Is your child ready to transition from her crib to toddler bed soon? Perhaps even more important are you ready? Transitioning your child from a crib to a toddler bed can be emotional—for both of you.
With our twins on the way, and Aria – even at just three – seeming older than ever, we thought it was time for a new transition for her. She’s taking on the role of “big sis” already, and she’s pretty serious about it too! Even though we’ve gone through the adjustments of the bassinet to crib to toddler bed to big kid bed a few times over now, it never loses that “big deal” feeling and I always want to make sure they’re ready (and ahem, me too!!).
Having a plan can ease the tension that can sometimes arise during this time. It is important to be aware of your child’s feelings as she transitions during these formative years in her life. Read on for 6 of the best tips I’ve collected while transitioning my children from their crib to toddler bed, and the same applies to a big kid bed too!
6 Best Tips to Transition Your Child from Crib to Toddler Bed
1) Choosing the Right Toddler Bed
If you used a crib that converts to a toddler bed this may be a good option to start with. It can make the transition easier for your child. But if you have another baby on the way, or you didn’t purchase a convertible crib in the first place, then it’s time to explore some alternatives.
When you want to move your child from a crib to toddler bed you could try to “save money” by purchasing a toddler bed that will reuse your crib mattress. But once again if you have another little one on the way you will likely us that mattress again in the crib. Regardless, you will end up purchasing a second bed as your child grows out of their toddler bed.
My recommendation, if you really want to save money is to purchase a bed that will grow with your child. Look for a twin or full bed, to begin with, and avoid that extra bed purchase.
Also, beds in the shapes of cars, fire engines, and princess carriages are super cute, but they will inevitably need to be replaced by a more mature style bed. If being economical is important to you avoid this extra purchase. Try looking for a style that will be pleasing to your child as they enter their preteen phase.
For Aria, she’s been in a crib-converted-to-toddler-bed for a while now, yet we all still called it her crib. So for us, this transition came at the perfect time. Plus, none of our kids had beds that we could sit in with them, and I was missing those evening cuddles and bedtime stories as they fell asleep in their bed. Aria had the crib, Aliyah is in a high loft bed, and the boys have bunk beds that I can’t climb into… so looking for a larger (twin) sized bed, and preferably a daybed or something similar was my goal for the girls’ room. It was a way to create more of a gathering space to read, as well as a bed for Aria to sleep.
2) Get Your Child Involved
The best way to get buy-in from your child is to have her participate in picking a bed.
We were so excited to partner with Rooms To Go Kids to go pick out Aria’s new bed. In fact, ALL of the kids had so much fun browsing the store and everyone couldn’t help but pick out items they wanted. I think to see the different beds and options all set up truly made the interactive experience fun for them, and Aria really excited to graduate to a new bed.
Since we knew we ultimately wanted a daybed or something similar, that’s where we started, though it didn’t take us long to browse the rest of the displays set up as well, each child making a list for their own rooms and the boys checking out just about every bunk bed in store.
I was so glad we came in prepared with measurements, as this helped us to see what would fit the best. Once Aria narrowed down her choices, and we made our final bed decision, we still had one trick up our sleeve… let her help pick out some decor as well!
Picking bedding seems like almost as big as a decision for kids as the bed itself. Choosing some accent pillows and a rug was a fun part of the process, and since Aria and Aliyah are sharing a room, they both were involved in the process. Plus, Rooms To Go Kids offered quick delivery of the furniture itself, it all arrived the very next weekend AND they built and set everything up – taking the boxes with them as they left – but it was fun for the girls to be able to walk out of the store with a few favorite items in hand as well.
I was grateful that the staff was super helpful in answering our questions, looking up delivery dates and times for each item based on availability, configuring prices as we added and removed items, and even brought out chalk for the kids to play with as we made our final choices – which ended up being Aria’s new bed AND a play table for the girls’ room as well as a few accessories.
Ps. The play art table? The top flips from a dry erase board to a chalkboard, and there is a paper roll at one end as well as drawers for storage – SO cool!
Needless to say, they’re all VERY happy with the look of the space, and I can’t wait to share more of what we’re doing to continue to update this shared girls’ room (a few DIY projects are coming!).
Pro Tip: We joined the Rooms To Go Decorator Club while in-store, and it added our savings for accessories for this purchase and over the next three years at any location. Overall, we saved over $200 on accessories (the play table and chairs were included in that) and completed the look of the girls’ shared room. It may not always work if you’re not looking at accessories, but for us, even if we don’t end up using it again (we do have three years to use it!), we still saved on this purchase.
3) Child Safety for Toddlers
Okay, you have taken down the four walls that wrangled your child in for the night. She is going to enjoy a new sense of freedom whether you like it or not. Before you switch from crib to toddler bed – or any other size bed – you will want to do a safety sweep of your child’s room and your home.
Start in your child’s room there will be several items that you didn’t think twice about while you were there to watch her. Start with securing all dressers and bookshelves with L-brackets—it saves lives and is so important. Also, remove any toys that may be climbing hazards such as rocking horses or large dollhouses.
If you haven’t already made sure to check your blinds or shade cords now is the time to do so. Make sure the bed is away from windows if possible, and cut and knot any cords that your little one may get wrapped in.
Do another baby-proofing of your child’s room and home. This includes covering outlets, putting up gates at stairs and other dangerous areas, and clamping toilet lids.
If you are worried about your little one venturing out of her room in the middle of the night while you are sound asleep you may want to discuss baby-proofing her door with your pediatrician. You have to decide what level of security is appropriate for your family.
And last but not least, you might consider getting a side rail for your new bed to help prevent your little from rolling out in her sleep. You may also want to have pillows, a thick rug, or in extreme cases (like a really tall bed), another mattress by the side of the bed in case she has a tumble.
We ended up choosing a bed that sits quite lower to the floor than most, so it’s easy for Aria to climb in and out of bed, and it’s not very high if she does happen to have a tumble.
Pro-tip: Use a pool noodle tucked under the sheet at the edge of the bed to prevent most rolling-out-of-the-bed mishaps. Usually, it works like a charm!
4) Routine is Key
I’ve learned over many years with four children that sticking to a routine can make all the difference. Children like to know what to expect and find comfort in regular routines. If you don’t have a bedtime routine you may want to check out my post 5 Tips for a Successful Bedtime Routine for Kids.
If you have an established routine, stick to it, or start one before you change from crib to toddler bed.
Along the same lines as routines, it is typically not advisable to switch to a toddler bed during times that may be more stressful for your child. This would include the start of a new school year, moving homes, or when a new baby arrives into the family… even though this time, we’re hitting her with ALL of the new things! We’d been talking about it with her for a while and showed signs of being ready and full-on excitement over the idea. This is also where shopping for a new bed and bedding set together really helped!
If there seems to be any trepidation, you will want to do your transition well before these events or wait until your child shows signs of “normalcy” and comfort.
Again, if trepidation is the case, it can also be a good idea to ease into your child’s transition from a crib to a toddler bed by bringing it into the room well before you use it fulltime. Allow your child to practice sitting and laying on the bed and use it for storytime before bedtime. Begin using the toddler bed for naps only and allow your child to sleep in her crib at night.
Your child will show signs of interest in using her big girl bed fulltime, but a couple of weeks should be plenty of time to practice. Make saying goodbye to her bed a special moment.
Let her know where the bed is going – sold to another family that will love their baby as much as you love her, or saved for their future sibling. This can ease their sense of loss. Also, taking a photo of your child with her bed can show her that the memories are an important part to hold onto, not the item itself.
5) Peer Pressure
Peer pressure has it’s advantages and disadvantages throughout your child’s life. When you can use it in your favor—go for it.
An older sibling can be an amazing role model for a younger child. Having your toddler share a room, even if it is only temporary, can be a wonderful way to influence her behavior.
Your toddler will see her bigger sibling demonstrate good bedtime habits and how she stays in her bed all night long. Just like with everything else a younger child will want to mimic an older one. She will be comforted to know she is not alone in her room and will be significantly less likely to leave it in the night.
Our girls actually share a room already, so this has definitely helped, and Aria typically goes to bed really well, and so far, has done well with the transition. We’ve got a few DIY projects in the works as we continue to makeover this space for our shared girls’ room…. especially when we have girls with such age gaps, we’re working to find a good balance between styles and needs!
PS. You can find the tutorial for the really easy DIY hanging wardrobe shelf that is above the dresser in the below picture here!
6) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Parenting is constant worrying about your child’s health, wellbeing, their behavior…everything. But our stress and anxiety over an issue can easily spread to our child.
Your child will sense that something is wrong or become stubborn, difficult, or even panicked if you reveal anxiety. Do your best to stay calm during any issues that arise.
And believe me, they will arise.
Whether it is your child getting up in the night, leaving her room, or having difficulty falling asleep. At some point, you will have troubles in one way or another.
Now, I wouldn’t even begin to recommend a sleeping method for you. Every child and family is different. You will want to research various methods from pediatricians and child psychologists and choose the right one for you.
Your friends and family will always have an opinion, but use your parental gut to make your choice. And when in doubt seek the help of a professional.
Crib to Toddler Bed Made Easy
Your baby isn’t such a baby anymore.
I hope this post helps you transition her from crib to toddler bed and even a big kid bed with ease. But most of all I hope you can enjoy this new stage in her life. Each one is a precious fleeting moment, and even if there are hard nights, there will likely come the days we will miss them.
How did you help your child do the crib to toddler bed transition? Share in a comment below!