Is my toddler ready to transition into a toddler bed?

The thought of moving your toddler into their own “big girl/big boy bed” either delights or terrifies most parents! Knowing when to transition to a toddler bed can be one of the hardest decisions you can make when it comes to your own and your child’s sleep sanity.

That cosy, safe (and routine-based) little cot or crib-bed you have used since birth (or since you moved baby out of their Moses basket) has memories, sentimental value and above all, a feeling of emotional comfort attached to it.

Unfortunately though, as we all know, babies grow into toddlers and toddlers grow into bigger toddlers.

Before you know it, you bigger toddler is trying to scramble over the bars Rambo-style, jump (head-first) over the bars and onto your bed, the pillow, the FLOOR! Maybe they have just outgrown their crib – or you might even have a new baby on the way. 

Either way, there always comes the inevitable time when you begin to think…

“When should my toddler move into a toddler bed?”

This article provides you with all the important and necessary things you should think about before making the transition into a toddler bed.

The right age to transition into a toddler bed

Although there are many suggestions on the best age for little people to transition into a toddler bed, it is widely regarded as being between the ages of 2 and 3 1/2 years old. Although many parents begin the move between the ages of 2 and 3, it is best to hold off until your child is at least aged 3.

This allows for them to be more developmentally ready and more mentally aware of the changes that are coming.

Many parents who attempt the move before age 3 risk the toddler becoming rebellious and turning against their big bed, as they do not yet quite understand why they are being “kicked out” of their baby crib.

Of course, some parents have no choice but to move their child before the age of 3 because their child has already outgrown their baby crib. If this is the same in your case, don’t panic – there are plenty of things you can do to help make the transition from crib to toddler bed smoother.

The decision surrounding what age is best to move toddlers into a toddler bed is ultimately down to the parents and how well you know your child.


Established bedtime and sleep routine 

If your toddler does not have a regular bedtime routine or they have problems with getting to sleep or staying asleep, now is probably not the best time to move them into a toddler bed.

The move into a big-boy / big-girl bed comes with it’s own difficulties – introducing these at the same time as your toddler having their current bedtime problems will just create a storm of trouble for you both at night time.

Practice getting your toddler into a regular bedtime routine that works for you! There is a TON of advice out there with a ton of suggestions that will likely never work or be suitable for you and your toddler.

For example, if you work long hours or your child has a skin condition such as eczema, you will not want to bath them every single night! This throws around 60% of the suggested bedtime routines out the window!

The best way is to pick out tips and ideas for bedtime routines and put your own one together. Once your toddler is comfortable with their routine and is sleeping better throughout the night, they will be more likely to make a smooth transition into their big bed.


Safety First! Does your toddler go Rambo-style over the crib bars?

Every new parent has read about toddlers climbing Rambo-style over the bars on their crib and falling onto the floor! 

Most of the time they never actually hurt themselves (these kids are like jelly!), but some children have hurt themselves quite badly during their “escape act”. To ensure their toddlers safety, many parents put the crib next to their own bed when this begins to happen, so the toddler lands on their soft mattress rather than a hard floor.


Kids are witty little things that figure out what you are doing, so they start climbing over the other side of the crib!

Parents then put cushions or pillows down incase their toddler falls out of the crib. However, this can never ensure that the child won’t fall at an awkward angle or get caught in the bars of the crib.

When this Rambo-style climbing begins, the first thing to do is to ensure you have lowered the crib mattress to the lowest it will go. If your toddler is still able to dive out of the crib it may be time to transition to a toddler bed (or lower the side-bar on the cot-bed if you have one).

Baby-proofed house / room

Another thing to consider when thinking about the safety of a toddler with regards to the whether they are ready to move into a big bed is whether they are safe to be left unsupervised at night or in the morning.

If your house is completely childproofed or you have a toddler-proof gate on the bedroom door, you might feel comfortable with the idea of them roaming around the house / room on their own.

Related post: How to stop your Toddler grabbing everything in sight: 8 strategies to keep your sanity!

Yep…many toddlers who sleep in toddler beds wake up way before their parents and some like to get out of bed at night time to play with their toys while the grown-ups sleep!

If you do not feel comfortable with this happening right now, you either need to hold off with the transition to a toddler bed until you have properly childproofed everything, or declutter the house and put some fun, educational toys in your toddlers bedroom for them to keep themselves occupied with in the morning before you wake up.

toddler bed

A new baby is on the way!

If you have the fantastic news that your little toddler has a new little baby brother or sister on the way, you may be wondering how the sleeping arrangements are going to work?

There are two choices here.

  1. You can have your new baby sleep in the Moses basket or crib and your toddler sleep in their new bed
  2. You keep two cribs for the time-being – if you have the space to do this.

Baby in Crib & Toddler in Big Bed

If you choose to move your toddler into their big bed so the crib is ready for your newborn, you should do so months before your new bundle of joy arrives

This gives your toddler a chance to properly transition (which can take months in some cases). Rushing the process will cause your toddler to get frustrated and make them want to stay in their baby crib.

It is always a GREAT idea to let your toddler choose their own toddler bed (within reason). Narrow it down to your top 2 or 3 favourite toddler beds and them let them decide which one they want.

This allows them to feel a sense of independence, excitement and ownership in where they will be sleeping as a “big kid”.

Baby & Toddler BOTH in cribs

You may decide to keep both children in the two cribs for a while longer. If so, try to bear in mind that your toddler might be ready for the transition to a toddler bed quite soon. Otherwise, why would you be reading this article?.

When keeping both children in cribs, you should keep the toddler bed transition stage in mind and return to it when you think it is time. However, it is best not to move your toddler into their new bed straight after your newborn has arrived.

This can create a lot of emotions in your toddler due to there being so much going on at one time. Feelings of jealousy may arise because you have given their beloved crib to their new sibling.

This should be an exciting time for them to be a “big brother or sister”, who sleeps in their own big bed. It is empowering for them to think they are giving their baby bed to their new sibling.


Is your toddler showing interest in a big bed?

Has your “well-slept, good at bedtime, has a good routine” toddler suddenly started having negative reactions to their crib? Or having battles at bedtime? They may be signalling that they want a bigger bed. They might just be getting fed up with the bars on the crib or not having the freedom to get out of the crib when they want to.

Many parents have reported trying many different techniques to get their toddler back to enjoying their cribs. Most of the time they find that their toddler was just ready to transition to a toddler bed.

If your toddler attends nursery, pre-school or kindergarten, they may also be facing a type of “peer pressure” (without so much pressure). Toddlers like to talk! Even if we don’t fully understand them sometimes, they always seem to understand each other!

If your little ones friends have been talking about their recent move into a big girl / big boy bed, your toddler may be wondering why they are still stuck in their baby bed.

If your toddler is able to communicate (semi) effectively with you, try to have a small conversation with them about moving into a toddler bed to see if it is something they might be interested in.


Potty Training…

You should not move your toddler into their big beg while they are in the middle of potty training. This can lead to a multitude of problems, including regression in their potty training journey and a refusal to sleep in their new bed.

If you are thinking of starting potty training soon, you may feel like your child is ready for a big bed (this article should have hopefully given you an idea of this). If so, move them into the toddler bed first. After a month or so, if you feel your toddler is settled into their new bed you can give the potty training a go. Or, potty train first and transition into the toddler bed once this has been established.

One of the reasons parents move their toddler into a big bed before they start potty training is because it makes the potty super-accessible to the child.

They won’t have to call for you to get them out of the crib and you won’t have to panic all the time about them trying to climb out! Keep the potty close to the bed (put the potty on a a wet mat or messy mat like these if you are worried about little accidents on the way to the potty).


So, do you think your little human is ready to transition into a toddler bed yet?


Images: Victoria Borodinova & Niek Verlaan

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toddler bed transition