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When to Transition to a Toddler Bed: The Signs Your Child is Ready and How to Do It Safely

Toddler sleeping in Mothers arms

You've successfully navigated the switch from the bassinet to the crib, but when is the right time for your child to take the next step?

When to switch to a toddler bed is a big question all parents must face, and like child-rearing itself, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It's a huge milestone for you and your child, and you want to ensure they're ready - emotionally and physically. Most children make the switch sometime between 18 months and 3 1/2 years, which is a pretty big range!

So how do you make the call? Every child and family is different, so you'll need to use your best judgment and listen to your little one's cues. There's a lot to consider, including making sure they're cozy, safe, and secure when it's finally time for them to hop into their "big kid bed'' and (with any luck) drift off into dreams.

We've compiled our top tips below, so let's get started!

Unlike transitioning between a car seat and a booster, there are no exact guidelines for when to make the transition. But the good news is there are a few key signs your child is ready for a toddler bed that you should be on the lookout for.

Are They Attempting to Climb out of the Crib?

Climbing out of the crib is a skill that takes time and practice to master, and it's a sure sign that the time is right for transitioning to a toddler bed. In the U.S., two-thirds of all crib-related injuries result from jumps or falls from cribs, so if your little one is scaling the railings with ease, it's time to take action.

Are They Almost 3 Feet Tall?

There's no standard height or weight limit for transitioning to a toddler bed. Still, if your child's chest is higher than the crib railing when they stand on the crib mattress (even if they're not in the habit of trying to climb out), there's a good chance they're outgrowing their crib and ready to start sleeping in a bed.

Are They Asking for A "Big Kid Bed?”

There's nothing better than hearing your child use their words to communicate what they need. They're likely emotionally ready for the switch if they ask for a bed like mommy and daddy have.

While the signs above indicate that it might be time to start looking into toddler beds, there are other key factors you'll want to consider before you make the switch.

For example, is a significant change or stressful event happening in your child's life like a new baby sibling on the way, starting daycare, or potty training? If so, it might be best to wait until things have settled down a bit before they start sleeping in a toddler bed.

You'll also want to consider how well your child sleeps. If they're prone to night-waking or have trouble falling asleep, it might be best to wait a little longer before making the switch.

Toddler beds are a safe next step for young children ready to move on from the crib but still too small for a twin bed. Some models feature fun designs to make the transition from crib to bed exciting for your little dreamer. Most importantly, they're low to the ground and include rails to prevent your child from rolling out while they sleep. However, remember that while toddler beds are a great option, they're not essential. Some parents simply opt to place their child's crib mattress on the floor.

Once you've decided it's time to make the move into a toddler bed, there are several things you can do to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Start out With Naps

If your child is resistant to the idea of sleeping all night in a "big kid bed,” start by having them take their daytime naps in the new bed but stick with the crib for a while for overnight sleeping. This helps them get used to the new bed and gives you a chance to see how they do.

Involve Your Child and Make It a Blast!

Help your child get excited about their new bed by allowing them to pick out special new bedding. Even better, involve them in picking out their new bed. Then, when it's time for the transition, let them help you set up their new bed and help make up the bed with their new sheets. Finally, consider picking up some brand new bedtime books to read together in the new bed to make the experience even more special.

Child Proof Their Sleeping Area

You probably already childproofed your little one's room when they were younger. Still, it's a good idea to have a fresh look at your child's room with their safety in mind before they start sleeping in a bed that doesn't confine them. Take extra care to remove any large toys or furniture they could fall from, and check that outlets are covered, and cords from window blinds or lamps are out of reach.

Make Sure They Can't Wander

If your child is in the habit of making a break for it during bedtime or naps, you might consider investing in a baby gate to block off their bedroom door. This will help ensure that your little Houdini stays put and can't wander the house unsupervised while you're busy getting things done or trying to get some rest yourself.

If it's time for your little bundle of joy to make the big switch to a toddler bed, congratulations! You and your child are about to embark on a new and exciting adventure. By keeping an eye out for the signs that they're ready and following the simple tips above, you can make the experience fun, exciting, and stress-free for both of you.

Looking for more helpful parenting tips? Check out the Chicco Baby Talk Blog for a huge variety of in-depth articles on all things baby! From how to choose the right stroller or baby carrier to feeding, sleeping, and soothing tips, we’ve got you covered. Sweet dreams!