Nothing says “big kid” more than moving from a crib to a bed. It is certainly bittersweet for parents to watch our children grow and develop in this way, it is a milestone of sorts. But how do we make sure to make this transition easier? We need to make sure our child is ready for the move. It is best not to rush into this. Children feel comforted with the crib bars surrounding them. It feels cozy, safe, and familiar! “So when is a good time to move my child to a bed?” you ask. Well, here’s my thoughts:
Hold off on until your child is at least 3 years old. (I know! I know! Sounds crazy!)
Many 4-year old’s sleep beautifully in a crib! Before 3 years old, children are not developmentally ready to for this big change. Moving a child to a bed too early can disrupt sleep (early rising and frequent night waking).
If they turn 3 and they are not asking for a bed, you do not have to move them.
If you feel your child is old enough and developmentally ready to make the move, here are a few ways to transition smoothly:
- Keep your routines the same. Consistency and routine help children feel comfortable and more relaxed, so make sure you continue to follow the same bedtime routine you had when he slept in the crib.
- Keep the bedroom safe and dark. Use room darkening shades to help keep out light for daytime and nighttime sleep. Now that your child has free range of the room, make sure the room is completely child proofed.
- Have a family meeting. It is important to explain the new expectations to your child (he must stay in the bed until a set time, or he can get up when his clock changes color). You can also make some simple sleep rules with your child. Hang them next to the bed and review them each day.
- Involve your child in the process. Let him help pick out new sheets or a new stuffed animal to sleep with.
- Set boundaries. You can put a piece of painters tape on the floor near the door to the bedroom, showing your child that he should not go past the tape.
- Shut the door or use a gate. These are both perfectly safe ways to help show your child that he must stay in his bed/room until wake up time. Do NOT lock your child into the bedroom.
- Start using a toddler clock. This is a great tool for helping children understand when they are allowed to get up in the morning.
Make sure your child is ready for the move and be patient, consistent and clear with boundaries and expectations to have a smooth, sweet transition!
Written in part by Macaroni Kid follower and Certified Child Sleep Consultant, Johanna Snyder of Sleep Soundly Consulting. Reach her at