When to move to a bed: Is it time to leave the crib?

There are some signs to look for to see if your toddler is ready to make the switch from crib to bed. Photo: Abigail Batchelder

SILVER SPRING, Md, May 25, 2013 – At some point every child must move from a crib to a bed. But when is the best time take that big step? Unfortunately, those looking for a definitive answer will be disappointed. Just like so many of the milestones of toddlerhood, the right time is dependent upon the child. However, there are some points to consider when trying to decide if your little one is ready to move to a big kid bed.

Physically outgrowing the crib

Cribs come in different sizes, and so do children. If you have a small crib and a child that is in the upper percentiles of height, you may find that your little one no longer fits comfortably in the crib sooner than the other mothers in your play group. In which case, necessity will dictate when you move your child to a “big kid” bed. If you have a convertible crib that changes into a toddler bed by simply removing on side, you will not have to worry about your child becoming too big to sleep comfortably. However, any child can become too big for their crib if the rails come below mid-chest when the mattress is in its lowest position. It becomes too easy at this point for potential falls.

If the crib rails at with the mattress in the lowest position are below mid-chest, you child has outgrown his crib. Photo by surlygirl via Flickr.


Climbing out

If some days you think you have a monkey rather than a toddler, than perhaps you should consider making the move to a bed. Children can hurt themselves falling when they try to climb out of a crib. First, verify you cannot drop the mattress any lower. Lowering the mattress will in effect raise the rails, making it harder for your little one to liberate himself from nap time and buying you more time with the crib. If your little one is still making attempts to exit the crib on his own, it is probably time to graduate to a big kid bed. All it takes is one botched crib escape for your little one to be seriously hurt.  

Potty training

If you are deep into potty training, and your child will take himself to the bathroom when he needs to potty, then you might want to consider making the switch. Eliminating the barrier between him and being able to get to the potty when he needs to go can be the key to successfully getting rid of the diapers. So, rather than needing to wait for you to respond to his calls for help and risking an accident, why not try moving to a “big kid” bed and empowering him to make the decision about when it’s time to get out bed to potty.

Arrival of a new baby

If you are thinking about making the switch to a bed to allow a new baby to use the crib, plan ahead. Switching your child to a new bed can cause sleep issue by itself, and introducing a new baby to the family can make any a child feel like he is being replaced. Put those two together, and you have a recipe for fights and rejection of the new bed. To prevent any feeling of rejection due to a new baby taking over a crib, make the switch well in advance of your new arrival, at least 6-8 weeks. The extra time before baby also gives you a chance to see if your older child is truly ready to switch.  

Wanting to use the crib for a new baby is a reason many parents move their toddlers to a bed. Photo by lisatozzi via Flickr.


Safety concerns in switching too early

While safety concerns can prompt you to make the switch from crib to bed, there are other safety issues that need to be considered before making the switch for any reason. What if your child gets up before you do? Will he be able to get out of his room and injure himself somewhere else in the house? If you keep the door to your child’s room shut, is there other furniture he might try to climb to reach stuffed animals or books that are otherwise out of reach? Does your child still wake up in the middle of the night? What will happen if he does and gets out of bed? Will he get out of bed and wander? These are all things that should be considered before switching to a bed. Where possible eliminate any possible dangers that may have been missed in your earlier baby-proofing. Things that may not have been dangerous to a crawling or toddling baby, may be dangerous to an adventurous, climbing toddler.

Some children adjust to their new bed quickly and never miss their crib, others struggle. Since there is no set time for moving to a bed, pay attention to your child’s behavior. You know him best and will be able to determine if he is ready or not.


Follow Brighid on Twitter a @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook or Google+. She also writes picture book reviews at Big Reads For Little Hands. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret


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