Transitioning a child from a crib to a toddler bed is a huge milestone in their life. It often comes with a wide range of emotions for your little one like anxiety, excitement, or irritability about making such a big change. These emotions can require extra patience as a parent. If you’re familiar with the wrath of a raging toddler, you avoid those big reactions at all costs possible. How do you know when your toddler is ready?
Every child is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for when to make the switch. This transition can happen anytime between the ages of 18 months and 3 ½ years old. There are certain indicators that it’s time to opt for a toddler bed, like if your toddler can climb out of the crib or has started to potty train. However, there are also indicators of when it’s best to wait a little bit longer until the timing is right. Today, I’m sharing a roundup of factors that may indicate your toddler isn’t quite ready yet.
9 Signs Your Toddler Is Not Ready for a Bed
Many signs can be used to gauge your child’s readiness to transition into a big kid bed. Here are some common signs that you may want to keep them in their crib for a little bit longer:
Your child is younger than 3
Some kids may transition to a toddler bed before 3, but many children aren’t developmentally ready yet to make the move. Your toddler may find comfort and safety in the walls of their crib, and removing them from their safe space may result in a major freakout. With your toddler growing at a rapid rate, the difference between the ages of 18 months and 3 years in maturity and understanding of boundaries is huge. Many sleep consultants recommend holding off until your toddler is at least 3 years old.
Your child can’t sleep through the night
If your toddler is struggling to sleep through the night, throwing in change may make the situation worse. If they’re restless, persistently crying, or struggling with staying in bed, I would recommend tackling the issues at hand before adding a new bed into the mix to avoid a sleep regression.
Your child likes to push boundaries
Boundaries are important when it comes to the freedom of a new bed. Not being able to understand that their bed is their designated space to sleep may mean they get up to play or leave their bedroom in the middle of the night. If boundaries are a constant battle in your home during the daytime, your toddler likely won’t respect them at bedtime either.
Your child is afraid to sleep alone
If your toddler is too scared to sleep alone, they may not be ready for a toddler bed yet. It’s important to patiently reassure them until they feel safe and secure being on their own during the night. Holding off on a big bed until they can independently get a good night’s rest will be the best option for your toddler in the long run. There are many sleeping products for toddlers that can provide peace of mind and help them adjust to sleeping alone more easily.
Your child resists bedtime
If just thinking about bedtime leads to tantrums, your toddler may not be ready to leave the familiarity, security, and protection of their crib. Resisting bedtime and not being able to follow instructions is a sign they’re likely not ready for the freedom that comes with their own bed.
Your child’s space isn’t toddler-proof
A new bed means your toddler will have the freedom to roam around while you’re not there to supervise. If there is furniture that isn’t secured to the wall or any potential safety hazards, wait until the room is completely safe for your child. Be sure to cover electrical outlets and wrap any chords, lock cabinets and drawers, and secure all furniture to the wall to protect your little one.
Your child is unable to self-soothe
If your child is unable to calm themselves down at night, you may want to wait to buy a toddler bed. Being able to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own is important if they’re getting their own bed. Persistent crying or needing a parent to soothe them to sleep may mean they’re not yet ready for a big kid bed.
Your child is uninterested
If your toddler is uninterested in a big bed, there’s no need to rush. Especially if they’re under the weight and height limit for their crib, waiting may be a good idea. When your child is ready for a big kid bed, they will make that very clear. Waiting until they show interest keeps the transition positive and exciting and can help minimize bumps in the road.
There’s a major life change
Introducing the freedom of a big bed will likely come with pushed boundaries. The transition will require extra patience on your end while they adjust. If you’re in a period of transition yourself (new baby, moving, returning to work, etc.) you may need to stick with the smooth, tantrum-free bedtimes that you and your toddler have worked together to get to. Your child will likely be experiencing extra emotions in any transition as well, and the familiarity of staying inside of the crib may help prevent overwhelm for both you and your toddler.
Making the transition easier
If it’s not the right time yet to move your toddler to a big kid bed, there are many ways to help keep them in their crib and make your own life easier until they’re ready for this big milestone.
Consistency- why is a bedtime routine important for a child?
A bedtime routine is essential to building healthy sleep habits for your little one. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that an estimated 20-30% of infants and toddlers have sleep problems. Bedtime routines encourage self-care practices, parent-child bonding, a sense of security, and have been shown to positively impact behavior. Having a consistent routine that will stay the same regardless of what bed they’re in will provide your little one with peace and familiarity during a time of many milestones and changes. Having a nighttime routine will help prepare your child to be more receptive when the time comes for them to transition out of their crib.
Use a sleep sack
A sleep sack can help keep your child from moving around too much so they can stay safe and get a better night’s sleep.
Lower mattress in crib
Adjusting the mattress to the lowest setting is recommended before your toddler is able to stand on their own.
Remove extra items from the crib
Toys, blankets, and any extra objects in the crib can be used by your toddler as a stepping stool to climb outside of bed. Removing any extra items from the crib is recommended for their safety.
Making your expectations clear can help your child understand that getting out of their crib isn’t acceptable. Every child is different, and boundaries will become easier for them to follow as you and your little one learn and grow together.
Convertible cribs are an investment, however it may be worth it to make the transition smoother for you. A convertible crib adapts as your child grows bigger. Once you’ve transitioned your child from a crib, it can convert into a toddler bed, a twin bed, and even a full-sized bed.
You play a vital role in advocating for your child and what they need during this exciting stage of their life. Each child has unique needs to best support their development. My toddler sleep support guide has more tips to help your little ones adjust as they grow. If you’re struggling with bedtime, check out our sleep services to get some extra guidance. As always, we’re open to any questions or concerns as you navigate through these special moments with your children.