5 Tips for Transitioning Your Child to a Toddler Bed

As a mom of three children, I am often asked by various moms what I did in certain parenting situations or how I dealt with certain issues.  I surely don’t have all of the answers, but I do know without a doubt that the threes are more horrible than the twos, that potty training really sucks, and I also know that it goes by way too fast!

Today, I really wanted to share how I transitioned my kiddos from their crib to their big kid beds.  It is a big change for them, but with these tips, I hope and pray it might be a much easier transition for both of you.


If there is the only tip I can give you about this transition, this is it.  Start training your child early to ask permission to get out of their crib.  I started training mine when they were able to give non-verbal clues to ask to get out of the crib.  I would go to the side of the crib and say the phrase, “Up, please.”  I would wait for them to acknowledge with a nod or pointing their hands up or even with a swoosh across the chest for a sign language please.  As they got older and verbal, I would have them say the word, “Up” or “Up, please” when they wanted to get out of the bed.  I would not get them out until they asked, and I had given them permission.  This established a pattern and a routine that they always had to ask permission to get out of the bed.


It is easy to wish away parenting and be ready as a parent to move through a phase at lightening speed just to go on to the next one as quickly as possible, but if your child is content in their crib, why not leave them there for a little while?  I can guarantee they will not be in there forever, and they are at least safe in there.  I transitioned my girls between the ages of 2 and 3.  My son, unfortunately for me, tried to climb out of his crib constantly around 11 to 12 months, and I had to transition him to a toddler bed for his safety sooner than I ever would have liked.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that!  I would also recommend not doing it at the same time as any other major transitions in your life.  If you are potty training, moving, or expecting another baby, do it a month or two before or after any of these big life transitions.  Is your child asking for a toddler bed or excited for one?  Do they want to be a big kid?  Are they impulsive or calm and obedient?  These are all questions to ask when trying to decide when the right time to make this transition should be.


My main anxiety about transitioning my children to a big bed is the fact that they might get up in the middle of the night and roam around the house, unlock the front door and walk around the neighborhood, or get up on the counter in the kitchen and get the kitchen knives.  Could happen, right?  Calm your concerns by making sure their room is baby-proofed.  All of the furniture should be secured to the walls so it won’t fall on your child, make sure the plugs have safety plugs, and cords on the blinds are up and out of the way.  At this age, I would always put up our wooden baby gate on the outside of the door jam to their room.  I would put them in the bed with their bed guard rail in place, close the door to their room, and put the baby gate up on the outside part of the door jam.  That way, even if they got up and opened their room door, they would be confined to the room by the baby gate.  It helped this mommy to sleep easier.  Also, you still should have the baby monitor set up to hear if they get up in the night anyway.  


Oh, those security items!  You know what security items I am talking about, don’t you?  The stinky blanket which has grown to be the extra appendage of your child’s anatomy.  The one-eyed bear who got into a skirmish with your new puppy, but your child thinks it is the most beautiful bear they have ever seen.  When transitioning to a big kid bed, sometimes the bedding will be different, the pillows, and the smells might be different too.  The more “normal” you can make the transition the better so the child will not be afraid of the change.  Try to put the bed in the same place as the crib.  Make sure all of their favorite pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals are all there waiting for them.  Keep the bed time routine the same.  Anything that you could think of that would make your tot more secure would be a great thing.

This is where training your child to ask permission to get out of bed comes into play.  Whether they are in a crib or in a big kid bed, it doesn’t change the fact that they need to ask permission to get out of bed.  When you tuck them in for the first time in their big kid bed, tell them they can’t get out of the bed without Mommy or Daddy’s permission.  In the morning when you hear them stirring on the baby monitor, go into their room and use the same pattern and language that you used when your tot was in the crib.  “Do you want to get up?”  When your child say, “Yes, Mom” or “Up, please” you can swoosh them right out of the bed.  It worked really, really well for me.  All of my kids tested this new boundary only a few times each (some more than others), but being consistent was the key.  If they did get out of the bed without permission, I would correct the behavior and put them right back in.  Later on, when the child is more mature, you can drop them having to ask permission to get out of bed, but it a great technique for keeping those little tots safe.
Every family has their own way of doing things, but I hope this tip might help some mom who is out there going through this transitional time in their toddler’s life.  Mommying is not easy, but it is the best job I have every had.  God bless you on your journey! 
Blessings, Andrea
Copyright 2017
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” 
Hebrews 12:11, NIV