Transitioning from babyhood to toddlerhood then childhood includes many steps to take for both toddler and parents. Whether it’s from bottle to sippy cup or from pacifier to a stuffed animal, the age in which a child transitions from crib to toddler bed varies vastly from one toddler to another.
Some babies can move to a toddler bed as early as 18 months old. Others need more time and make the transition as late as 3 years old. It all depends on your toddler’s personality, sleep routine, and parents’ willingness to go through the phase early.
So your baby has been sleeping all night lately, and you’ve been getting some rest. Suddenly, your little one goes from infant mode to a fully active toddler who wants to get himself out of the crib in the middle of the night. Even when they’re asleep in a toddler bed, and the baby monitor shows them moving around all night long, you wonder when the moment they fall off will arrive.
How do you know when it’s time to go from crib to toddler bed? The best way is to follow their lead and look out for signs they might be ready to switch. A toddler who has started potty training is starting to climb out of his crib (and sometimes succeeds!), has outgrown his crib, or has other life changes (such as a sibling on the way), is probably ready for the transition.
It will be easier if his crib can easily be transformed into a bed and if their “new” sleeping space is super comfortable (consider changing the mattress, adding a pillow, and make it an attractive warm space).
When would you want to go from crib to toddler bed?
When it comes to the appropriate age for transitioning from crib to toddler bed, there is no right age. Most toddlers are ready to transition between 1.5 to 3.5 years old.
The trick to determine whether it’s time to move your little one to a toddler bed is to follow their lead. Watch out for signs of readiness. You can usually tell that your baby is ready for a new bed in the following situations:
Your baby can climb out of the crib
Once your baby makes near-successful attempts to climb out of their crib, you might want to make that switch. Experts and pediatricians recommend that as soon as your kid is big and tall enough (35 inches) to hang over the rails, make the transition.
Aside from the fact that the railings no longer serve their original purpose of keeping your child contained as they sleep, it now poses a grave safety breach. It now becomes a hazard as your toddler might suffer a nasty fall from the top of the railings while attempting to get out.
Your toddler has begun potty training
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night with a strong urge to pee. However, before you can get out of bed to do so, you have to climb over a fence first. Isn’t that just annoying?
Your child might be more prone to potty accidents and wetting the mattress if something is standing in the way of him reaching the potty in time. Transitioning to a toddler bed makes it a hundred times more comfortable for your child to stick to the potty training program.
Your toddler has outgrown the crib
This is probably the most obvious reason that you should transition to a toddler bed. Sleeping might become more and more uncomfortable for your little one if he feels cramped in his sleeping space.
When your child touches both ends of the crib with his head and feet, that’s when you know you must upgrade.
A new sibling is on the way
If your toddler is at least 18 months old, and you’re expecting a new baby on the way soon, it might be a great and practical idea to move your toddler from the crib to a toddler bed.
Your little one can have some time to practice using the new bed, and it frees up the crib for the new baby to come.
Your toddler wants to be a “big kid”
Most toddlers feel really proud when they’re praised for achieving a milestone. When we use the phrase “big boy” or “big girl,” it makes them feel powerful.
Your toddler will want more independence, see older children with “big kids beds,” and ask to make the transition at one point. Again, following their lead is the best way.
Your child has a rock-solid bedtime routine
We all went through establishing a proper bedtime routine. In most cases, it is absolutely exhausting to reach that place where your child gets sleepy at bedtime, and everything is in place for that moment.
So obviously, don’t transition from crib to toddler bed if their bedtime routine is still fragile. Once your toddler has a steady sleepy time routine, make the transition! Don’t forget to keep the routine the same so nothing else but their bed changes.
Your toddler’s room is a safe space
The last thing your want is your toddler climbing down his bed in the middle of the night into a space that is not so safe.
To keep your mind at ease, make sure his room is safe from any potential harm.
How to Convert Common Crib Brands Into a Toddler Bed
If you’ve ticked at least one of the signs that you need to transition your child from a crib to a bed, you might be worried about what to do with the crib. If you have a bassinet or a mini crib, this might be an issue.
The good thing is, convertibles are vastly popular these days to accommodate your growing child. Try to keep that in mind when you’re expecting a new baby and coming up with baby essentials for your nursery. It could be a huge bonus for your toddler not to feel there’s a big change to his sleeping space.
Below are some of the most popular convertible cribs designed to stand the test of time and grow along with your child. They may be quite a splurge, but they are a good investment in the long run. Apart from the upgrades and extensions, you can expect these cribs to be the first and the last bed you need to buy for your little one.
Converting a DaVinci crib into a toddler bed
DaVinci cribs are popular for a good reason. They are known to be well made, sturdy, and timelessly stylish. Those three qualities make it the perfect sleeping space for your little one from babyhood up until they are grown enough to move out of the house.
It’s pretty easy to upgrade your DaVinci crib into a toddler bed. DaVinci offers several conversion kit options that allow you to transform your baby crib into a toddler bed. It is so sustainable that you can even later convert it into a full-size or twin bed when your child grows.
Converting a Graco crib into a toddler bed
Graco is a well-trusted name brand for baby products and has been for decades. They have innovated their products to suit every stage of your baby’s needs and continuously ensure that their products are updated according to safety guidelines.
The Graco promise of quality and safety extends to their crib selection as well. They have a good selection of cribs that you can convert to grow along with your little one. Each Graco convertible crib comes completely equipped with the following features:
- Each convertible design is a 4-in-1: Crib, day bed, toddler bed, and full bed. It is designed to last your child from infancy and well into their teens or even adulthood.
- Each crib-bed has an adjustable mattress height. As your baby learns to sit up and stand, you can lower the mattress to keep them in better and eliminate the risk of falling out. The lowest setting is also perfect for deciding to transition out of the crib and into bed mode.
- The designs are so classy and versatile, and the quality is so superb that it’s the only bed your child will ever need.
- Each crib-bed comes with the promise of quality and timeless style that Graco promises.
- The brand offers everything you need when it comes to baby essentials and nursery room solutions that can easily complement your crib-bed such as changing tables, dressers, rocking glider chairs, mattresses, and even bunkers.
- At around $200 for the initial crib and a few more for the extension, this convertible crib is the most cost-efficient for its quality.
Here are the top most popular convertible cribs from Graco:
Converting a Baby Cache crib to toddler bed
Baby Cache proudly boasts being the number one trusted brand of premium baby furniture for over twenty years. Their cribs prices range between $300 to $400, making it one of the higher crib investments, but the brand promises quality furniture that will last you a lifetime.
Transitioning your toddler from crib to bed
Once you have confirmed that it is indeed time to make a move, how do you go about it? You might be nervous that your attempt will be met with resistance. Your child might be too attached to his usual crib set-up despite the clear need for an upgrade.
Here are a couple of tips and tricks on how you can make the transition a lot easier for both of you:
- Aim for the right timing. Don’t make the switch when something significant is going on. Don’t make the transition on the day you start to take away bedtime bottles or on the day you bring home the new sibling.
- Do your research. Read up as much as you can about other parent’s experiences with transitioning to a toddler bed. Each child is different, and every family may experience different things, but you may pick up a couple of useful tips from others’ experiences.
- Involve your toddler. Let him pick out the mattress, the color of the sheets. Involving your toddler will make him feel more in control of the process and, therefore, more cooperative.
- Take it slow. If you have not ticked the sure signs for a transition, don’t rush into it. Take the time to talk to your child ahead of time to assess their readiness.
- Stick to your bedtime routine. If you have a habit of milk, brush, cuddles, then bed, stick to that even with the new sleeping arrangement. Also, don’t attempt to change the placement of the bed just yet. It makes things a lot more comfortable for your child as he experiences familiar things despite the change.
- Be generous with a positive affirmation. Please don’t pass up the opportunity of letting your child know that he’s doing such a great job.
- If you feel you need to worry less about your toddler falling off, you can add a safety rail or fishnet barrier. It’s removable and still allows your child to climb down. It will just keep your mind at ease and make your toddler feel safer in the transition.
- Read lots of books on their favorite characters making the transition from a crib to a toddler bed. Stories make kids feel safer. Empathy goes a long way.
While some toddlers will find the transition easy and make it fast, others can take up to 2 weeks to feel safe and at ease with their new sleeping environment. Patience is key, as with any other transition they make during their childhood years.
Making your crib mattress softer for your toddler
You might have noticed that your original crib mattress is extra firm to the point that you might have even worried that it was too hard for your baby to sleep on. The truth is, your crib mattress is just as hard as it is supposed to be, especially if you bought it from a reputable company that follows safety standards.
Your baby’s crib mattress is hard for good reason, and infants need the extra support of a firm surface to keep them safe and avoid SIDS. They generally need this at least until they’re a year old, when the risk for SIDS decreases, and when SIDS cases become very rare.
That being said, your toddler may begin to demand a softer surface for them to sleep well. You can do this in several ways:
- Change the mattress altogether for a softer one.
- Layer the mattress with a soft mattress padding.
- Use a thick quilt to add the cushion.
- Or you can get a memory foam mattress for extra comfort (see below).
Keeping your toddler warm at night
Unlike babies, you can’t swaddle a toddler to keep them warm at night. Here are a few parent-proven ways you can ensure that your little one is warm and toasty all through the night:
- Adjust their room temperature. According to the World Health Organization, homes with elderly or young children should be at a minimum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius to maintain health and wellbeing.
- Clothing is another way you can keep your toddler warm. Sleepsacks and onesies are great for toddlers who still use diapers at night. Make sure to choose the zippered ones for ease and security. For potty training toddlers, two-piece footie pajama sets are great, and the footies eliminate the need for socks.
- Thick thermal curtains are efficient and help to keep rooms warm by keeping the cold out.
- You can also layer beddings and warm the bed by popping a hot water bottle underneath the covers before bedtime.
Should I add a pillow to my toddler’s bed?
From what we know about SIDS, it is recommended to wait until your toddler is 18 months old to introduce a pillow to his sleeping space. A good age to introduce a pillow correlates a lot with your toddler’s readiness to transition from crib to toddler bed. The reason for that is that if they are ready to transition to a toddler bed, their sleeping habits and way of moving while they sleep has matured, and they can therefore handle a pillow while avoiding the risk of suffocation.
The key is to find the right pillow for your toddler that is comfortable and safe at the same time. The following guidelines can be followed to choose the right toddler pillow:
- Avoid big pillows to decrease suffocation risks. A good example of ultra-soft pillows is this one.
- Choose a firm pillow to aid the proper development of their neck and spine. This pillow is chiropractor-recommended.
- Choose hypoallergenic pillows to decrease allergy risks. That one is a great one for that.
Should I potty train or transition to toddler bed first?
Most toddlers who are going through potty training keep their diapers during the night during the first few months. You can transition your toddler to a bed after potty training or transition to a bed before potty training, but never do them together or too close to one another.
Whether you potty train or transition to a toddler bed first, leave at least a month between both milestones for your toddler to properly settle.
Should I close my toddler’s bedroom door at night?
Whether you leave your toddler’s room’s door opened or closed during the night, it is up to you. For safety purposes, firefighters recommend closing their doors as it keeps them safe. Most parents give it a try and test whether closing or opening the door at nighttime is best for them and their baby. If you choose to keep the door closed, a baby monitor with a camera can help keep your mind at ease.
Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed is a huge milestone for you and your child. For some, it marks the period when your baby officially turns into a big kid. Making the transition gentle, pleasant, and full of patience will encourage your little one to love their own big kid bed and have comfortable nights.