How to Transition a Toddler from a Crib to a Big Kid Bed, even if you’re not ready

Posted October 10, 2016 by Julie in Parenting, TopPosts / 50 Comments

Every night there are tears. Every night a battle. I find myself repeating the same phrases.

“Please go to sleep,” I say pleading.

“Lay down” and “stop jumping” I beg, as I am worried he may hurt himself.

I may not want to admit it, but it is time. My son has informed me that he no longer intends to sleep in his crib, and now I must face a scary milestone: transitioning my toddler from his crib to a bed.

Toddler crib to bed transition tips #parenting #toddlers #momlife

How to Transition a Toddler from a Crib to a Big Kid Bed, even if you're not ready #parenting #toddlers #momlife

Crib to Toddler Bed Transition

This is a scary milestone, isn’t it? Taking a child from a confined safe place like a crib and letting him freely roam his bedroom is something I was hoping to postpone for quite a while.

But I’m not really in charge here, am I?

The baby leads the way to his milestones, without asking me for permission.

How I knew When to Switch my Toddler from a Crib to a Bed

There are signs to look out for that help us realize our children are ready to move out of the crib. These are the signs I noticed that informed me it was time.

  • When standing up, his armpits are above the horizontal bar on the front of the crib. This shows he could climb out.
  • He jumps and bounces in his crib. One good bounce and he could launch himself out of the crib.
  • Throwing himself against the crib rail. Yes, one time hard enough to give himself a bloody nose. That was fun.
  • Immediately starts crying and protesting upon being laid in the crib. While not an indicator by itself, combined with the others is compelling.
  • He likes to climb onto our beds and cuddle with us.


How I Transitioned my Toddler from a Crib to a Bed

We already have a bed in my child’s bedroom. I’ve slept on that bed many nights when he was an infant, and I nursed him on that bed. We also sleep on that bed when he wakes in the night and can’t go back to sleep without me holding him. So he is very familiar with this bed and often crawls onto it by himself. If I were going to introduce a different bed, a toddler bed maybe, I would have it in his room for a while and let him get familiar with it before making the change.

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Having the bed idea already planted in his mind, what I had to do next was ensure his room was safe. He rarely spends any time in his room alone, so there were still a few things we needed to baby-proof.

Here’s a list of the baby proofing we did in his bedroom, either before or as part of the out of crib transition:

Toddler Crib to Bed Transition Tips #parenting #toddlers


Toddler Transition from Crib to Bed: Success

Check him out, playing on his bed before bedtime. He’s got a lot of what he had in his crib – some toys, his blankie/burp cloth, a book, his pacifier, and a sippy cup with water. Now he has a lot more room to sleep and roll around, and if he wakes he can play with all the toys in his room and not feel caged in.



Hopefully, this will help him sleep more peacefully.

Maybe there will be no more nightly battles and fewer tears.

Well, a mom can dream, right?

Over to you: Share your toddler crib to bed transition wins and tips with me!

Switch your toddler from a Crib to a Big kid Bed Like a Pro #parenting #toddlers

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50 responses to “How to Transition a Toddler from a Crib to a Big Kid Bed, even if you’re not ready

  1. Eva Birch

    Hope the transition is going well. Looks like you have all the bedroom proofing sorted! I have just come through this transition period with my youngest, it felt a lot more stressful this time around as he was a lot earlier than my other two however, all the signs were there that he was ready to come out of his crib. We went for a toddler bed instead of buying a standard single bed, I have found a great range with all the necessary safety requirements, ordinarily I wouldn’t have gone for a toddler bed but he seemed so young for a big boy bed (sob!)

  2. I happened to stumble across your post on the first night we transition our 21 month old. His climbing out of the crib has been a nightmare so we decided to put him in the toddler bed. Wish me luck! lol

  3. Michael

    where was this post a few months back? Haha I love it and will be using this to help with our 2 year old who is still struggling with this

  4. I think we were really lucky with both the boys – we had no real dramas and they transitioned really well. I had horrible visions of them keep getting out of bed when we did it but it was never an issue. It sounds like you are well and truly prepared – so I hope it goes well!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday

  5. Sounds like it went really well considering. I’m not looking forward to this. I really wish my daughter had a cot bed so she was familiar with it when we took the sides off. I’m tempted to buy one soon and use it as a cot first since your son transitioned well through familiarity. Hope he starts sleeping well! #KCACOLS

    • I think he only slept through the first night haha. Familiarity helps, but he still wakes and demands to be in my arms halfway through the night.

  6. Mine were all climbers so once they could climb out, I just felt it safer for them to be in a bed! The hard part was keeping them in it at bed time- your tips pretty much cover the precautions I took too, though the stair-gate went on their door rather than the stairs to stop them disturbing siblings!! #KCACOLS

  7. This transition is both exciting and scary to me. My munchkin is still co-sleeping and going to sleep can be a challenge. Having her sleep in her own bed would be awesome. I hope our transition goes as well as your. ?

    • We still co sleep the second half of the night cause he wakes up screaming for me ha. But at least he sleeps for a few hours giving me a chance to shower and get some stuff done lol

  8. We’re getting really close to this point. Fortunately, our littlest has not figured out that she is tall enough to climb out. I still believe that once they are big enough to climb, it’s time to consider sleeping in a bed.

    • I agree, it is about time because she’ll figure it out soon. I kept worried he would hurt himself the first time he launched himself out.

  9. Extremely helpful tips! We installed a baby gate at the top of the stairs when we converted our sons crib into a toddler bed. But it’s a scary transition and you have great points! Pinning!

  10. We had to transition the twins way before I was ready…but they were. One of them jumped out, so that was it. Naptime was really challenging, but bedtime went pretty well after the first few nights. We still have the rails up, but they never get out until morning.

    • Good luck this weekend! Hope it goes well for you guys! Us, I still have to lay next to him and hold his hand until he falls asleep, or he gets up and chases me to the door.

  11. We are debated this right now so this post is very timely! We are using the “big girl bed” as potty training motive…oh, she wants the bed but not the potty 🙁

    • Gosh potty training is a whole other issue. The bed is something they see as a positive because it gives them freedom, but I think they like not having to think about the potty heh. One day our kids will be ready for that.

  12. Samantha @ Momma Wants Java

    I am terrified of doing this with my twins, and I know it will be coming soon. My son (somehow magically) made the transition perfectly. He wouldn’t get out of his bed until we said it was okay. But with two girls in one room? Help me. They feed off of each other’s craziness, and confining them to their own beds is probably the only thing that gets them to take a nap. I’m in trouble! 🙂

  13. This is great!!
    I’m currently cosleeping with my 18 month old, as he is still breastfeeding, but I feel that introducing a toddler bed will be an idea that I revisit again in a few months. I DEFINITELY have a fear of him being alone in his room, free to roam, but I feel that you have just about covered all the bases. Thanks so much for sharing! <3 #KCACOLS

    • Yea giving a little person more freedom is a bit scary. We cosleep after he wakes up in the night. But at least he starts out on his own haha.

  14. Stacy

    We just went through this, with the exception that we co slept. Best thing ever!! We all sleep more peaceful now. Good luck momma!

    • If he had it his way, we would cosleep forever haha. This kid can’t fall asleep without touching me with at least a foot. Then I run off when he is sleeping.

  15. Great tips! I left our two youngest in their cribs WAY too long (because we were so broke back in the day that we couldn’t buy two beds, lol!) In fact, they were climbing in and out by themselves, and one in particular was showing her earliest signs of being a gymnasts as she’d hoist, launch and otherwise vault between the two cribs. Oy. Yeah….they were pretty old.

  16. I always give my kids books and toys to sleep with for that reason! My autistic three year old sleeps in a large closet with the door opened, but he’s restrained from leaving by a safety gate. It’s the only thing that works. Half the time he falls asleep on the floor and I have to move him to the bed.

  17. Love that you mentioned anchoring the furniture to the wall, that’s the biggest thing! He’ll probably still protest for a while, but within 2 months he should be used to his new bed. But yes, they could be a long 2 months 😉

    • Funny enough the anchoring the bookshelf part was the very last thing we did. He still won’t let me leave the room and now can chase me to the door so I have to wait until he falls asleep heh.

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