Transitioning from a Crib to a Bed


In this post: How to successfully transition your child from a crib to a big kid bed.

How to successfully transition your child from a crib to a big kid bed.

For many Babywise moms, the transition from a crib to a bed is much easier than they anticipated. That is how it was for us with Brayden. We moved Brayden from the crib to a twin size bed when he was 21 months old (but close to 22 months old). At the same time, he also moved to a new room. It was shortly before Kaitlyn was born, and I wanted him to be fully adjusted before Kaitlyn came along to sleep in the crib.

I was nervous. I didn’t want him to get out of his bed and play instead of sleep. We moved him over, and things went smoothly. We had no problems. A Babywise child typically has little difficulty (relatively speaking) with this transition because he is trained to obedience. He is required to obey mommy all day, so why should night be any different? It isn’t.

On Becoming Toddlerwise Tips
Toddlerwise talks about this transition starting on page 135. Here are some highlights:

  • Typically happens between ages 18-24 months.
  • The only thing that holds your child in bed to sleep is your word. There are no longer physical boundaries. Your word needs to be obeyed in the day if you want it to be obeyed at night.
  • Moving to a bed is a freedom. Be sure your child is ready for that freedom.
  • You can include your child in purchasing the new bed and the sheets etc. (although we didn’t do this; we already had it all).
  • The child can help set up the bed and make the bed.
  • Do it on a night when Mom and Dad can both be there in the morning to make a big deal out of the transition.
  • Do not allow your child to get out of bed without your permission. Teach them to call to you when they want to get up.
  • Buy a side rail for the bed for your child’s safety.

My Tips:

  • Be sure your child has something familiar to carry over to the new bed. You want to be clear that this new bed is where your child now sleeps. Brayden had a few stuffed animals that he slept with in his crib. He also had his blankie. I put those on his bed with him to sleep just like he had in his crib.
  • Have a naptime and bedtime routine. Singing a song, reading a story, etc. Whatever your routine is, it will help signal your child that it is now time for sleep. See this post for more: Sleep Routine:
  • Get a side rail for sure. This helped me feel much better about his safety in the night. I also put a pillow at the foot of his bed, and a pillow between the side rail and the pillow at the foot of the bed just to help have a boundary. He has never fallen out of bed (his bed is against a wall).
  • If you put the bed against a wall, you might need to roll up some blankets to put between the mattress and the wall if there is a gap.
  • I have said it before, but if you read stories, I recommend not reading them in the bed. We used to do that. Bedtime ended up being dragged out. Kids are very good at lengthening out the time of the bedtime routine. We read stories in a recliner–and we also have a predetermined number of stories that will be read.
  • Give lots of praise for obedience and show a lot of excitement over the transition. I know I was emotional, but I didn’t show that to Brayden.

Toddler Bed vs. Twin BedWhat type of bed you get can be a tough call. In the end, I think you need to make the decision that is most convenient for your family. Here is some criteria to consider:

  • Price. We already owned a twin bed. I considered buying a toddler bed for Brayden, but in the end decided to go with what we had. We would have had to buy the toddler bed and the mattress since we were using the crib mattress for the crib. We also would have had to store our twin bed somewhere while using the toddler bed. In the end, it just logically made more sense to use the bed we already owned.
  • Extras. As I mentioned, toddler beds require a crib mattress. If you will have another child while your toddler is using the toddler bed, then you will have to buy another mattress. If not, you already have the mattress and the sheets for a toddler bed.
  • Future Use. Is this your last child? Are there other children in your future? Will you have other children who will get use out of the toddler bed? How long would you anticipate using the toddler bed before buying a twin? One determining factor for me was that Brayden would be moved to a twin bed in a couple of years anyway. I decided it was better to just stick with buying stuff for one bed rather than two. If you have future children, however, they could use the toddler bed when the child moves to twin. When we have our next child, we plan to have Brayden and Kaitlyn share their room. At that time, we will either get bunk beds or a trundle bed for under Brayden’s bed. So I knew the toddler bed wouldn’t be used in the future by

    How to successfully transition your child from a crib to a big kid bed.


  • Space. A toddler bed is a lot smaller than a twin bed. If you have limited space right now, you might want to go with the toddler bed instead of the twin.
  • Safety. This really isn’t a huge deal, I think (not that I think safety isn’t a huge deal, but that either bed is safe). The fall from a toddler bed is a shorter distance than from a twin bed. But as mentioned above, you can take measures against that. A toddler bed is easier for a toddler to get in and out of (for better or worse). Brayden has a step stool next to his bed to help him get in and out (it is pretty high).

In the end, one bed isn’t fundamentally better than the other. Do what is best for your family’s situation and your child.
Staying in Bed

  • If your child gets out of bed after you instruct him not to, evaluate yourself and see if there are parenting gaps you need to correct.
  • When your child calls out to you, respond. You want to reward him for listening to you. I can see some kids calling out after a few minutes and declaring the nap over. Respond and inform him that naptime is not over yet, that he needs to sleep, etc.
  • Toddlerwise says to initially instruct your child to not get out of bed until you come get him. So how long is initially? Toddlerwise doesn’t say. Brayden is almost three, and I still don’t allow him to get out of bed until I come get him. I know Brayden and know that sleep is absolutely last on his list of priorities. If I allowed him to get out of bed on his own, I think he would get up and play with his toys instead of sleeping. Things might be different with Kaitlyn since she loves to sleep. For now, Brayden still stays in bed until I get him. I can see him moving in the direction of being ready to take that responsibility on himself, but he isn’t ready yet. You will have to decide when your child is ready. Of course you want the day to come when your child gets up on his own. He needs to be completely ready to take a nap, then get up. Not lay for a while then get up and play.
  • What do you do if they get out? Brayden never did this until several months ago. He went about a year without ever getting out of his bed without permission. I went in and told him he needed to get in his bed. I then told him he needed to stay there until Mommy or Daddy came to get him. I then put him in his bed and left the room for a few minutes. I went back in and he was in his bed. I praised him for obeying and being a good boy and got him out (it was the end of his nap). This happened a couple of times (seemingly randomly). It seems to be fine now.
  • Whatever your rules will be for staying in bed, decide on them before you move your child over so you are ready if you are faced with your child getting out on his own.

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