When to Transition from Crib to Bed?

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Good timing, the right equipment and a couple of smart mommy ideas are what make your toddler's transition from crib to bed a success. If you choose an unhappy moment, the bed does not work out practically or it's all happening in a rush ... your baby will struggle to adapt to the new situation well.

In fact, she may resist quite strongly.

Let's have a look at timing first, right below. Or jump to How to help your toddler transition well right away.

When to transition? Choose your crib to bed moment wisely

Safety Toddler Bed Bumper

Moving from the crib to a "big kid" toddler bed is a big step for your little one! Timing this well is going to be critical. So when is a good age to transition to a toddler bed, or regular big bed? Most toddlers make this transition somewhen between 1,5 and 2,5 years old.

But as a parent you know that there's never one precise age for these events. It all depends on your child's personality, ability and your family situation.

The best moment to go is when she's physically and mentally "ready".

  • Physically ready means she can climb in and out of bed independently and safely. She should also be strong and big enough not to get squashed in between wall and bedside or get stuck in the bed rail (see my recommendations for choosing a good bed rail ).

    Size can also be a valid reason to move: when the crib simply becomes too small and she's not comfortable in it anymore, it will be time to go.
  • Mentally ready means your toddler has gained some level of independence - whether from her crib or from the family bed. It will be big help if she has grown sensitive to being proud to be a big kid.

    Not sure about your toddler's maturity level regarding the crib to bed move?

    Imagine explaining to your child what is going to happen, chat about it regularly, shop for bedding and prepare the bedroom together. Would she understand what's going on? If yes, then she's oh so ready. If no, give yourselves some more time (unless the practical constraints force you to, see below).

    Remember, we are still talking about baby-comprehension. It's not about having a high-level sophisticated talk, just that she gets the idea, and that it's not all above her head.

Also take your current family situation and any practical constraints into account:

  • Family situation : are you about to have a new baby? Then consider transitioning your older one to a bed either well before, or well after birth. Getting a sibling is already a stressful time for your toddler so too close too birth is not ideal to make too many changes.

    Be very careful to avoid your toddler feeling "kicked out" of the crib to make room for the new baby. That wouldn't be a nice start to sibling-hood. And it'd automatically give troubles with the settling in the new bed.

    If there is stress in your family for any other reason (illness, new job, move, ...) do try to avoid transitioning during this time. Wait for a quieter moment.
  • Practical constraints : do you need the crib for the new baby (see above)? Are you moving to a new home and keeping the crib just is not practical? Are you going on vacation soon and would love to avoid needing to take the travel crib, so she can just sleep in a hotel bed?

    These are all valid reasons to get started with the big bed. They can even help you make the decision, in case you have been putting it off for some reason.

You don't need every single factor to be perfect for the crib to bed move to work out. Sometimes it's just not possible to await the ideal moment. But the more helping factors you have, the smoother it will go.

In any case, always weigh in the ready-ness of your child and your current family situation first. The practical can play, but it shouldn't be the most important.

Ready to go ahead? Read on for practical tips on how to transition.

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.