Sleeping Toddler – 7 Tips to Smooth the Transition from Crib to Bed

Sleeping Toddler – 7 Tips to Smooth the Transition from Crib to Bed

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baby in crib
Baby in a crib

When your toddler is ready to transition to a normal bed, they will let you know. The message will be clear, maybe not “I want out!” clear, but they will let you know. Your child might verbalize displeasure, or more likely, climb out of the crib. A sleeping toddler can be quite tricky to contain when they don’t want to be.

So, what to do?

First, resist the temptation to move them too early. Most experts recommend doings so around age 3. Unless your child is climbing out their crib it’s better to keep them in the crib, which allows them to feel safe. But, if they are climbing out of the crib often then it will be safer for you to move them to the bed. This way, your child can feel comfortable playing during the day while still being safe at night.

Moreover, until age 3, toddlers are very impulsive. Your child will not be able to follow directions or rules which will make sleeping in a bed a real challenge. There are steps you can take to increase the safety if you need to. But, the best bet would be to maintain the use of the crib longer if there is any concern. If you transition to a bed before age 3, there may be a sleeping toddler in your bed overnight.

But when the time comes you need to help your child make the transition to sleeping in a bed. For that, you need to follow certain steps. These are:

Create a safe environment or your sleeping toddler:

Safety is an important aspect to make the transition to a bed smoother. Safety is important for both your peace of mind and your child’s comfort. If your toddler does not feel safe in the new environment, they will not want to stay in the bed. To make the room safer there are several things you can do to ensure your sleeping toddler stays in their bed.

baby sleeping in a crib
Baby sleeping in a crib

The first step is to safety proof your child’s room. Additionally, you need to secure any adjacent rooms. This includes securing windows, tops of stairs, and any tripping hazards. Even better, you can install a safety gate at your child’s door. You can even install a small night-light in their room. This way if they wake overnight it will help orient them and keep them in their room.

Pick the mattress:

Go to the mattress store and let your child help you choose the mattress and bed. This is a big decision for them as much as it is for you. If they feel involved with the decision they will be happier to stay in bed all night. With safety in mind, all you need is a twin-size mattress and bed. You will also need safety rails for the side so your sleeping toddler stays in the bed. You should adjust the height of the new bed so it sit low on the floor for some time until your child gets used to it. A bed lower to the ground also allows you toddler to get in and out of bed with ease. Finally, let your child choose some fun new sheets and pillowcases to setup their bed. Once this is all home you are ready to start the transition.

Disassemble the crib (together):

Sleeping toddler with teddy
Toddler sleeping with a teddy bear

Once the new bed comes home and is setup it is time to remove the crib. The best way to do this will be to get your child to help with the disassembly. As mentioned above this is a big decision for your child. By involving them, you make it a more special situation for them. It allows them to feel like they are a part of the transition from crib to bed. They will then be a happy sleeping toddler in their new bed and will able to say bye to the crib.

Set up the bed for your sleeping toddler:

Sleeping toddler in bed
Toddler sleeping in a bed

The best place to setup up the bed is in the corner of the room. This way they will have a wall on two sides to increase the safety. With the side rail on the side away from the wall there is less chance that your sleeping toddler with roll out of bed. Your child will then feel safe this way, as he did in his crib.

Explain the rules of bedtime for a sleeping toddler:

Children need and thrive by having rules in place to help guide them through their lives. If your child is able to understand instructions it is important to explain the rules of bedtime. Tell them that they are a big kid now and need to understand when we go to sleep, we only wake up when the sun is nice and bright.

Sleeping toddler and baby by a window
Toddler and baby sleeping by the window

Do your bedtime routine to:

As well as rules children rely on routine to help them understand how the world works. You will already have a routine from when they slept in the crib. It is going to be important to keep this routine. On the first few nights of sleeping in the new bed you will need some extra time. It will be important to spend some time laying and reading with them in bed for longer than usual. By doing this you make them more comfortable and safe in their new bed. If your child seems excited about the new bed from the very start, you’re. The transition will be easier.


The chance to sleep in a big kid bed is a big deal for your child. It signals to them that they are growing well and that you trust them to make a big decision. They may be scared about the transition while also being scared. By following the steps outlined in this article you can smooth the transition. Thus, your sleeping toddler will be happy moving into the big bed.

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