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It’s a big step when baby is ready to transition out of their crib!

But when is the right time? And how can you make the transition as smooth as possible? Find out more!

When should baby transition out of the crib? Transitioning out of the crib is not a milestone, so there isn’t a specific age when this happens. The AAP recommends transitioning out of a crib when the crib railing is lower than baby’s chest. This is because baby can climb out of their crib on their own at this age. Typically, this happens between the ages of 2 and 3 and a half, but it just depends on what works best for your child.

If your child is asking for a big kid bed, or if they are finding a way to climb out of their crib, this may be a sign that it’s time to transition out of the crib! Before doing this, make sure:

  • The room baby sleeps in is baby-proofed. This includes anchoring furniture to the wall, using outlet protectors, and removing anything they may attempt to climb on during the night. It also means removing any small objects from the room that baby could possibly put in their mouth.
  • Place baby gates by all staircases so they can’t go up or down stairs. Don’t forget about areas where baby may not typically be, but could go! This includes rooms, hallways, and anywhere baby could have access to.
  • Think about if you want to keep them in their room overnight. If you have a curious toddler who may wander, consider a doorknob cover or a baby gate in the doorway to keep them in their room for the night.

What kind of a bed should you look for? There are several options. If baby is currently using a convertible crib, then this will turn into a toddler bed. If baby does not have a convertible crib, then one option is to use a toddler bed. These beds are smaller than a twin bed, made especially for toddlers. Usually the same mattress from the crib is used in these. You could also fully transition baby to a regular-sized  bed. Consider using safety rails for baby, especially if you’re using a regular-sized bed. For toddler beds and safety rails, look for JPMA certification for guaranteed safety.

It’s better if the bed is lower to the ground, or you can even put a mattress right on the floor. This is because children may climb or roll out of their bed, so the closer to the ground the better. When baby is first transitioning out of their crib, it is probably too early for a bunk bed, because a toddler may climb to the top bunk.

How can you make the transition as smooth as possible? Here are some tips!

  • Keep up your evening and bedtime routines. Consistency is key with helping your toddler maintain a bedtime routine with their newfound freedom out of the crib! Keep up the same nightly routines with bath, tooth brushing, stories, etc.
  • Make it clear to your child they need to stay in bed. If they leave their bed, bring them back to bed and ask them to stay there. You may need to do this several times over, for several nights in a row while your child is adjusting—and that’s ok! You can also reassure them by letting them know you will check in on them during the night.
  • Praise them if they successfully stay in bed all night.
  • Adjust video monitors so you can see them throughout their room if they get out of bed. Your child may be too young to tell time, but there are toddler alarm clocks that let them know when it is time to get out of bed in the morning. The clock will typically use a red color when it is bedtime and a green color when it is time to get out of bed.

Baby will be more open to their new bed if it is exciting for them! Try these ways to make bedtime and their new bed something to look forward to.

  • Put their favorite lovey or stuffed animal in the bed with them.
  • Let them pick out a blanket or new toy to bring to bed.
  • Add nightlights or a ceiling projector so the bed can feel less intimidating and cozier.
  • Have books nearby for a nighttime or morning story.
  • Tell them that this is what big kids do! Help them to feel proud of this big step.

Using a “big kid” bed is a big step forward for your little one and their development!

Want to learn more about baby’s development and track their milestones?

Download the FREE Pathways.org Baby Milestones App!

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