explain why they have the new bed, and what their expectations are. Let them know there are consequences to their actions and that the new bed is for sleeping in. Leave them with a warning not to do it again. 

When they do it again, because they will, they love to test you and call your bluff, you need to follow through. I know it is hard when their little faces scrunch up into sad faces, and a tear may fall, but you have to be strong. 

You MUST follow through, stay true to your word, and give them their consequence. Be patient, do not yell, do not get frustrated with them, just maintain that the consequence will continue to happen if they do not listen. 

Patience is a Virtue
They were not kidding when they wrote that line. When going through any transitions with your baby/toddler, patience will be tested time and time again. 

The first few nights of changing from a crib to a bed will be tough. You can do this! Remember going into this that it was going to test your limits and be sure that you and your partner are in this together. Take turns so you do not wear out. Above all, you have to know this too will pass, though it will take a few nights.

What if I Need Help?
If you get too frustrated, remember a sleep consultant is a great resource for you to help with the transitions and it is in no way a reflection of your parenting skills. We are here to help both you and your child thrive and work together during tough times, teaching you both tips, transitions, and patience. Do not let social media “super parents” make you feel that you are inadequate or that asking for help is bad parenting. Those women have more help that you can imagine and are pretending to do it all themselves. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Not only are we sleep consultants, but we are also parents, too. We know firsthand what you are going through because we have been there.

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