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When to Transition to a Toddler Bed?


This is a common question for parents, and it often comes when their little one climbs over the side of the crib. Parents are concerned about possible injury. So should we transition to prevent him/her from getting hurt? Usually, transitioning is parents' first attempt at a solution, but transitioning a child too early to a toddler bed can lead to the child coming to the parents' bed and eventually co-sleeping.


The recommendation is to wait until 3 years of age to transition. This age allows parents to speak to children about staying in their new bed all night. Before 3 years old, parents can do a few things to prevent climbing over the crib's rail:

  • Lower the crib mattress to the lowest setting.

  • Remove anything in the crib that allows the child to use as leverage to get over the crib rail (stuffed animals, toys, bumper)

  • Place a video monitor to watch for your little one or watch outside the bedroom door. When your child attempts to climb and stop him before it occurs. Use a stern "no." If he does climb over, place him back in the crib with limited interaction.

When to and how to transition?

  • Do not transition during a significant life event such as a new baby or moving.

  • Transitioning can occur gradually or "cold turkey." You can transition slowly by allowing your child to take naps in a toddler bed, but let night sleep to happen in the crib.

  • Set rules. Speaking to your child about what you expect of him/her.

  • Safety proof room. Your child may wonder in the middle of the night. Prevent injuries by bolting furniture to the wall, placing a gate at the door, and covering outlets.

  • Use an "okay to wake" clock. This clock tells a toddler that it is okay to get out of bed by changing colors.

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