Our Tips for Transitioning from Crib to “Big Kid Bed”

This milestone is often one that you hope your toddler won’t be quick to achieve. The dreaded escape artist! For some, it’s super early. They love to climb, and those crib rails are just too tempting. This can be a scary transition to take on, and it’s one that requires adjustments to their room environment and a plan of action to keep your little one safe.

Get ready…you need a plan! 

Stay calm. If you panic, your child will panic the first moment they are left alone. React with confidence. 

Try readjusting the crib before transitioning. Bring their mattress to the floor of their crib, if possible, keeping the crib rails up. Giving your child a harder time climbing out of the crib can keep them in the crib a little longer…giving you more time to get a bed and childproof their room (if you haven’t already done so). If your crib has one side that is higher (a higher back, for example) turn your crib around to help limit them from climbing over the shorter sides. 

Give a sleep sack a try! Putting your child in a wearable sleep sack can prevent them from getting the traction needed to escape. If your little one is able to zip and unzip the sleep sack, there are some you can buy that are able to be worn backwards to prevent them from unzipping.

If all else fails, bring in the bed. It’s not the end of the world to transition your child into a bed. You gotta do it at some point! Just convert your crib into a toddler bed or bring in the mattress. Lay it on the floor if you don’t have a bed frame yet. Make that bed super cozy and comfortable for your child to enjoy.

Give them a comfort item. Or two or three items, if need be. Children love to have an item that is with them wherever they go. Especially when transitioning into a new setting.

Give them your t-shirt. Let them wear one of your t-shirts to sleep in during the first night (maybe week) you start. The idea of wearing your clothes to bed and your scent will not only distract them from the transition but also comfort them during the night.

Safety first. Your child needs a completely safe room. All furniture needs to be fastened to the wall so it can’t be knocked over by a climbing toddler. All cords need to be out of reach — they are a strangulation hazard. You also need to decide on how to keep your child in the room. Ideally, the bedroom door needs to stay closed. It’s safest for them to not be able to wander around the house. A closed door is also best in the event of a fire within your home.

Be sure all electrical outlets are covered. Make sure all toys and objects are safely stored and nothing in the room within reach is a choking hazard.

Remember, your child will likely explore their room at some point (if not often) with their newfound freedom. We want their entire room to be safe.

A toddler clock can help. If your little one is over the age of 2, adding a toddler clock can be a useful tool for helping them understand when they are allowed out of bed. The addition of a toddler clock can take time. You will need to start using the clock and referencing the clock throughout the day during bedtime, nap time and wake ups. Over time, your child will learn to associate the color on the clock with when it’s okay to get out of bed! Be patient. 

Keep your routine. Don’t change things up on your child. Keep the same bedtime routine, while giving them a new place to snooze. It’s all about consistency here! If you change things up drastically on them, it might be a long few weeks for all.

Handle any struggles with some gentle sleep training. I love keeping your same routine as much as possible, but if your child starts bouncing off the walls with the newfound freedom, start your sleep training process. I love going slow and steady when transitioning. Using a gentle method really allows for confidence to build as your child navigates this change.

No matter what method you choose, give them time to understand! Be consistent…but do it in love. 

As always, we are here to help. If you need a plan, please reach out for a free consultation below.




I'm Marli

I am the owner of and lead baby and toddler sleep consultant at The Cradle Coach. I am a family-first mom of three, goal-oriented entrepreneur, to-do list extraordinaire, avid dreamer and unshakable optimist dedicated to helping tired families all around the world give their child the best sleep possible.


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