The shortest and simplest answer to this question is when your toddler demands out!
Most toddlers will send a pretty clear message that they don’t want to sleep in a crib anymore and prefer to spend their nap time on a bed. We’ve even seen kids verbalize their displeasure of sleeping in a crib, while others may make their displeasure known by climbing out of it. Regardless, it is time to think about maybe switching from a baby crib to a bed.
In our opinion and those of many experts, there is no hard and fast age for when a toddler should be moved to a crib. Generally, the switch is made when they are between 18 months and 3 ½ years old. However, it should be ideally near the age of 3; that said, the timing can and is always different for each kid.
Now, if you have purchased one of our picks for best cribs for short moms, your child may already be making a run for it despite being under 3 feet tall. In this case, too, it would be a good idea to do away with the crib in favor of a toddler bed.
Signs Your Toddler Wants to Transition to a Bed
Now we went over a couple of common signs that should indicate your toddler’s willingness to make the switch. However, there are many other signs which will indicate that your child wants to upgrade, so to speak.
Generally, you’ll see the child exhibiting some of the behavior we list below. Even if you see this behavior and they are less than 3 years old, you might still want to consider transitioning them to a bed.
Climbing out of the Crib
Many parents may scold their child for climbing out of the crib but not see it as a sign that they (the child) wants to ditch the crib. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a transition to the bed should be made as soon as the child is around 35 inches tall or 89 centimeters tall since they are big enough at this point to escape from the crib. Even if you have the mattress in the lowest position, they can still escape, making the crib a safety hazard because children are known to fall while attempting to climb out.
You’re Potty Training Them
You don’t want to potty train a child when they are still sleeping in the crib. After all, you want to make it very easy for the child to reach the bathroom, especially if it is in the middle of the night. Climbing over the crib isn’t easy, and not something that should be done when half asleep. So, switching your toddler to the bed is a great way to ensure that your potty training is effectively consistent.
Too Big for the Crib
Now, this will be the most obvious sign, but if the child can touch both ends of the crib with their feet and head, you need to get them a toddler bed. However, if you have a mid-sized crib, then this will be an issue, as opposed to if you have one of those convertibles, which are more to the dimensions of a toddler’s bed.
You Have Another Child on the Way
Now, this may only be relevant if you have another baby on the way, and your preset child is at the 18-month mark or older. However, we don’t recommend that you transition a kid to the bed if they are younger than 18 months old.
If you have another kid on the way, and your present child is under 18 months old, you might want to buy another crib. However, if they will be 18-months old by the time the new child comes, they can be transitioned on to a toddler bed.
The important thing here is not to give your toddler the impression that they are being replaced. So, you might want to start the transition at least 3 months prior to delivery. You will also want to make the whole thing exciting by telling them that another brother or sister is on the way and that you are getting a big new bed.
Tips For Transitioning Your Child to a Bed
Transitioning from a crib to a bed can take time and be scary for some children. However, there are a couple of tips that should make the transition easier:
- Buy a convertible – You might want to consider buying a convertible crib that turns into a bed. Usually, this is done by removing the front panel. The simple conversion can make the change appear less drastic to the child.
- Get your child in on the action – You will want to make the child feel excited about any change, including this one. One way to do this is to maybe get him to choose the sheets, bedding, and other ways of personalizing the bed. You will want to let them decide on buying a twin or toddler bed of their choice.
- Take a look at your childproofing – We are pretty sure you have probably taken measures to toddler-proof your home, but you also need to reevaluate it. Think if there are other safety precautions you should be taking? You may want to take steps like blocking the stairwells, locking windows and doors that may lead outdoors or over to the basement. You might also close off areas where you store cleaning products or medical equipment, or other hazardous materials.
- Don’t change their bedtime routine – You will want to place the bed in the same space where there was the crib before it if that’s possible. The same goes for putting your child to sleep. If you bathed them and read them a story before putting them to sleep, there is no need to change that routine now. Please don’t mix up the bedtime routine since it might confuse your child.
- Minimize exploration – The newfound freedom would easily translate to an invitation to roam around the bed and the room. However, it would help if you reinforced the bedtime rules. You should make sure that the final tuck-in means an end to any further requests for water, stuffed toys, and bathroom trips.
- Be patient – Your child will inevitably pop out of bed multiple times to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom or snuggle with mom. However, you need to deal with this calmly and, in most cases, silently by returning them to their bed even if it has to be done half a dozen times. You will want to make each return as boring as it can be so that they get the idea that it does not matter to you. Though you could try adding a gate of some kind, but if your kid has mastered the art of climbing over a crib, a gate may not be much of a challenge.
- Praise good behavior – If your toddler shows good bedtime habits, they should be praised for it. Give them a sticker as a reward. Then if they get a certain number of stickers, reward them with a treat, something they like but do not get very often. Doing this will help keep the child on track for the most part.