When to make the move from crib to bed – November 13, 2018

One of the most common issues seen by sleep consultants are struggles falling asleep or remaining asleep (for all) when your little one has moved from the crib to a toddler bed. This may be due to the transition occurring too early for your toddler and now there are difficulties with getting to sleep and/or staying asleep. Middle of the night visits may start happening or bedtime battles begin as your toddler discovers they can leave their bed and their room!

Some common reasons why the transition to a “big kid” bed is made:

  1. The crib is needed for the next little bundle as you are expecting. You don’t want to get another crib so you move your toddler into their own bed. If you can, borrow a crib or purchase an inexpensive one for the new sibling. Waiting to ease the big brother or sister through that transition, even by a few months can make the difference. There’s going to be enough of a change with the new bundle. Keeping the toddler in their usual surroundings as long as possible and limiting changes for a few months can be helpful making that transition smoothly.


  1. Your toddler may have started crawling out the crib. This is a pretty common occurrence. Climbing out of the crib doesn’t mean the end of the crib! Most toddlers have mastered the developmental skill of climbing but are not ready to take on the responsibility of being in a bed. Some options are to: turn the crib around. Some cribs have a higher back and might give enough height to make it so your little one cannot climb out. Another option is to use a sleep sack. They are great for warmth, used as a signal that bedtime is coming and also deter climbing out of the crib. Put the sleep sack on backwards if your little one zips it off! If you have a video monitor, you can watch your little one and intercept when that leg begins to try to come up.


  1. Sometimes toddlers will see their older siblings in bed and they WANT to be in one too. Carefully consider if your toddler is truly ready for the big move and understands the concept of staying in bed.


Ideally, the age of three is a great time to consider making the transition from a crib into a “big kid” bed. Preschoolers who are smaller can stay in the crib even longer. If you have made that transition and your little one is having difficulty, they can go back to the crib, especially if it has been within the past six months.


A crib provides a physical safe sleep space while kids begin to cognitively grasp the idea of staying in a bed. It also gives them the sense of security, however much they test the boundaries. It’s comforting to have a predictable place to fall asleep in until they can understand the new responsibility.

Stay tuned for my next article about tips on how to successfully make that transition to the big bed when they are ready.


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