When to Ditch the Crib

Switching from a crib to a toddler bed is a big step in your child’s life. Making the decision to transition out of a crib should be based on your child’s interest, maturity and safety. There is no set age or time limit on beds that are most appropriate for your child; it’s up to you and your little one to determine what works best for your family.

Here are some tips for when to ditch the crib:

when to ditch the crib_109063278The most obvious reason to ditch the crib is if your baby is consistently climbing out of the crib. Escaping from the crib poses a potential safety hazard not only because your baby may fall and hurt herself, but also because then she may have free reign of the house without your knowledge and supervision. If your baby is climbing out of the crib but is not yet mature enough for a toddler bed, make sure the crib mattress is at its lowest position and ensure no bulky toys are in the crib that can be used as a “step” for your baby to more easily climb out of the crib. If your little Houdini is only escaping occasionally, you can surround the crib with cushions to help keep her safe if she falls.

Toddlers who show interest in sleeping in a “big kid” bed and have the maturity to stay in bed (most of the time) without wandering the house may be ready for the transition. A crib’s rails provide strict boundaries but a toddler bed has imaginary boundaries since, even if you have safety rails, your child can climb out of bed at her leisure. Kiddos who can understand and respect the imaginary boundary are probably ready to sleep in a bed. Also, if your child is old enough to leave her room on her own without wreaking havoc in your house, a bed may give your little one some welcome independence.

Sometimes parents ditch the crib because a new baby is on the way. This can go smoothly if your toddler is truly ready for the change. It’s best to do it several months prior to the baby’s arrival to help your child get acclimated to the new sleeping arrangement. If she’s not ready by the time your baby is born, you can see if a few months of being an older sibling makes a difference since the baby can sleep in a bassinet for awhile.

Once you commit to the transition from a crib to a toddler bed, make it a fun family event. Talk about the change for a few weeks prior to switching out the beds. Allow your little one to pick out sheets, pillows and a blanket to make the bed feel special and personal. But keep some elements familiar: put the bed in the same place as the crib and keep your bedtime routine the same to give your tot a sense of security. Set rules about when it is OK for your child to get out of bed too. This may be a good time to introduce a sleep/wake clock that signals to your child when she can get up. You can also talk about emergency situations that require your child to leave her room.

Second and subsequent children often have an easier time transitioning to a bed because they want to be like their older siblings. Being a “big kid” is an aspiration, but make sure you and your little one is truly ready before giving into this request. It may affect your toddler’s sleep for awhile, and therefore yours as well.

Most children transition out of the crib into a bed between 1½ and 3½ years old. No one can dictate when the time is right for your little one so follow your child’s cues and your mommy instinct on when to ditch the crib.

Sources: Café Mom’s The Stir and Baby Center