Transitioning from the crib to a bed can be complicated, but if handled correctly, your toddler will not only be safe in their new bed, but also enjoy the graduation. Here, we provide tips on the right age and how to transition your child from their crib to a toddler bed.
What’s the right age?
The question of when it’s appropriate may not have a straight answer. When a toddler is ready to transition from the crib to a big kid’s bed will vary from child to child. Different families also have their preferred age of transition. Generally, a major sign your toddler is ready for the switch is if they start trying to climb out of the crib. This usually starts to occur between 2 and 4 years old or when they are about 35 inches tall.
The Journal of Sleep and Medicine recommends the transition to happen as close to 3 years as possible. For most toddlers and their families, 3 or 3 1/2 years is the appropriate age of transition. No matter the age when your toddler moves from the crib to a bed, the two of you need to prepare for the transition.
How to prepare for the transition
When it’s time to make the transition, have your child’s new bed, mattress and bedding ready. The new bed should be comfortable and safe. If your toddler is not comfortable in their new bed or they miss the crib, the transition can be difficult.
Convert the crib into a toddler bed
If your toddler has been sleeping in a convertible crib, the transition can be much easier. Many children will resist a change of environment, but when you convert the crib into a bed, your child continues to sleep in a familiar space. Convertible cribs also meet the required safety levels and can withstand weights of up to 50 pounds.
Get a toddler-sized bed
It’s tempting to forgo the toddler-sized bed and opt for a single or full-size bed your child will be able to use into adolescence. However, there are advantages to the toddler-sized bed, even if you have to change it after two years. The toddler specific bed is lower than other beds, making it easy for your child to get into and out of the bed without risk of injury. Many toddler beds also come with safety rails. You will also be able to use the crib’s mattress if it is still in good condition. Be careful to ensure the mattress fits snugly into the new bed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also advises parents to avoid toddler bed bumpers and be cautious when using features that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Remember to confirm that all the features are firmly secured to reduce the risk of accidents.
Tips for making the transition easy
Oftentimes children are happy to graduate from the crib to the bed, but only when the transition is handled properly. Here are some tips for making the transition easy for you and your toddler.
- Allow the toddler to choose their bedding.
- Avoid transitioning during other stressful periods such as toilet training.
- Get the right bed and mattress.
- Start the transition with naps, then proceed to full night sleep.
- Avoid rewarding bed breakouts, such as allowing the toddler to join you in your bed in the middle of the night.