Tips and Tricks to Transition from Crib to Toddler Bed
Updated: Feb 12
The toddler bed can be intimidating because it is a new environment for your child and a new bed.
There may be a few sleepless nights from being scared or uncomfortable, which can throw them off their bedtime routine.
They could also start sleeping perfectly as soon as you make the big transition.
It's a good idea to roll make this big change to a big-kid bed at the right time.
There are many reasons you may want to keep your young children in their crib.
You have unsafe stairs that cannot be avoided, your child loves to climb furniture, you're still working on potty training, so you don't want to change too much, and many more reasons.
Unfortunately, you know your child is going to get out of their own bed in the middle of the night once they’re able to.
If you want to make sure your child sticks to a bedtime routine during their transition, check out my post Consistent Bedtime Routine for Young Children.
I would like to share my tips and tricks for a smooth transition from the convertible crib to the toddler bed.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
Why Should You Move Your Child to a Toddler Bed or Twin Bed?
So how do you know when the time has come to move your child to their big kid bed?
The biggest reason parents move their children out of their crib is because they have climbed out of their crib at the lowest position.
My daughter did a front flip over the side rails and out of her crib before she turned 2, so we had to make the transition much earlier than we anticipated. Thankfully I was standing next to her so I caught her in the air. We knew the crib was not safe for her anymore and it was time for the big move.
My son showed up in our bedroom early in the morning. At 2 years of age, he managed to climb out of bed over the bed rail, walked down a flight of stairs, and marched into the master bedroom all proud of himself like it was no big deal. We are thankful he didn’t get hurt.
How Can I Make Them Comfortable?
You want their bedroom to be very comfortable, so they continue to sleep well once their bed changes to a big bed.
Both our children were so excited to not have the high railing on the side of the bed, they slept so much better in the toddler bed. Our daughter had an even better adjustment going to the even bigger bed, the double bed, but that’s a story for another time.
1. Give Them Comfort Items to Sleep With
My kids love their comfort items. Their beds have so many different items to make their nighttime routine more comfortable.
Our children love stuffed animals so there are always a few of their favorites tucked in bed next to them. They both also have special blankets they snuggle with or have nearby. My daughter has also stolen a special pillow I made my husband before we got married that has pictures of the 2 of us. She says she likes to look at it if she misses us at night.
As long as the comfort items follow the safety standards for your child's age group, it can help them have an easier time getting a good night’s sleep.
2. Turn on Night Lights
It can be scary laying in the dark alone at night no matter what type of bed you have. I’m an adult and I hate the room to be pitch black while I sleep. A soft light can help your child sleep much easier. There have been studies that show you sleep better if it’s pitch black in your room, but exceptions can be made to help your child feel more comfortable.
One of our favorite night lights is the Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine. This awesome system is controlled from an app on your phone and can be programmed for what your child needs, especially when there are new changes.
You can set the Hatch to stay on one color or rotate between rain bow colors. You can also program it to change colors depending on the time of day.
Our daughter’s Hatch is hot pink while she sleeps and turns green in the morning when it’s time to get up for school. It’s been a great teaching tool while she has been learning how to tell time.
Our son's Hatch stays one color all night long until the morning when the program turns itself off for the day.
3. Play Music or Sounds
White noise can help even adults fall asleep and can be so helpful in creating a warm and comfortable environment in your child’s room.
Our son has the sound of rain while he sleeps, and he drifts off to sleep so well in his big boy bed. As our older child, our daughter no longer likes white noise to sleep with. She prefers to listen to music at night to fall asleep to.
The Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine can be programed to play music or white noise sounds with the lights. You can also pick and choose if you don’t want sounds of you don’t want lights.
4. Let Them Pick Out Their Bedding
Depending on the age your child is when you make the transition, they may want to pick out their bedding themselves.
Our daughter’s rainbow room is perfect for her and has helped keep the transitions between bed types smooth for her.
Our son loves the color blue, and his new sheets really keep him happy when he wakes up in the morning. His special blue dinosaur blanket glows in the dark and is very soft. It’s one of his favorite things to snuggle if he wakes up in the morning, but still wants to snuggle in his bed.
What are Ways to Keep Them Safe Once Transitioned?
The house can be full of unsafe things they can get into without your supervision in the middle if the night. Even if you childproof your house, there are still safety concerns that you will need to address.
1. Put a Safety Gate at the Top of Stairs
This worked great when our daughter transitioned from the crib to the toddler bed. We were able to install a safety gate that opened like a door at the top of the stairs.
This gate is still there but is not as safe as it once was. Since our daughter is 5 years old now, she has newfound freedom in our house. We decided it’s not safe or fair for her to be locked upstairs anymore. In an emergency, we want her to be able to get downstairs. Therefore, it's a good thing the second option is a great idea.
2. Put a Safety Gate in Their Bedroom Doorway
To allow our daughter to keep her freedom and keep our son in his bedroom, we decided to install a tension gate in his doorway. It goes on the outside of his door so his bedroom door can still be closed, but he can’t leave his room.
We also taught our daughter how to kick the gate down in case of an emergency if she needs to get him out of his bedroom. We used a plastic gate and it’s very easy to remove.
Another thing to remember is to use a gate that is taller than their crib rail. If they can scale a crib railing, they can scale a short baby gate. The gate we used is much higher than his crib sides were.
My mother told me she stacked 2 baby gates for my brother, but he decided to climb both, so she gave up on that. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that with our son.
3. Install a Doorknob Cover
If you’re not a fan of gates, you could install a doorknob cover on the inside of their door. You will be able to close their bedroom door and the doorknob cover keeps them from opening the door.
Fire safety states that bedroom doors should be closed at night to prevent fires from spreading from room to room. The doorknob cover is a great idea if you plan on keeping the door shut all night.
4. Install the Toddler Rail
When we bought our children’s convertible cribs, we also bought all the conversion kits. We’ve held onto those kits for years knowing we would need them one day. The toddler guard rails give your child the freedom of a regular bed, but you can keep your child on the crib mattress. They still have a side safety rails so they would have a hard time rolling out of bed.
When it was time to transition our children to their toddler beds, we were able to grab the toddler rails and make the quick switch. Our daughter is transitioned to the double bed, so we used her double bed conversion kit as well.
Just remember, you need the crib side for the footboard of the double bed, so don’t get rid of any sides when you transition from crib to toddler bed.
If you did not purchase the toddler rail, but you want to convert your child's crib into a toddler bed, you can grab a convertible crib bed rail that can keep your child safe in their bed.
Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed is such a big step for your little one and can be bittersweet for mama.
It can be hard watching your new baby move to that toddler stage when it feels like you just brought them home from the hospital.
Just remember, the transition doesn’t have to be hard, and they may even sleep better once the change is made.
What are some ways you made the crib to toddler bed transition easier?
Are there any things your child needed to help with the transition?
Let us know in the comments below!