Express Sleep Plan

How (and When) To Transition Your Toddler From a Crib to a Bed

Transitioning Your Toddler To A Big Kid Bed

Here’s a common toddler-related question we hear often:

“When should I transition my toddler from his crib to a ‘big kid’ bed? And how exactly am I supposed to do it?!”

Is that a question that’s been on your mind lately? If so, never fear — it’s the question we’re answering in today’s article!

When To Transition Your Toddler From Crib to Bed

First, let’s tackle the “when” of making the crib-to-bed transition. There’s no easy answer to this one — ages for making this transition vary from family to family. However, it’s interesting to note that the average age for making the switch from crib to bed is between 3 and 4 years.

Typically, we here at The Baby Sleep Site® recommend that you don’t rush into making this transition. Why? Because once you remove those crib bars, you remove your little one’s bedtime boundaries. And that can cause problems. Your little one may take advantage of her newfound freedom, and play the “jack-in-the-box” game with you, popping out of bed every time you turn your back. That can be exhausting.

So don’t rush into making this switch; if your little one is doing fine in her crib, then leave her there. If you can wait to make the transition until your toddler is older than 2, then it’ll probably be easier on everyone. (Emphasis on the probably — we’re not making any promises!)

However, if the crib just isn’t working anymore, it may be time to make the switch. For instance, if your toddler is routinely climbing out of her crib, and you feel that her monkey-like antics are starting to become dangerous, consider switching her to a big bed (particularly if she’s past 2 years old).

Or maybe your toddler is just plain too big for his crib. If that’s the case, then it may be time to switch to a big kid bed (again, particularly if he’s past 2 years old.)

Of course, your desire to make the transition may have more to do with you — if you’re expecting a new baby, you may need to transition your toddler out of the crib so that you have it free for the new baby. Again, if your toddler is past 2 years old, then make the switch; if not, then consider getting 2 cribs. We did that in my house for a bit — my oldest son was 19 months old when my second son was born. We used 2 cribs for 6 or 7 months, until my oldest was ready for a bed.

Nicole’s Note:
“The biggest issue here is that even IF your toddler understands he is supposed to stay in bed, he may lack the impulse control to actually do it. We all know adults who lack impulse control, too, but that’s for another day. :) Both our boys transitioned around two years old, but it certainly helped to have solidified our sleep habits, first. I do talk to some families where the loss of boundaries can majorly affect a toddler’s feeling of security, so make sure she’s ready before making the switch.”

What Kind of Bed Should You Transition Your Toddler To?

If your toddler is small, consider transitioning him to a toddler bed. This is a smaller-sized bed that uses a crib mattress instead of a twin-sized mattress. A toddler can feel cozier in a toddler bed than she would in a twin bed, and that may make the transition easier for some toddlers.

Of course, if your toddler is outgrowing the crib, then switching to a toddler bed won’t work (since it’s essentially the same size as the crib.) In this case, you’ll want to transition your toddler to a twin-sized (or larger) bed.

Nicole’s Note:
“Both our boys transitioned to toddler beds, which may or may not have helped, but that only lasted about 6 months, so if money is tight or you think your toddler will transition well, skip the toddler bed. We went from toddler bed to full size bed, so we wouldn’t need to buy yet another bed once they got bigger (and frankly, it’s more comfortable for us to cuddle at bedtime, too!).”

How To Transition Your Toddler From Crib to Bed

There’s no script to follow when you’re helping your toddler switch from a crib to a bed. There are, however, some tips to keep in mind:

  • Before you do anything else, safety-proof! Once you remove those crib bars, your toddler is going to have unhindered access to his room. So take some time to carefully toddler-proof that room! If you’re transitioning to a big bed, you’ll also want to invest in some safety bed rails, to prevent any falls.
  • Talk to your toddler about the switch ahead of time. Few toddlers will react well to entering their room and suddenly seeing their old bed replaced with a new one. Remember — toddlers like routine and predictability! So let your toddler know what’s coming. Talk about it, and maybe read a book about it (like this one) together.
  • Make the big bed welcoming. Pile on your toddler’s favorite toys or stuffed animals. Layer on any favorite blankets or bedding. Consider taking your toddler shopping for new “big kid” sheets, and let her pick them out.
  • Consider leaving the crib in the room for a bit. This may or may not work. For some kids, having the crib there proves to be a huge distraction, and only makes the switch harder. For others, though, it makes the switch easier. Toddlers love choices, after all, so if (for a few weeks) you give your toddler the choice to sleep in the crib or the big bed, it can help your toddler feel more in control of the transition.
  • Prepare yourself for the “jack-in-the-box.” Your toddler WILL try to get out of his new bed. And that’s understandable — the sudden freedom is bound to go right to his head! So be prepared for it. When your toddler (inevitably) wanders out of bed, quickly put him right back into it. It’s a good idea to make it an emotionless interaction — too much positive or negative reaction on your part will likely serve to make the jack-in-the-box behavior worse. But if your toddler can’t get a rise out of you, he’s likely to quit the behavior faster.
  • Don’t expect the transition to happen overnight. It’ll probably be 2-3 weeks before this transition is done, and the new bed feels normal for your toddler. And yes, there will be a handful of rough nights in there. Stick with it, though — be firm, and be consistent. And before you know it, your little one’s new bed will feel just like home.

Want more guidance on how to make the transition from crib to bed an easy one for your toddler? Or maybe you just want to get your wide-awake toddler sleeping and napping better? Join The Baby Sleep Site®‘s Member’s Area and get unlimited access to our toddler e-book, The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. It includes a wealth of tips on how to tackle your toddler’s sleep issues. Plus, enjoy several toddler-specific tele-seminars, as well as two toddler case studies!

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When did you transition your toddler from the crib to a bed? How did you handle it? Share your insights!

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  1. Valerie A. says

    My daughter is 22 months and we recently converted the crib into a toddler bed and boy the first 3 weeks were rough. She had serious sleep regression along with jumping out of bed all hours of the night. We used the Baby Sleep Site’s advice about not making it an event when she got up and I’m able to lay her down awake now and she stays in bed and goes to sleep. We’re still addressing the night wakings but they’ve dwindled down to about one a night, and she goes back to sleep quickly. I’m looking forward to her sleeping through the night again!

  2. Oana says

    I’d be interested in hearing from other parents who have had their baby/toddler sleeping on a floor bed, Montessori style. How do you make sleep training work when there is no crib to contain the baby, and they have access to their toys and the rest of the room?

  3. says

    We’re almost there with our 22 month old. But, with my 8 year old, I waited until she was climbing out and showing up in my room in the middle of the night (frightening). That’s when I knew we had to make a change. I started with a toddler bed (because I had access to one) and then a twin bed with a rail (one side against the wall). She did pretty well, but Jack-in-the-Box is a great way to describe her behavior for a while!

  4. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Valeria A. — glad to hear our advice has proven useful for you! Hope your little girl is sleeping through the night very soon. Thanks for commenting! :)

    @ Oana — I can’t speak personally to using a Montessori bed, but I know we’ve worked with parents who’ve used them. Hopefully a few of them will respond to your comment!

    @ Lydia — yep! “Jack-in-the-Box” is an apt expression in this case, isn’t it? I remember that well with both my boys; my youngest is almost 2 now, and I know we’ll be making that switch soon. Probably over the summer. And I’ll tell you, I’m not looking forward to the jack-in-the-box thing. At all. 😉

  5. Katie Tobey says

    I transferred my son just before he turned one. He was lagging in his gross motor skills. He would go from lying to sitting on his own and tried to roll over. He was also a very big baby. It just got to where I (short as I am) couldn’t lay him in the crib or get him back out without hurting myself. As he didn’t crawl until 14 months we had several months were he stayed right on the twin mattress on the floor. Even after he could walk, he was used to sleeping on his bed. Wasnt much if a transition! He’s 22 months now. If we get bedtime right, it’s easy. If we don’t… We just shut the door and do our checks until he’s ready to be put back down. On the rare instance he’s just not tired, he plays quietly and then eventually falls asleep. The only time not using crib has been hard is naps at other people’s houses, but I have a feeling that would be hard regardless. Honestly, I’d be tempted to never use a crib with the next child.

  6. Mary says

    This helped because I was wondering if I should make the switch. My little guy is 15 months old and his sleep isn’t the best. We had to get rid of the pack n play at my Mom’s house so they purchased a toddler bed. He naps in there and sleeps in there if we are out at their house during the day or for evening gatherings. He does well for naps, but maybe keeping his crib for night time will be best for now. :)

  7. Liv says

    My 19 month old son loves his cot. He sleeps in a Grobag and has never ever attempted to climb out.
    But he’s a big boy for his age, he’s the same height as some 2.5 year olds.
    Right now he’s ok in his cot but I have a feeling he will grow out of it before either of us are ready to move to a bed!
    I don’t know whether to go and buy a cot bed..,,

  8. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Katie Tobey — what a unique experience! Transferring to a bed before age one is rare, I think. Still, glad to hear that it worked so well for your family! Thank for sharing a little bit bout your experience. :)

    @ Mary — the fact that he does well in a toddler bed at your mom’s house is a huge plus. That means when you introduce one in your own home, it won’t be so new and foreign to him. But he’s still pretty little to make the switch permanently, so don’t feel rushed to do it or anything. If he’s still fine in his crib, and you’re happy with him in the crib, then you can probably wait to make the transition, if that’s what you want.

    @ Liv — from what I can tell, a grobag is like a sleep sack, right? That’s probably a big help in preventing your little guy from trying to climb out of his crib. If you do feel that he’s starting to outgrow his crib, though, you could start thinking about moving him into a bigger bed. 19 months is still fairly young to make the switch, though, so unless the crib seems to be interfering with his sleep, or something like that, then it’s probably fine if you stick with the crib for a few more months.

  9. Monica says

    A week after my first son turned 2 he climbed out of crib that day we took the front of his convertible crib and he has been sleeping great in it for a year and a half. Now I want to get him into a twin bed but everytime we bring it up to him he says he loves his bed and doesn’t want a bigger one. My friend told me to just buy the twin mattress and put it in his room and get him use to the idea so we are thinking of doing that. Any other suggestions?

  10. Meg says

    I really don’t want to rush my little guy (28mo) out of his crib where he sleeps soooo well – but I’m torn. We’re expecting our 2nd this summer; he’ll be 31mo by then. We won’t put her in a crib until 2-3mo but everything I’ve heard recommends making any transitions (to preschools, different beds, changing rooms, etc) before the new baby actually arrives since the baby itself is such a HUGE change – for everyone. We also want to move my son out of the nursery and into the larger room (we have the two upstairs) so that plus the bed change could happen at the same time. Oy! We’re frozen in indecision, here. Having him sleep his usual awesome schedule would be so welcome those first months of having a new baby home…

  11. says

    My son is nearing 2, and I KNOW he’s capable of climbing out, but so far he’s shown no inclination to do so. It makes me a bit nervous. I’m worried he’ll just decide to start with no warning.

    Tangent: is anyone here familiar with the concept of the Montessori bed? I always wonder how that works with bedtime boundaries…

  12. Marcia says

    I just want to offer encouragement to those transitioning from cribs. We transitioned my toddler when she was just over 2 years old because she had a sibling coming and we wanted her used to sleeping in her “big girl ” bed well before the baby came. She had never tried to escape her crib and slept well in it but had many other sleeping difficulties and does not handle transitions well, so I was worried and expecting the worst. We had her “help” us put together the bed, which she loved, and she was SO excited to have the bed in her room…but the first nap in it was disastrous. She screamed and wanted in her crib. There was no sleeping that nap. After several naps this way (she was still sleeping in her crib at night), we decided that the crib had to go. Once the crib was out of her room, amazingly, she was fine. No more crying or staying awake all nap time. With the crib gone, she seemed able to accept that she was supposed to sleep in the new bed and did. I know it will not be this easy for everyone, but I wish it for every parent. My daughter is strong-willed and I expected a BIG fight but she surprised me. So you never know. Sometimes the hardest part is getting past your own expectations.

  13. Angela says

    At 18 months my son became an Olympic crib jumper, so despite my plans to keep him in his crib as long as humanly possible we converted it to his toddler bed. I was completely stressed because he was so young, but he was thrilled and jumped right in, loving that he could get in and out himself. I was worried he would be getting in and out all night, but I think the fact that it still looked like his crib just with one side missing, but he stayed in it and if he woke in the night he just called for us exactly like when he was in his crib. Not everyone will be as easy I know, but kids often surprise us with what they can handle!

  14. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Monica — the idea of buying a twin-sized mattress (or mattress and bed frame) and putting that up in his room could definitely work. That way, he can kind of test it out; he can spend some time in the new bed, but he’ll still have his old, familiar toddler bed to go back to. It certainly couldn’t hurt to at least try, especially since you’ll have to buy a bigger bed at some point. Might as well do it now and start getting your son used to it. :)

    @ Meg — Here are my insights, for what they’re worth: don’t put undue pressure on yourself. If making the transition is something you really, really want to do before the new baby comes, then you certainly could — your son is old enough. But if you know, deep down, that you don’t want to tackle that until after the baby comes, and until things have returned to some semblance of normal, then don’t. There’s no harm in leaving a toddler in his crib for longer than average. If he’s happy there, and if you’d rather wait to make the change, that’s okay.

    I faced this same kind of dilemma before my third child was born, only I was trying to figure out potty training. I kept thinking that I should just get on the ball and potty train my middle son (he was about 2.5 at the time) before the baby came. Eventually, though, I felt like I was stressing myself out, so I waited to potty train until a few months after my my daughter was born. It ended up working out fine.

    Of course, my experience is bound to be different than yours, but there you go. Do with that what you will 😉

  15. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Meagan — climbing out of the crib is a tricky thing. Some kids do it the SECOND they’re able to; other kids are happy to stay in their cribs until they’re 3. So just because your son can do it doesn’t mean he ever will. Does that make sense? It’s good to be aware of the fact that he can, and to watch for signs that he’s trying (catching up with a leg over the top rail, etc.), but honestly, he may never attempt it.

    I don’t have any experience with Montessori beds personally. Based on what I’ve heard from our sleep consultants (who’ve worked with families that use them), they work well for some families but not for others.

    Hopefully a mom with some Montessori bed experience can chime in here…

    Thanks for commenting, Meagan! :)

  16. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Marcia — “Sometimes the hardest part is getting past your own expectation.” YES. I love, love, love this observation. I’ve found this to be true as well. I have a tendency to sell my kids short (i.e. “he won’t be able to do that”), but often, they surprise me. And I’ve learned that if I communicate to my kids “You can do this, you’re capable of doing this”, they often rise to the occasion. Not always, of course, but often!

    Thanks, too, for sharing your experience with the crib-and-bed-in-the-room strategy. Sounds like it was a major bust for you! Funny — that approach works wonders for some families, and it proves utterly disastrous for others. No way to know until you try, I suppose. 😉

    Thanks for commenting, Marcia!

  17. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Angela — sounds like the “transition” was barely a transition at all for your little guy! How nice, when we parents catch a break like that. :) It’s the little things.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Angela!

  18. jennifer says

    my son is 22 months today, we converted his crib when he was almost 21 months, as i was getting him from his nap one day he threw his leg up like he was going to climb, i decided i would convert it and try it, the first 2 nights he got right up a couple of times, but went to sleep rather easily, and woke a few ties but, he was also teething at the time, fro the 3rd night on he goes down just as easily as when it was a crib, but i agree that it is still his crib,just converted may have helped, because he is very used to his own bed, and it is still his bed, he even watched and “helped” me take the front rail off,

  19. Emily DeJeu says

    @ jennifer — thanks for sharing these tips about what worked for you! Very helpful :)

  20. says

    It makes me nervous, but that was my thought. He seems pretty content. The reason I’m wondering about the Montessori bed is that we ARE starting to think about a second, and if he’s still happy in a crib at three, I dont want to push him out at 2 1/2 to make room for a baby. I also wondered if having a baby in an “open” bed from the beginning would change the equation on power struggles and boundaries.

  21. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Meagan — We’ve worked with some families who use Montessori beds, and I think that in general, we’ve found that they work for some families and not for others. Could be a trial-and-error thing on your part; you could start with that and see what happens. We’re planning to do an article on Montessori beds, although it’s scheduled for the fall. Now, given the comments we’ve had on this article, I’m wondering if maybe I should bump that up and write it sooner!

    Of course, another option would be to buy (or borrow) a second crib. That worked well for us; my boys are only 19 months apart, so we had to have 2 cribs in the house for awhile.

    Keep us posted on what you end up doing, Meagan! I know a lot of moms ask themselves the same questions that you’re asking yourself; so let us know what you end up deciding. :) And thanks for commenting!

  22. says

    Thanks! We’re not quite ready yet, so we still have plenty of time to think about it.

  23. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Meagan — True. But still, good for you for thinking ahead! I’m a planner, too, so I totally understand that impulse. 😉

  24. says

    HELP!!!! I don’t know what to do, my daughter is 13 months old and sleeps mostly through the night(wakes up to nurse 2x) and sleeps in our bed right now. I would like to transition her to her own bed, but don’t know if I should put her in a crib or “big girl” bed? Having mixed feelings about both, but I can’t keep her in my bed forever, lol. Any advice moms?

  25. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Olivia — I’d say to try transitioning her to a crib first. 13 months is still pretty young to be in a big kid bed; we usually recommend holding off on transitioning from crib to bed until age 2, if possible.

    Hope that helps! Thanks for commenting. :)

  26. Justina says

    My 12 month old is getting ready to transit. I want to give him the freedom to do it himself. Right now he has to throw a tantrum before I realize what he’s wanting. & if I’m feeding our daughter, he has to wait. If he has to wait then he starts throwing things. I’ve just been putting a small pallet in the floor for naps, and he goes down himself most of the time. I think giving him the same bedtime freedom will work out just fine.

  27. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Justina — thanks for weighing in and sharing this info! very helpful. I’d say as long as you carefully, carefully toddler-proof whatever room he’ll be sleeping in, it can work out just fine. And that’s neat, your idea of wanting to give him more freedom as a way to curb his tantrum-throwing!

    Thanks for commenting, Justina. :)

  28. Helene says

    I’m transitioning my tenth child from a crib to a toddler bed now. My advice is to wait for this move until your child is ready to drop the afternoon nap. When they are good and tired and primed for sleep at night, they tend to stay in the bed and sleep deeper. Dropping daytime naps on their own is a good sign they are ready for this big bedtime change!

  29. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Helene — your TENTH child?! Wow!! Thank you so, so much for chiming in with this excellent insight; clearly, you have a wealth of experience that the rest of us don’t. :) I think you’re advice is solid, and obviously, it’s been developed through lots and LOTS of experience!

    Thanks again for commenting, Helene!

  30. Amruta says

    My son is 19 months old and we are still co-sleeping… and now we are struggling to do the transition…still wakes up couple of times to nurse…will he ever sleep in his own bed/crib…????? Help…!!!

  31. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Amruta — I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this transition! You must be exhausted and overwhelmed at this point, and that’s understandable.

    First, let me say that at 19 months old, your son doesn’t need to nurse during the night (and definitely not several times per night.) So it might be encouraging to you to know that this isn’t something you need to keep doing. He’s probably just waking out of habit at this point, because it’s something he’s always done.

    The next step is to help him learn how to fall asleep on his own and stay asleep in his own bed. We have a free guide that can help you get started with that; you can access it here:

    Start with that, and if you still need help in getting your son to sleep well, you can contact us again to learn more about our other options.

    Hope this proves helpful for you, Amruta! And hang in there; you can do it! :)

  32. Darcy H says

    Our daughter decided at 18 months that she didn’t want to be in her crib anymore. She made this clear by screaming/crying whenever we tried to leave the room at night. Since we have never been of the “Cry-it-out” mindset, this was upsetting for all of us. We started sleeping on a single bed with her until she fell asleep and then setting up things so that she couldn’t fall out during the night. We also let her have her naps on the bed. But I was worried about her trying to climb out when she woke up. I had seen some Montessori info about sleeping on the floor and I was intrigued. The first time we put a single mattress on the floor, our daughter was elated! She loved being on her bed! The first week or so I stayed with her until she fell asleep but soon she was able to go to sleep by herself and didn’t once climb out of bed. In the morning she would wait until I came to get her but after about a month she started to come out in the morning after she had slept long enough. In the last four months she’s only climbed out of bed at night 3 times, usually because she was sick or upset about something. After putting her back and explaining that she wasn’t allowed to get out, she would stay put.
    Some things we found that helped: Making the bed cozy with pillows, blankets and one or two special stuffed animals. Waiting until she fell asleep until leaving the room for the first little while (we moved to a new home during this time and it took a month before she was ready to fall asleep alone in her new room). Not having toys in her room (all her toys are part of our living space). Making it fun to have your bed on the floor!

  33. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Darcy H — excellent suggestions! Thanks for sharing these, Darcy; I know a lot of the parents who read our blog appreciate really hands-on, practical tips like these. :)

  34. Emily says

    I came looking for this info – glad it is such a recent article! Our son is 2.5 years old, and has been sleeping in his “big boy bed” since about December. We had a second baby in November and thought it would be better to switch him to the big bed sooner than later so he wouldn’t feel like he was getting booted from the crib when she is ready for it. We went right to a twin bed, with a bed rail. He seems to like it, and sleeps well in it – once he is asleep. At first he wanted one of us to lie with him in the bed until he fell asleep (which we did). Then he did well with the tuck-in routine (stories, songs) and “check-ins” every 5-10 minutes, lots of praise if he stayed in his bed. But the past few nights he has been popping out of bed almost before we close the door behind us and following us out. We are trying to just put him back in bed with little comment or discussion, but even 1/2 hour of this makes me want to tear my hair out. My husband has been giving in and lying down with him after the millionth (or so it seems) time putting him back — I’m sure not a good idea but at that point we’re desperate. Any other suggestions that might help? I would be OK with him playing with his stuffed animals in bed or whatever if he can’t fall asleep for a while, but so far he can’t manage that.

  35. says

    @Emily I can’t remember where I saw this idea (parent hacks maybe?) but I think it could work for you? You take some duct tape, preferably in a color or pattern of your son’s choosing (but you could probably use a less perminant tape if you were worried about long term effects) and put tape on the floor marking with the door all the way open, 3/4 open, 1/2 open and 1/4 open. You explain to your son that when he goes to bed the door is open, but every time he gets out of bed, it moves to the next mark. So the 4th time he gets out of bed, the door closes for the night. Supposedly, the incentive of having the door open is enough to keep some kids in bed once they get the concept, and the tape gives a tangible illustration so they can understand what’s happening. It’s not a punishment, it’s just the rule of what happens to the door every night.

    My son is still in a crib so we’ve never tried it (and anyway we have to keep the door closed, so it wouldn’t work) but if you have an open door at bedtime, it might be worth a try?

  36. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Emily — rest assured that this is a totally normal problem. Totally, totally normal. However, I’m betting that the fact that it’s normal doesn’t make you feel any better about dealing with it!

    It sounds to me like you’re doing the right thing here, by not engaging with your son when he gets up, and just steering him right back to bed. You could implement some consequences, like @Meagan mentions with the door idea. It would be best if the consequences were immediate and connected with bedtime, so the door idea works. You could also try taking a stuffed animal (or something else in his bed — blanket, book, etc.) away each time he gets up. You don’t have to implement consequences, of course, but that’s something to at least consider.

    Let us know what ends up working, Emily! And thanks for commenting.

    @ Meagan — thanks for weighing in, and for helping a fellow mom! One of my favorite things to see in the comments section of each article — parents helping other parents :)

  37. Angie says

    So, my son turns 18 months in about 2 weeks. Yesterday he was down for his nap and started crying. He was only down for about an hour and he usually naps for about 3. So, this being said, I usually let him cry a little bit and he usually soothes himself back to sleep. Except this time there was a huge THUD. I sprinted upstairs (and for a 9 week pregnant lady, it probably was more like a fast jog). There he was to greet me at his door bawling his face off. Now both my husband and I are freaking out if it will happen again and what we should do. My husband is worried he’ll do it again and fall in his neck and severely injure himself. So, for tonight we put him back in the crib and surrounded it with pillows and bean bags. I’m just not sure he’s ready to transition ( or maybe it’s just me). He’s getting into everything these days and am not sure he will have the control to stay in his bed. That being said, I also don’t want to risk him trying to kamikaze out the crib and risk seriously injuring himself. What does ” regularly” getting out of bed mean? Do I just wait until he falls out of bed again to call it “regular”? We are just so worried next time he’ll seriously injure himself. Any advice/ guidance is appreciated!!

  38. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Angie — oh, this is so tough! To be honest, this is just a tricky situation all around. 18 months is pretty young to be in a big kid bed, for just the reason you mention — it’s tough for an 18 month old to practice the self-control necessary to stay in bed! However, I totally get your fears about him falling out of bed and REALLY getting hurt next time.

    As for what to do – I’d recommend talking to your healthcare provider, and getting tips from him/her. I’ve known parents who’ve gone ahead with the transition, just for peace of mind – the thought there is that if the child is going to be getting in and out of bed anyway, you may as well embrace it, and make it safer, instead of trying to fight it. I’ve also known parents who’ve stuck with the crib, and tried to “wait it out” so to speak. Some kids will climb in and out of the crib a few times, but once the novelty wears off, or once they have a big (and scary) fall, they pretty much stop. That’s a temperament thing, though – depends SO much on personality, as to whether or not your son would do that.

    Either way – whether you go to a bed, or whether you stick with the crib — you will want to carefully toddler-proof his room. I would even plan on bolting big furniture to the wall, or just getting rid of any tall, heavy pieces of furniture altogether.

    Hope this helps, Angie! Thanks for reaching out to ask your questions – we’re always here to offer tips! :)

  39. Monica says

    We converted my son’s crib to toddler bed the first time he climbed out for the same fears. The best advise I can give you there is don’t keep but a very few toys in his room and make sure it is totally baby proofed. Books are good. My son would bring several books in bed with him and fall asleep in bed I would go in later and take them off his face and bed so they would be out of his way. Also a baby gate at the door way is a great way to keep them in their room and leaving the door open so they don’t feel too locked in and you can easily peek at them when you need to, then we would threaten to close it if he kept getting up he would get 1 warning then we would close half way with a shoe or book keeping it there. Then all the way. Yes there was some screaming the first couple times we did that and then he go it. Another option that my friend did when her son (very big for his age) climbed out of bed before 2 is they dropped the crib bottom to the floor that gave another foot and he wasn’t able to climb out again :) Hope this helps!

  40. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Monica — awesome tips! Thanks so much for offering them :)

  41. Jessica says

    My daughter is 15 months and climed out if her crib last night. She’s tall for her age so had no problem getting out. When I tried to put her back in she’d cry and go to climb out again. I decided to avoid many falls (she’s fearless and doesn’t react to pain much) and bought her a twin mattress that I put on floor with guard rails. I put it exactly where her crib was. She cried when I tried to put her in it and leave room for the night so I laid next to the bed on the floor and she was asleep within ten minutes. I’m nervous for how tonight will go. Normally she sleeps through the night but past week waking at 4 am. I’m very nervous with how tonight and the following will pan out. I know she’s young but anyone else have to do it this early? She does take naps on a couch at the sitters so I am hoping that helps.

  42. Heather says

    My son is 3.5 years old, still sleeps in a crib. He hasn’t tried to climb out. Should I keep him in the crib or transition? We are also still working on potty training and he wears pull ups to bed. I feel that we can’t really potty train until he is in a big bed so that he can get out at night and go potty if needed. I feel like my kid is so behind on this!

  43. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Heather – my thoughts exactly! I always transitioned my kids to big beds right before, or in the early stages of, potty training, for just the reason that you mention. The good news for you is that 3.5 years is a great age to make the transition! Your son should be old enough to handle sleeping in a bed without too much issue. Just be sure to toddler-proof his room first :)

    And don’t worry about being behind – you’re not! We’ve worked with families who’ve done the transition closer to 4 years of age, for a variety of reasons, so you’re okay :) Plus, I think it’s normal to feel like you’re “behind” with the first; I’ve always felt that way with my oldest, too.

    Best of luck to you, Heather!

  44. Megan says

    We transitioned my son (now 5) to a big bed at 14mo. He was getting his leg up on the rail so we wanted to switch before he hurt himself. It was so easy with him. He never got out of his bed until we came to get him. My daughter is so different though. She is almost 19mo and she almost climbed out a few times, but I caught her in the act. I want to switch her because I know there is going to be a time that she climbs out before I catch her, but she is not going to be an easy one. She already hates sleeping. She is a very light sleeper, so we have to close the door the second we lay her down and we were forced to do the cry it out method with her because any movement woke her up no matter how long she had been asleep. She will sleep through the night after about 3 minutes of crying (although there are some nights with no crying). She also gets into EVERYTHING during the day so i know she would love being able to get out of bed easily. My biggest concern though is that my son and daughter have to share a room and my son has a loft bed. I’m afraid she would try to climb up to see her brother. If she fell from that, it would be worse than falling from her crib. I just don’t know what to do. I have a feeling she wouldn’t nap anymore too, she already fights naps no matter how tired she is. Her crib converts to a toddler bed and I’m thinking maybe she would like the big girl bed and maybe there would be no issue, but I feel like it’s just a loose loose situation.

  45. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Megan – I was all set with some advice until I read the part about your son and daughter having to share a room. Yes, that is tough indeed….and I think your concerns about the loft bed make sense. One option would be to carefully toddler-proof the whole room, switch your daughter to a toddler bed, and then get yourself a video monitor to watch and see what happens. This is one case in which a video monitor would be hugely helpful, as you’d be able to see how she’s reacting to the new toddler bed. As for naps…you’ll likely have some hiccups at first, but once the transition is done, and the bed isn’t new anymore, I’d be she’ll return to sleeping like she does now.

    For help with this, and for some of the other sleep issues you mention, I’d suggest you download our free toddler guide:

    Hope this helps, Megan! Good luck to you as you work on this transition!

  46. Ashley Wright says

    I transitioned my son to a “floor bed” (a mattress on the floor) when he was a year old. I was really nervous about it, but was pregnant again and wanted a big gap between moving my son out of his crib, and his little sister into it. So I took the plunge, on a weekend when we had little going on so could take extra naps and such, and he did perfectly! Never missed a beat. Now, at 19 months, he LOVES his mattress/bed, loves playing on it, and happily sleeps on it without any problems. We do close his bedroom door, so if he gets up and plays before falling asleep, it’s okay.

  47. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Ashley Wright – Yay for the floor bed! I did the same with all three of my children – so much easier, isn’t it? I never worried about them falling out, and they were able to get up and go to bathroom as they needed to, which made our potty training easier, too.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Ashley – much appreciated! :)