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Baby Matters

From the Crib to the Big Bed

July 4th, 2014

By Sharon Garcha

Getting a child out of their crib into their own “big” bed can be exciting for parents and the child, but in some cases it can also be like opening a can of worms, creating problems for all involved. 

When should I transition my child over to a bed?

From an age perspective it’s variable, with most transitioning between 18 – 36 months.  The best time to make the change is if the child is showing signs of being ready for it.

-       They may have outgrown their crib and are no longer comfortable in it:  hitting their limbs on the railing when they are moving about in the night.

-       The crib may not be a very safe place for the child anymore.  They may have tried to climb out of the crib or can climb out.

-       They may express interest in sleeping in their parents or older siblings bed when bedtime approaches, in the sense they feel they are too old for a crib.

What can I do to make the process as smooth as possible?

Parents will ask in addition to the above signs of being ready for a toddler bed if the child needs to be sleeping through the night – as some parents think that this will improve their child’s sleep, if its poor. 

In our experience most children who transition to a toddler bed from a crib, do better if their quality of sleep is already good.  However if it were not, you would want to work on changing this behavior before hand for an easier transition for all.

My child is ready – now what?

If your child is asking for their own bed and have some of the above signs of being ready, have a plan for the transition.

Some simple points would be:

Get them involved in taking down the crib and putting up and making the bed, choosing linen and arranging their stuffies on it?

Have realistic expectations. It is very important to let the child know that if they need to get up to use the potty or other genuine reason, they can, but otherwise the expectation is for them to be in their bed and not get out of their bed until the morning.

As most young children can not tell the time, having a visual cue / aid to help them determine an acceptable time to get up to start their day is good idea. 

If the child does get out of their bed in the night the parent should respond by taking the child back to their bed each and every time they wake up.  This will set clear expectations for the child and they will quickly learn that they need to stay in their bed for the entire night. Consistency is very important.  If you are consistent night after night, you are making the transition from crib to bed easier on your child.

It is also advisable that when you are transitioning your child from their crib to their bed, this is the only task you are working on.  If you are potty training, starting daycare or preschool, moving or going back to work, it would be a better idea to wait until the child is settled with the first task at hand before you try the move to the toddler bed.  It’s also not a very good idea to start to transition a child when a new sibling has just arrived.

Having too many things going on at once is not only difficult for your child, but also difficult for you, it can create anxiety in some children and you would not want the child to develop a negative reaction to their new bed.

Happy transitioning – a very important milestone to accomplish for all involved.


Sharon Garcha is a consultant with Cheekychops Consulting, which was established in 2007. They provide services for parents with children newborn to 5 years, and support families who need support in changing sleep habits, toilet practices and Holistic nutrition. They have worked with over 3,000 families – their premise being Confident parenting, connected happy families.

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