Here at dadada baby, we’re all about milestones. One of the biggest (and most bittersweet) milestones for your toddler is the switch from crib to the late-night freedom of their very own big kid bed. And like all first big transitions, it comes with a lot of unknowns and big questions. When is the right time to make the move? How do I convince my tiny explorer to stay put all night long? What if they don’t want to let go of their crib at all?
Since we’re pretty big fans of toddler beds around here, we thought we’d take a moment to answer some of the most frequently asked questions around the toddler bed transition. The good news is with a little preparation and a lot of patience, your little one CAN and WILL become a champion big-kid bed sleeper!
Let’s start at the beginning:
Q: When is the right time to transition to a toddler bed?
A: Like so many things in parenting, there’s no one right answer to this question, except when it’s the right time for your specific child! But there are a few ways to tell what the right time for your toddler will be. If you have a climber, it’s time to transition when they are able to (or at least getting pretty close to being able to) climb out of their crib with the mattress set in the lowest possible setting. Once they’ve mastered the crib climb, it’s time to start transitioning ASAP to keep them safe.
If you have a child who doesn’t seem motivated to climb out of their crib, there’s less of a rush. It’s a good idea to start asking questions around the 24-month mark - see how they feel about the idea of a big kid bed transition. If they seem hesitant, try a few fun books on the subject - show them how much Elmo loves his bed, or laugh with this sweet too-tall giraffe. Don’t push or rush the transition, especially if their world is full of other big changes like potty training or preschool. But continue to bring it up gently and consistently - the longer you wait to start talking about transitioning, the more emotionally attached your toddler might become to their crib.
If you’re going to need the crib for a new sibling, and your toddler is at least 18 months old, make sure to start their transition to a toddler bed at least a couple months before the new baby arrives. That way, they’ll have plenty of time to adjust to seeing their new bed as their sleeping space, and not feel the need to compete with their new sibling for comfy crib ownership.
Q: What sort of bed is best for my toddler?
A: You’ve got a few great options! The first is the convertible crib. Convertible cribs offer big pros like familiarity, cost-effectiveness, and ease. When your toddler is ready, their crib transforms into a toddler bed (usually with the help of a purchased-separately conversion kit). You’re spared the juggle of trying to fit two pieces of furniture in the room while you make the switch, and your toddler gets the cozy comfort of the same mattress and materials they’re used to! You can find our collection of modern, quality-built convertible cribs here.
Another option is a fun and stylish toddler bed! Toddler beds have the benefit of new-toy appeal- they’re cute, comfy, and if your little one likes new things and embraces change, they might help get them excited about leaving their old crib behind. Look for a toddler bed that can utilize your crib mattress well (no gaps or too-tight squeezes), comes with safety rails to help little ones learn to stay in bed, and is easy to climb in and out of. Our Muse Toddler bed is a great option, especially if you’ll be using your crib for a sibling on the way!
Q: My toddler won’t stay in bed! What do I do?
A: First, take some big deep breaths - this transition is going to test your patience a little. For the first time ever, your toddler can get up and explore at any hour of the day or night - and a lot of them will test the limits of that new freedom with absolute glee! You might wake up to find your little one in bed with you, or playing with toys in their bedroom, or pulling the towels out of your linen closet at 2am (true story, don’t ask). Here are a few things you can do:
Childproof like you’ve never childproofed before. This is the childproofing Olympics. It’s time to employ those safety locks, baby gates, door alarms, and any other tools in your arsenal to make sure that when your toddler gets up to wander, the amount of trouble they can get into is limited. Try to think like a curious toddler - get down on their level, see what’s in reach and in their sight-lines, and do you best to set them up to succeed.
Practice the silent, calm return. A lot of toddlers will take a few weeks, even a few months, to master the art of staying in bed. When your little one gets out of bed and finds you, walk them back to their new bed calmly and silently. Don’t make it fun or interesting, don’t express frustration or disappointment - your goal here is to be as boring as possible. Eventually, they’ll learn that getting up isn’t particularly fun or rewarding and get better at staying put.
Ramp up the bed appeal. Let your toddler help choose bedding, stuffed animals, or books to keep nearby. Hang some sweet star lights on the ceiling above their bed, or project some soothing images to watch. Lean into what they love to make their new sleep space restful, appealing, and exactly the sort of spot they want to stay.
And lastly, stay patient. This transition is best done slowly, over weeks or a couple months, and with expectations set to full toddler realism. Expect setbacks and regressions. Expect sleep to be rocky for a bit. Expect lots of unexpected late-night snuggles. And do your best to embrace them - after all, this is one of the first major steps away from babyhood and into childhood. These sweet baby days are precious and fleeting.
There are so many beautiful adventures yet to come.
Have you transitioned your toddler to the Muse Toddler Bed or one of our crib conversions? Share your best tips and cute pics with us using the #dadadamoments or #dadadatoddler