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Making the Transition from Crib to Bed

Making the transition from crib to big kid bed is a huge milestone for your child and can be a daunting transition for many parents. Your child goes from having clear boundaries to having invisible boundaries and they quickly learn how easy it is to get out of bed. How can you make this transition a smooth one and help your child understand the boundaries of their newfound freedom? I’ve answered all your questions here!


I recommend waiting as long as possible to make this transition. Around 3 years old, your child is old enough to understand the imaginary boundaries of a big kid bed. Making this transition too soon often becomes frustrating for parents as their child quickly learns they can now get out of bed.


Now that your child will no longer be within the safe confines of their crib, when making this transition we must make safety a priority. Use this checklist to safety proof your child’s room before the big day.

  • Position the bed at least 3 feet from any walls to prevent entrapment

  • Remove unsafe cords, mount monitors, plug outlets, and secure all furniture

  • Remove any toys or distractions from the room (toys are much more fun that sleep!)

Toddler Bed or Twin Bed

I like to do as little transitioning as possible, so I recommend going straight into a twin bed. This way you don’t have to worry about another transition down the road out of a toddler bed.

As for the mattress, under 12 months we want the mattress to be nice and firm for safety, but for older children you can look for something based more on comfort. This is going to vary from person to person, so my suggestion is if you don’t already have a mattress, test a few out yourself. If you think it feels comfortable, then go with that!

Have a Plan and Prepare Ahead

Please do not do this cold turkey. Always, always have a plan in place before a transition. Think through how you will handle bedtime stalling, getting out of bed, returning to bed, and night wakings. Once you have a plan in place – STICK TO IT. Consistency during transitions is important for your child to learn the boundaries and expectations that come along with being in a big kid bed. Additionally, children feel safe and secure when boundaries are in place because they know what to expect every night.

Making the Transition

Talk about it ahead of time.

A day or two before the transition, talk about it with your child. Show them the bed and get them involved in putting their bed together or picking out new bedding. Make it fun and exciting!

Role Play

A day or two before you make the transition, I want to you to role-play with your child, so they can practice. Show them how to practice getting into bed, pulling the covers up, staying in bed after mom/dad leave, and mom/dad coming to get him in the morning.

Keep their bedtime routine the same.

Switching to a big kid bed is a big change, so we want to keep everything else familiar. Continuing with the same routine will help avoid bedtime stalling because they will know what to expect. The only thing different will be climbing into their new bed!

Use a toddler clock.

Toddler clocks are great for this transition because it helps set clear boundaries. Program the clock for bedtime and wake-up time, so your child has a clear visual for when it is time for sleep and time to wake. Here are two of my favorites: the Hatch Rest and LittleHippo Mella

Sleep is not always perfect as your child grows and changes, but it is possible to minimize sleep disruptions by preparing ahead and having a plan. If you are planning to make this transition soon and want some help with a plan, contact me here. I will give you a plan AND support along the way!


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