The decision to swap out your little one’s crib for a big kid bed is not to be taken lightly. It’s a major upgrade; it means your kiddo is growing up and that they’re ready for a new level of independence. But if you’re questioning when to transition to a toddler bed, know that there’s no universal answer. The timing is crucial—make the upgrade too early and it can backfire; wait too long and your child may resist. Fortunately, it’s not a total guessing game, and your kiddo may show signs that they’re ready for the change. Interested in making the transition to a toddler bed? Here’s what you need to know.
When to Transition to a Toddler Bed
Every child is different and deciding that it’s time to transition to a toddler bed will be contingent on a few factors, not least of which is age. The typical age of readiness for transitioning to a toddler bed is between 18 months and 3 years.
Signs it’s time to say goodbye to the cot
Think your kiddo might be ready to make the leap? If they’re in the recommended toddler bed age range, there are some additional readiness signs to look for:
If they’re climbing out of the cot
If your youngster has started to climb out of their cot, you’ll know they’re ready for a big bed. As soon as they’re able to make a bid for freedom, it’s a clear sign the cot’s no longer serving its intended purpose. And if your little one does manage to leave their cot, it could be a health hazard – as they could trip and fall whilst getting out.
If they’re growing too big
How big your little one is getting is another important thing to consider. It could be that they’re a tad too heavy to easily lift in and out of the cot – or perhaps they’re no longer able to comfortably stretch out.
Either way, it should be clear once your child is getting too big for their much-loved cot. With the standard 120 x 60cm mattress dimensions, kids typically outgrow their cot once they reach the age of three – though of course, this doesn’t take individual growth spurts into consideration.
If they’re potty training
Ah, potty training. The constant cycle of encouraging your little one to meet their target, whether it’s first thing in the morning or the dead of night.
When it comes to needing the toilet in the early hours, a cot can sometimes be an obstacle in the way. It’s much easier for little ones to clamber in and out of a bed compared to a cot – and could make all the difference between a dry night and an extra set of washing.
If they’ve asked for a big bed
If your kiddie has an older sibling with a big bed, the green monster may come to visit. Sometimes, there’s no guesswork involved when you decide to ditch the cot – they might just come right out and ask you!
When your kids ask the question, you’ll know that they’re emotionally ready to take the step. So, if your little one is badgering you for their first big bed, there’s little stopping you from taking the plunge.
How to switch from a cot to a bed
So, the time has come to make the transition to the BIG bed, but now you’re faced with even more questions… what size bed, what kind of bedding, how do you make it safe and so on.
Choosing the right bed
Most parents choose to use a toddler bed to start with when making the transition out of the crib. This is because it is roughly the same size as their crib and is low to the ground, meaning your toddler can get in and out easily and if they roll out of bed, it isn’t going to hurt them.
Many cribs now can convert to toddler beds by removing one side of the crib to allow them to get in and out. Keeping the other side of the crib up provides a sense of security and familiarity for your toddler and can help to ease this transition. If your child has outgrown their crib though, or you need the crib for a new baby, you may want to look at getting a full-sized bed for them as this will last longer.
We recommend using a sleeping bag or sleepsuit with legs for your child for as long as possible. This ensures your little one stays nice and warm as they aren’t kicking the covers off. No one wants to be woken in the middle of the night to pull up a duvet cover. Keeping something familiar, such as their sleeping bag, will also help to ease the transition to their new bed.
When it comes time to move to a pillow and duvet, there are lots of options and it can be great fun shopping for ones they’ll love. Look for bedding that is fun and engaging and one that is easy care, like the range at Bloomsbury Mill. We also recommend buying at least two bedding sets so you have a spare set in case of accidents in the night.
Some children move a lot in their sleep. If your child is a wriggler then you may want to consider using a bed guard/rail so they don’t accidentally roll out of bed.
If your house has stairs then consider installing gates at the top and bottom of your stairs. This way, if your child does get out of bed in the middle of the night or in the morning, you don’t have to worry about them falling down the stairs. Some parents choose to put a gate on their child’s door instead, to ensure they remain safe in their room when they get out of their bed.
How to prepare your toddler for this transition
Very few children cope well with sudden changes to their bedtime routine so give your child prior warning that a change is coming. You might say something like “In 5 sleeps time you’re not going to sleep in your crib anymore. You’re going to sleep in a bed because you’re getting more grown up.” Each day repeat it and count down the days, so they understand change is coming.
Get them involved
Your child hasn’t made this decision and moving to a bed is unfamiliar to them. To help them feel involved and positive about the transition, consider letting them pick out their own bedding and invite them to help you make the bed.
If your toddler sleeps with a particular stuffed animal, pillow or baby blanket, it can help to let them continue sleeping with these items, even if they're a little small for the new bed.
You might want to spend more time with your toddler in their room on the days leading up to the transition, especially on the day itself. This will help them to feel more secure and comfortable in that space and give them a chance to adjust to how their room has changed.
Moving around your bedroom furniture can take some getting used to, even for adults. With this in mind, you may want to place the toddler bed in the same spot where the crib used to be, to help your child ease into the switch.
Some toddlers take the move to a bed in their stride, but for others it’s a big step and they may need lots of reassurance from you. You may just need to give your little one a bit of time and patience. They'll take their cues from you, so try not to get too frustrated if it’s a challenge at first. Stay calm and stick to your normal routine as far as possible. This will help to reassure your child that there's lots that's still the same.