How to Transition Your Toddler from Crib to Bed

by Nativity Lennon

Transitioning my son from crib to bed was a challenge, but it became a necessity when he was about 23 months old because he started climbing out of his crib and I was worried about his safety. Plus, I was pregnant with my second child and wanted to use his crib for the new baby. I started making the transition about six weeks before the birth of my daughter to give my son time to adjust. The first few days were definitely tough on all of us, but we learned a lot along the way. The following are some tactics we found to be very effective.

Make an Event out of Buying the Big Kid Bed

To get my son excited about the transition from crib to bed, we started talking about to him about getting a big boy bed several weeks before we actually made the transition to get him used to the idea. Finally, we took a special trip to the furniture store and let him pick out his big boy bed by himself. My son was elated! He got to pick a bed shaped like a car and some cool sheets to go along with it. My son also helped my husband set up the bed, which made him feel like he was in control of the situation.

Take It Slow

Don’t force your child to sleep in his new bed on the first night. Take it slow and help him realize that his big boy bed is a safe, comfortable place to be. Try getting him to nap there, if possible. If he resists the idea of sleeping there, try again in another week or so. Don’t force it!

When talking about the big boy bed to our son, we emphasized that he was going to have a nice bed all to himself rather than focusing on what he was losing: the crib. Our upbeat attitude made it easier for our son to transition from crib to bed.

Another effective way to get your child used to sleeping in a bed is by staying with him till he falls asleep. You can read him a bedtime story or sleep next to him in his bed till he falls asleep. Once he gets used to falling asleep in the bed while you’re there, gradually start sleeping farther and farther away from his bed each night in a futon or mattress on the floor.

Also, while your toddler is still awake, start stepping out of the room for a few seconds at a time. Make excuses, such as, “I need to go to the bathroom” or “I am going to get some water,” before you leave the room. Gradually, extend the periods of time that you step out of the room. Eventually, you’ll be spending more time out of his room than in his room.

Wait Till He’s Ready

Like potty training, transitioning from crib to bed only works when your child is truly ready to make the change. If you find that your toddler is upset about the new set up, don’t hesitate to bring the crib back and try again later. Toddlers must have a certain level of cognitive development to transition from crib to bed. If you find that your toddler takes a very long time to fall asleep at night or gets out of his bed often at night, he may not be ready yet. When you bring the crib back, however, don’t think of it as taking a step backwards. Every child is different and some take longer than others to reach this important milestone!

Is Your Child Still Not Ready to Make the Transition?

If you’re child isn’t ready to transition from crib to bed quite yet, just make sure that his crib is large and stable enough to support him as he grows. To prevent accidents, buy your child a safe and well made crib. Even if your child doesn’t use the crib for very long, it could come in handy because you can set it aside for a future child’s use.

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