How to Transition from Crib to Big Kid Bed

August 17, 2023

Think your little one may be ready for a very BIG milestone? We're talking about the big kid bed – and it's a big deal! Whether you think your kiddo is ready to make the transition from crib to bed or you’re preparing for when the right time comes, we’ve got you covered.

What's the Right Age to Switch from Crib to Bed?

Most kiddos switch to a big kid bed between 18 months and three years old. This is a big age gap – for a very good reason! Every child is different, and much like other milestones, there is no specific time that your little one should transition to a bigger bed. They should transition when they’re ready.

8 Signs Your Kiddo Is Ready for the Crib-to-Bed Transition

As a parent, you know your child’s personality, habits and temperament best out of anyone. This is why it’s important to use your discretion – along with observing some telltale signs – when trying to decide if your kiddo is ready for their next big sleep step. Here are a few of those signs to look out for before making the crib-to-bed transition.

1. Their Crib Is as Low as it Goes

Toddler standing next to her crib, which is on the lowest settingToddler standing next to her crib, which is on the lowest setting

How low can you go? Or, in this case, how low is your kiddo’s crib? If your child’s crib is at the lowest setting, and the guardrails are as high as they can go, it might be time to think about making the switch to a toddler or twin mattress.

This is especially true if you notice this next step, too…

2. They Can Climb in and out of Their Crib

Your child climbing out of a crib that has the guardrails all the way up is one of the most obvious signs that it’s time to transition to a big kid bed. Although climbing out of a kids bed may still lead to unsafe situations, it is generally much safer to fall out of a toddler bed than a crib.

On average, the drop from the crib on its lowest setting to the floor is 4.5 feet, while the drop from a toddler bed to the floor is only 2 feet. We want to avoid as many falls as possible, but knowing that kids are curious (and clumsy), parents can avoid making an accidental fall higher than it needs to be by transitioning from the crib when the time is right.

3. Your Child Doesn’t fit in their Crib Anymore

If your little one simply doesn’t fit in their crib anymore, then it’s probably time to make the change. If they’re taller than 35 inches – or if the crib railing is at their chest line when they stand up – then it’s time to switch them to a big kid bed.

4. You’ve Started Potty Training

Potty training is anything but a breeze. But choosing the right bed can make it less of a hassle. Having a toddler bed or a twin-sized mattress allows your little one to be able to get up and go when they have to,  well, “go!” This can make middle-of-the-night bathroom trips much easier for you and your child. 

5. They Want a Big Kid Bed

Of course, don’t make the switch just because your kiddo says so. After all, we’re the adults here! But if your little one has verbalized that they want a bigger bed, this can be a great time to open up the discussion of big kid bed expectations. Use this as an opportunity to talk about what’s different with a bigger bed, why they think they’re ready and how the adjustment will look. 

6. They Understand Boundaries

The big kid bed discussion is also a great time to see if your little one understands boundaries – especially boundaries that aren’t physical. If your little one seems like they understand what places to avoid during the night and when they’re allowed to leave their bed, consider making the switch to a toddler or kid’s bed. 

Toddler sitting up in a double bed and stretchingToddler sitting up in a double bed and stretching

7. They’re Mature Enough

There are lots of distractions in kiddo’s rooms – like their favorite toys and games – that can be tempting at bedtime. Great signs of developmental maturity include if your kiddo can self-soothe to fall asleep, sleep through the night and follow house rules. If your child has had the big kid bed discussion, understands imaginary boundaries and you feel like they’re ready, it may be the perfect time to make the switch!

8. There’s Another Baby on the Way

A lot of parents decide to use their little one’s crib for a new baby on the way. After all, it’s more sustainable, cost-effective and useful for space. However, when a new baby is coming, make sure that your child knows they’re not being kicked out of their crib just because of their new sibling. Making a new space for them one to two months before your new baby arrives is a great way to make the crib to bed transition easier for your kiddo and your family. 

Safety First! Remember These Tips

Toddle lying back on a big kid bed with lost of pillows and smilingToddle lying back on a big kid bed with lost of pillows and smiling

When switching up your little one’s sleep space, remember that their safety is the most important priority of all – and what is safe for one child may not be safe for another! Every kiddo grows and matures at a different pace, so it’s important to avoid comparing your little one’s milestones to another child. 

If you’re planning on introducing a big kid bed, remember that kid-proofing is as beneficial as baby-proofing.They can get in and out of bed on their own now, after all, and sometimes throughout the night without supervision. Kid-proofing can mean:

  • Covering electrical sockets
  • Locking accessible windows and doors
  • Tying up loose drapes and cords
  • Securing heavy furniture to the wall
  • Creating physical boundaries with baby gates

Curiosity is natural and healthy for a toddler. As parents, it’s our job to create an environment where our little ones can explore, imagine and learn as safely as possible.

Creating a Non-Toxic Sleep Space Matters, Too

Big kid bed set up with Lullaby Earth non-toxic kids mattress and pillowBig kid bed set up with Lullaby Earth non-toxic kids mattress and pillow

We know that switching to a big kid bed can be scary. But the materials in your little one’s mattress definitely shouldn’t be! 

Because our kiddos are still growing, a non-toxic sleep space is essential to reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals that can impact their development. Lullaby Earth’s kids mattresses are made without toxic chemicals, flame retardants or harmful VOCs, so you can feel good about what your kiddo is sleeping on.

The Bottom Line: Be Patient!

It isn’t unusual for your kiddo to take some time to adjust to their new bed. Remember to be gentle with your child during this time. If they ask for extra cups of water throughout the night or try to sleep in your bed, remember that these are all signs that they’re still adjusting. Practicing patience, understanding and support will benefit your little one – and make this time easier on you, too.

Remember to have fun along the way, too. We know the crib to bed transition can be difficult, but it’s an important one to make. So enjoy the ride! 

Decided it’s time to make the transition but not sure where to start? Learn more about Lullaby Earth’s non-toxic sleep essentials for kids on the blog.

Think your kiddo is ready now? Shop the Lullaby Earth Dream Easy Kids Mattress and pillow!