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Wondering when to switch to a “big-kid bed”? Experts say the crib-to-bed transition depends on your toddler’s readiness. A good rule of thumb is to remove the crib before your child can climb out and possibly hurt themselves. Many toddlers can climb over a crib rail when they’re about 35 inches tall or between ages 18 months and 2 years. But if your toddler isn’t a climber, it’s fine to let them stay in the crib until about age 3.
Try getting your child involved with picking out their toddler-bed accessories, such as sheets, pillowcases or stuffed animals. Talk positively about the big step they’re taking to help make it more appealing. Avoid switching to a bed when your child is going through other big transitions like potty training or starting daycare.
Toddler beds are low to the ground and made to hold a regular crib mattress. Some parents simply put their child’s crib mattress on the floor or use a twin bed with a safety rail. Once the bed is in place, it’s time to toddler-proof the room. Move furniture or toys away from the bed in case of falls and put safety gates in the bedroom doorway and at the top of the stairs. Use childproof latches on drawers so they can’t be opened or used as steps.
Once you’ve made the change, it can be a challenge to keep your toddler in bed. If they get out of bed at first, know that it’s normal. The full transition can take a month or two. To ensure a smooth transition make sure you continue with your toddler’s regular bedtime routine. It’s fine for them to keep special blankets or toys from their crib. If your child does get out of bed, simply return your toddler to bed and leave the room quickly. Don't forget to give them lots of praise when they get used to their new sleeping arrangements and stay in bed all night.
From first words to walking and potty training, ages 1-3 are amazing. Get expert advice in our Toddler-Time guide.