The Move to a Big Bed

Kids Room

Some children are ready at 18 months and others not until 3 years, but whenever you choose to move your toddler to a big bed, know it may take some adjustment for all involved. Maybe you’ve tried moving your toddler only to have him scream and cry. Or maybe you aren’t ready for your baby to move to a toddler bed, but she is. Here are some things to consider.

• What kind of bed? Some parents purchase toddler beds that have partial bars or buy a crib that transforms to a youth bed. Others save the expense of the toddler bed by moving their child from a crib to a regular twin bed with a side rail attached.

• Parent intuition. If you or your child isn’t comfortable with the move to a big bed, perhaps it isn’t time. Consider why you feel the move should happen now or why it shouldn’t. Don’t do it because a friend’s child has or because someone else has said you should. There is no time frame for moving a child to a big bed other than when you and he are both ready.

• New independence. Moving a child to a bed means he can easily get in and out. You may put him back to bed several times a night or discover him happily playing in the bathroom sink when you thought he was sound asleep.

• Making a smooth transition. Candice sat up her daughter’s toddler bed next to her crib. She let her daughter sleep in the toddler bed at naptime.

“She had to be tired enough to sleep or she would climb out of it and come find me,” Candice said. “But then one night she just went into her room and climbed into the youth bed and went to sleep, so it was her choice when to move to the toddler bed.”

• The right timing. A child needs to feel safe and secure to make the transition to a big bed. Avoid doing it right before or after the birth of a sibling, right after mom goes back to work, after a move, or other times when the child is dealing with change.

“We moved our son out of his crib as soon as we found out I was pregnant,” Jenna says. “By the time he found out we were expecting, he was used to the big bed and didn’t feel like he gave it up for the new baby.”

• Crib compromise. Tracy’s son didn’t want to leave his crib, but was old enough. She left the side down and put a step stool next to the crib so he could remain in his crib but could also get in and out by himself.

“It worked for both of us. He could get himself up in the morning, but he still had the security of the crib,” Tracy says.

Toddler Bed Safety Checklist

Whether you buy new or used, check for these items.

• No space between mattress and sides of bed.

• Raised sides or other features to prevent falling out.

• Firm, but not hard, mattress. Don’t buy a used, lumpy mattress.

• All bolts and brackets are securely in place.

• No missing pieces.

• No sharp corners.


Kathy Cassel lives with her husband, five of their children and an assortment of pets in the Florida panhandle.