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How to Transition Your Baby to a Toddler Bed Safely and Smoothly

by Vannessa Rhoades 30 Dec 2022
How to Transition Your Baby to a Toddler Bed Safely and Smoothly

Moving from the crib to a big kid bed is a pretty monumental milestone for many families. The trouble with those big kid beds though? Your toddler can climb right back out (also known as Jack-in-the-Box Syndrome). A new big kid bed can be exciting, fun, and sometimes, a little scary. Let’s take a look at what to expect and some tips for transitioning to a toddler bed.

Preparing for the Transition

Most little ones aren’t ready for transitioning to a toddler bed until they’re at least two years of age – closer to three is even better. Even if your toddler is climbing out of the crib, it may not be time to move them to a big bed yet. For toddlers dealing with other major life changes, such as potty training, starting daycare, or having a new sibling at home, it’s not an ideal time to shift to a big kid bed. If you’re expecting another baby and need the crib, go ahead and start the transition several weeks before the little one arrives. For some families, just purchasing a second crib may be worth the investment if it helps everyone in the house sleep better when you’re tending to an up-all-night infant.

Talk to your toddler a few days before the change and set expectations. Taking their crib away without warning can be quite unnerving for a child who was not expecting a transition. Tell them exactly what you’re planning to do, whether it’s bringing in a new bed, placing a mattress on the floor, or converting their existing crib. Giving them a couple of days to digest this new information will help ease the transition.

“The snoring goes on, on and on through the night. They never stop snoring till the first morning light.” Ah, all those dinosaurs look so cute in their pajamas. See them yawn and stretch and brush their teeth. Soon they’ll be sound asleep, and . . . OH NO! SNORING!!! Little kids love big dinosaurs. They also love the sublime silliness of Sandra Boynton books. So what better way to wind down at the end of the day than with Dinosnores, a rhyming and rhythmic ritual of getting ready for bed—featuring a pile of loudly snoozing dinos.


Transitioning to a Toddler Bed: Tips for Parents 

Take a look at these strategies for keeping your little one safe through the night – allowing you both to get better rest (hopefully).

Toddler-Proof the Room

Many little ones can’t resist the urge to get up and explore once the bars are gone so you’ll need to make sure their entire room is safe. Cover electrical outlets, anchor heavy furniture to the wall, and install latches on cabinets or drawers. Also be sure to lock windows and exterior doors and move any potentially dangerous objects, like electrical cords or lamps, beyond their reach. As an extra safety measure, consider installing a safety gate outside their bedroom door to keep them from roaming around the entire house. You may also want to add a nightlight so they’re less likely to get hurt if they do get up and wander around their room.

Now that baby is on the move, the Safety 1st Easy Install Walk-Through Gate makes it simple to create child-friendly areas within your home. For use between rooms, a walk-through gate makes it easy to get around the house, with no need to reinstall it each time you pass by. All pressure-mounted gates need to be occasionally tightened before they become too loose. This child safety gate makes knowing when to do this simple. When the SecureTech® indicator turns red, it’s time to re-adjust the pressure.


Begin with Naptime

For toddlers who may be a bit apprehensive about transitioning to a big bed, start with naptime. If possible, keep the crib and bed in the room at the same time, using the crib for nighttime sleeping and the bed for naps. Once your toddler has adjusted to naps in the bed, plan a countdown date for moving the crib out (for example, move one stuffed animal each day from the crib to the bed until they’re all moved.

Involve Your Little One

Let your child pick out new sheets and bedding for their new bed. Be sure to include anything that they use for comfort and self-soothing, like special blankets or stuffed animals they sleep with regularly in the crib. Read books together about switching from a crib to a big kid bed, and comment that the characters are “just like you!”

The Little Nook Berry Bunny is part of a 3-character series of miniature plush stuffed animal companions (each sold separately) that come with their own little bed made from a richly decorated and durable heavy paper keepsake box with a lid. Includes a soft plush bunny with removable clothing, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and a decorative box.


Be Ready for Some Tumbles

Chances are good that your toddler will probably roll out of the bed at some point, especially if they tend to move around a lot in their sleep. Place a pillow or a thick blanket on the floor next to the bed or, better yet, fit the bed with side rails. If the bed is high and you feel they may be injured by falling out, it might be better to place the mattress directly on the floor and remove the bed until they’re a little older.

Keep a Consistent Routine

If you’ve got a routine that works, stick to it as closely as possible. Maintaining a consistent, predictable schedule of events leading up to bedtime helps your little one feel more secure and will help them adapt to the changes more easily. That said, if your bedtime routine is chaotic and irregular and crib bars are the only thing keeping them in place at night, it might be too soon to try moving to a big bed. Try developing a bedtime routine first, then making the transition.

Protect the Mattress

Consider wrapping the entire mattress in a waterproof cover to protect your investment. Sippy cups and bottles occasionally spill overnight, and of course, there will likely be nighttime diaper and potty accidents. You can also use a protective pad between the mattress cover and the bed sheet. 

The Takeaway

Over time, your toddler will adjust to being in a bigger bed. Set yourself up for success by timing it right, allowing your little one to be involved in the process, making sure the room is safe, and sticking to a consistent bedtime routine. They’ll be sleeping like a big kid before you know it!

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