Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

A Little More Wisdom

The transition from a crib to a bed is a big milestone, but it can also be a big headache. Tiny escape artists can throw your napping and bedtime routines into chaos. Maintaining your cool will go a long way towards reaching your toddler’s big bed goals.

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

Written by Cathy Hale on November 27th, 2017

Remember when the crib looked massive in relation to your tiny newborn? Those first few nights she slept in it, she had so much room to grow. Now she’s practically bouncing out of it! That means it’s time to transition from a crib to a toddler bed.

While every baby and family is different, most babies make the move to a toddler bed between the age of 18 months and 3 years. How will you know when it’s time? Well, my boys started climbing over the rail. My older son would climb out and then climb back in, which we found amusing. When my younger son was about 2 ½, he climbed out once and never stayed put after that.

It may be easy

The main reason we transitioned my older son to a toddler bed was because we needed the crib for his younger brother.  He was just shy of 3-years-old at the time and his transition was very easy. He wasn’t an infuriating escape artist who hopped out a lot. Unlike my niece…

It may be hard

My poor sister was at her wits end when she transitioned her toddler-aged daughter from a crib to a toddler bed. That little rascal hopped out every single time. My sister tried everything and nothing worked. After three weeks of bedtime theatrics and sleepless nights, she finally stayed in her bed and life was finally back to normal.

Calculated excitement

The transition out of a crib is a milestone for everyone, so make it a big deal, but not a huge deal.  If your toddler can help with the transition by picking out new sheets or a new comforter, that’s a great way to get her involved in the process. On the flip side, don’t get too excited or too nervous, because that could open the door for anxiety and negative behavior. 

Stay cool

The first time she realizes she can hop out of bed, she will. Perhaps 100 times. If you find yourself getting mad and scolding, you may need to rethink your actions. Sometimes the best thing you can do is minimize your reaction. To a toddler brain, your emotions fuel the excitement and that could cause her to keep doing it. Even well behaved toddlers like to test limits.

Instead of getting upset, just calmly walk your toddler back to bed if she escapes. By staying composed, your toddler will eventually get bored with your consistently mundane reaction and stay in bed. It could take weeks, but it will happen.

Routines & rewards

If you have a bedtime routine like reading a book together or singing lullabies, stick with your routine.  If she hops out of bed while you’re reading, tell her you’ll stop reading if she keeps hopping out. As long as she stays put, you’ll do XYZ.  That way she has the opportunity to adjust her behavior and be rewarded for listening.

Think of things you can do to positively reinforce her good behavior when she stays in bed, instead of resorting to punishment. When it comes to behavior modification, motivating a child to behave with a reward system like earning stickers or little toys can work wonders.

Patience, patience & patience

At first you may feel frustrated, but don’t give up. Even if you have to walk her back to bed 20 times one night, that doesn’t mean you’re failing. Stay with it. Keep moving forward in an upward trajectory, even if it’s slower than you’d like.  Remain positive and steadfast. Sooner than you think she’ll look forward to hopping into bed, not hopping out of it.

What’s your advice for moms getting ready to transition a toddler from a crib to a big kid bed? Let us know in the comments section on our Facebook page.