Every parent eventually faces the decision of when to take their growing toddler out of the crib and let him start sleeping in a toddler or full size bed. Some toddlers take to the idea of a “big boy” or “big girl” bed right away’; others may need to warm up to the idea a bit before they’re ready to sleep comfortably in the new bed. There is no set age to make the transition, though most parents make the move somewhere between 1 ½ and 3 ½ years old. So how do you know when is the right time for your little one to start using a toddler bed?

  • When your child is trying to climb out of the crib and making some progress. When you first notice your toddler trying to climb out of the crib, remove all bumpers and anything else that could be used as a stepping stool to get out of the crib and lower the mattress to its lowest level if you haven’t already done so.
  • When your child reaches 3’ tall. If your toddler is 36 inches or taller, she can and will climb out soon even if she hasn’t been trying to do so yet.
  • When your toddler is potty trained. You will likely want her to be able to get to the bathroom by herself.
  • When your instincts say that it’s time. You know your child better than anyone.
  • When you decide it’s time to switch, you’re probably right. Just don’t get discouraged if your little one doesn’t concur right away.

Additionally, here are some common times when many parents decide to make the transition.

  • Your child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday. Birthdays are exciting times, and a new bed makes a great gift. Be prepared, though, to deal with some anxiety. Your toddler might love the gift but still not want to sleep in it.
  • When another baby is on the way. If you move your toddler during this time, place his new bed in the same spot his crib was, and start making the switch at least 2 months before the new baby arrives to lessen the conflict of the new baby taking over places and things that the toddler considers his.
  • Alternately, you may want to wait until after a new baby arrives. If you do so, wait until the new baby is 2-3 months old before switching the toddler over, and play up the idea that she is the “big sister”.