Transitioning From Crib to Toddler Bed: A Complete Guide

Are you dreading the big leap of transitioning from crib to toddler bed? It can be an anxious time for parents so let’s talk more about this worrying, but exciting milestone, providing helpful tips and insights to try and make the transition as seamless as possible.

Short Summary

  • Look for signs that your child is ready to transition from a cot to a toddler bed.
  • Prioritise safety features, size and design when selecting the right bed.
  • Establish consistent routines and involve your child in the process for successful transitioning!


Signs Your Child is Ready for a Toddler Bed

How do you know when your little one is ready to graduate from their cot to a big kid bed? There are a few telltale signs to look out for:

  • Climbing out of the crib
  • Outgrowing the crib
  • Expressing a desire for a big bed

Remember, where possible, it’s better to wait until closer to 3 years old for better self-control.

Although the typical age range for transitioning to a toddler bed is between 18 months and 3 years, each child is unique and may be ready at different times. Factors such as a new baby arriving or potty training might also affect the timing of the transition. Use your parental instincts and observe your child’s behavior, but don’t rush the process – it’s important to ensure they’re developmentally ready for this big step.

Choosing the Right Toddler Bed

Once you’ve determined that your child is ready for a toddler bed, it’s time to choose the perfect one. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, you’ll want to consider important factors such as safety features, size, and design.

Safety features should be your top priority when selecting a toddler bed. Look for beds that have guards.

Safety Features

Safety is paramount when selecting a toddler bed. Essential safety features include guardrails to prevent falls, a snug-fitting mattress to reduce the risk of entrapment, and no sharp edges or pinch points that could cause injuries.

In addition to selecting a bed with the appropriate safety features, it’s crucial to ensure that the surrounding room is childproofed. This includes anchoring furniture, keeping cords and other hazards out of reach, and using baby gates or door alarms to monitor your child’s movements through the bedroom door.

Size and Design

When it comes to size and design, opt for toddler beds that are low to the ground and smaller than a twin bed, making it easier for your child to climb in and out safely. A smaller bed also helps create a cozy sleep environment and leaves more room for playtime, as opposed to a bunk bed which may be more suitable for older children.

Also, consider your child’s preferences and the overall theme of their child’s room when selecting the design. It’s so important to involve your little one in the process, allowing them to choose bedding and other decorative elements that reflect their personality and interests. Empowering them to be part of the process can really help the transition as they are part of that, rather than the decision being forced upon them, which is more likely to cause problems.

Preparing the Room for Transition

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect toddler bed, it’s time to prepare the toddler’s room for this exciting transition. You’ll want to focus on two main areas: childproofing potential hazards and creating a comfortable environment for your child to sleep in.

Childproofing should be your first priority. Make sure that any sharp edges or corners are covered.


Creating a safe space for your child should be your top priority. Start by anchoring furniture, such as dressers and bookshelves, to the wall with furniture straps or wall anchors to prevent tipping.

Consider installing baby gates. It’s not something we’ve always loved suggesting but many, many families use them regardless of whether they work with us or not. This added layer of security will give you peace of mind as your child adjusts to their newfound freedom and independence. It also creates some physical boundaries to avoid them running out of their bed consistently which can end up being a game.

Creating a Comfortable Environment

A comfortable environment is essential for helping your child feel at ease in their new bed. Choose breathable bedding materials and incorporate familiar items from their child’s crib, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. This will help your child feel more secure and relaxed in their new sleep space.

If you’ve already had that environment with the cot, we don’t propose any other changes – too much change at one time can be too much for a little one.

Involving Your Child in the Process

Involving your child in the transition process is key to creating a positive experience and giving them a sense of control. Here are some ways to involve your child in the transition to a new bed:

  1. Let your little one choose their bedding.
  2. Discuss the upcoming change with them and answer any questions they may have. Do this in the morning time when your little one is more energetic and more open to listening to you.
  3. Practice getting in and out of their new bed together.
  4. By involving your child in the process, you can help them feel more comfortable and excited about the transition. It’s empowering them.

You can also use role play to help your child understand the expectations of staying in their own bed all night, especially when transitioning to a new bed. For example, use their favorite stuffed animals or dolls to demonstrate how they should go to child sleep and stay in bed throughout the night.

You can also use a “reward” chart to recognise the first night of your child staying in their bed. Lots of praise and recognition to reflect the massive achievement. This recognition can also be in the form of a special breakfast – it doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that they feel excited about and know they’re achievement has been recognised.

By actively involving your child in the process, you’ll help them build excitement and confidence for this big transition.

Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine is crucial for helping your child adjust to their new bed and improving sleep quality. Engage in calming activities, such as lullabies, baths, or stories, to signal that it’s time for bed and create a sense of familiarity.

As your child grows accustomed to their new bed, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine will also reinforce positive sleep habits and contribute to a smoother transition overall. Remember to be patient and supportive throughout the process, as it may take some time for your child to fully adjust.

Handling Nighttime Wandering and Settling In

It’s not uncommon for toddlers to test boundaries and wander during the night after transitioning to a toddler bed. If your child gets out of bed, calmly return them to their room, remind them of bedtime rules, and consistently reinforce the expectation that they stay in bed throughout the night.

Be patient and understanding, as it may take some time for your child to settle into their new sleep environment. By handling nighttime wandering calmly and consistently, you’ll help your child develop the skills and confidence needed to stay in bed all night.

The Rapid Return Sleep training method can be a great way to enforce these responsive boundaries.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Some common challenges during the transition to a toddler bed may include early waking or difficulty staying in bed. To help overcome these challenges, consider using a Sleep Training Clock to visually remind your child when it’s appropriate to get up in the morning. This can encourage them to stay in bed longer and develop a consistent sleep schedule. Just make sure it’s not one that uses blue light, which can suppress the sleep hormone.

Also, be patient and reward positive behavior, such as staying in bed all night or going back to sleep without assistance. By addressing common challenges with patience and consistency, you’ll help your child develop healthy sleep habits in their new bed.

When to Consider Reverting Back to the Crib

If your child is having trouble sleeping or throwing tantrums after transitioning to a toddler bed, it may be necessary to revert back to the crib. Keep in mind that it’s normal for children to transition to a toddler bed anytime between 18 months and 3 years, so don’t be discouraged if your child needs more time in their crib.

If they are able to climb out of their cot, you won’t be able to move back to it, so thinking about a stair gate and a sleep training method may be your best and only options.

Before making any changes, assess your child’s readiness and consider any external factors, such as a new sibling or other major life changes, that may be affecting their ability to adapt to the new bed. Ultimately, the most important factor in your child’s life is their comfort and safety.

Tips for a Successful Transition

To ensure a successful transition from crib to toddler bed, remember to:

  • Wait for the right time
  • Involve your child in the process
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  • Be patient and supportive throughout the transition

Every child is unique, and the transition process may be easier for some than others. By following these tips and staying attuned to your child’s needs, you’ll be well on your way to a smooth and successful transition to the world of big kid beds!


In conclusion, transitioning your child from a crib to a toddler bed is an exciting milestone that requires preparation, patience, and support.

Try not to rush it either – our middle son stayed in a cot until after he turned 3. He never climbed out and the cot was big enough for him.

Also, we recommend you don’t transition from a cot to a bed as a way to improve sleep issues. It very rarely does.

By following the tips and insights provided in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate this big kid adventure and help your child embrace their new sleep space with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should I convert crib to toddler bed?

When transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed, it’s best to wait until they are at least 3 years old. If they start to climb out, you will have to do it the. But the longer you can leave it, to allow their impulse control and emotional maturity to develop, the better.

How do I know when my toddler is ready for a toddler bed?

If your toddler is able to climb out of their crib, or if they are outgrowing their cot, these are signs that they are ready for a toddler bed.

Should I leave their bedroom door open so they can come and find us if needed?

Leaving a bedroom door open is a fire hazard. All bedroom doors should be closed to prevent the risk of fire spreading.

So whilst it can be tempting to leave the door open, this is not something we would recommend.

What safety features should I look for in a toddler bed?

Look for safety rails, a snug-fitting mattress and no sharp edges or pinch points to keep your toddler safe while they sleep.

How can I help my child adjust to their new toddler bed?

Help your child adjust to their new toddler bed by creating a comfortable environment, involving them in the process, and establishing a consistent bedtime routine.

Start by making sure the bed is in a safe and comfortable spot. Let your child help you pick out bedding and decorations that they like. This will help them feel more connected to their new bed.


We are UK leading sleep consultants with expertise of working with children up to 6 years old. If you need help to get your child’s sleep back on track, please get in touch.

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