Ask the Mamas: Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

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Mama Say What?! reader Sami R. asks: How did you transition your little one from a crib to a toddler bed?

Check out the first two parts of our Toddler Bed Readiness Series here:

Toddler Bed Readiness and Crib to Bed Tips

A few months after our son’s 2nd birthday, he was almost climbing out of his crib so we started talking about big boy bed options. We discussed a toddler bed but quickly nixed the idea knowing he would quickly outgrow it. We already had a twin bed in our guest bedroom, so that bed became his big boy bed. Because our son moved a ton when he slept, we decided to simply put the mattress onto the floor instead of deal with bed rails. Knowing our son, he’d still manage to fall out of bed even with rails.
I took him shopping and let him pick out the sheets for his bed. I also made a quilted duvet cover and he helped me choose a couple of the fabrics for it. He also decided which stuffed animals were going to sleep with him. 
He transitioned to his big boy bed with ease and we had very few issues. We did buy a safety gate and placed it at the top of the stairs to prevent our son from wandering around at night, but other than that, he did really well. ~Alex T.

My son hated the crib from day one and nothing we did seemed to get him used to it. We switched to a full sized mattress on the floor very early on because the crib wasn’t being used so I saw no reason to keep it. It turned out he loved sleeping on the full-sized bed. I think it was the confines of the crib that had been so upsetting to him. For us it wasn’t much of a transition, since the crib never worked for us from the start! ~Lauren W.

N hated the crib. The only time he would sleep in it was if you put him in when he was dead asleep. Otherwise it was a rinse and repeat kinda thing… all.night.long. A friend had told me that she moved all of her kids to big kid beds at 18 months. Of course, when she told me this, N was all of 6ish months and I thought she was nuts. Fast forward to around 18 months and I was itching to try something different since the crib just wasn’t working. It took us a few months to agree on what to get, but we finally did at 22 months and switched to a full-sized bed with a low-profile box spring. I wanted the full so I could lay with N too, and encourage him to sleep in his bed instead of ours. Once it was all decided, we went shopping for mattresses with N in tow. He had a great time checking them all out and helping to make the decision of which one to get. He also got to help pick out his bedding and which animals would sleep with him (although this changes often). Around this time we also got him his Kinderglo nightlight to keep in bed with him. To keep him from falling off, we just put a pillow next to him. The pillow worked out well because he moves around so much at night that sometimes he ends up with his head on that pillow. The transition went really well for us. I still laid with him every night until he fell asleep (this lasted until almost 30 months of age), but he started sleeping through the night once he was in his big bed. Now at three and a half years old, he falls asleep in bed by himself and usually sleeps through the night. I still wish we had done the transition sooner! ~Cari H.

My parents made a small bed frame for the crib mattress. It was basically a piece of plywood with little 4-inch legs on it. The legs folded inside the edges of the frame for storage. It was only 4 inches off the floor, so falling out of bed wasn’t dangerous. My mom made a little dust ruffle and a matching quilt and a pillowcase. It was just a simple, handmade bed the size of a crib. It worked. All my kids used this little bed to transition from the crib to a bed. ~Sue F.

We are still in the process of transitioning to an actual toddler bed. We took the front rail off of his crib a couple weeks ago and attached one of those little half gates so he doesn’t roll out. We figured we couldn’t expect him to get rid of his pull-ups at night if he couldn’t get up to go potty by himself. It was actually an easy transition for us since he had to start taking naps on a big bed at daycare due to smaller kids using the cribs. So we just got him really excited one week and asked if he wanted his own ‘big boy bed’. Of course he was thrilled! So we went to the store and got a gate and Daddy made his crib into a ‘big boy bed’. He wanted to climb in it and go to bed right then and there - no story time or anything! Haha. I was actually surprised to find his pull-up laying in the bathroom that first morning… meaning he got up and went potty by himself and got back in his bed, which is good news for us. No more yelling to us at 5am that he has to go potty. He still yells for us when he wakes up, forgetting that he can get out without us. And a couple nights he wandered into our room at 11pm wondering if it was time to ‘play’ yet. But for the most part, it has been really easy and we will probably just turn it into an actual bed pretty soon. ~Heidi C.

About a month before our second son was born, we set up a new crib in his new nursery. Naturally, my 2 year old decided that he would choose that very weekend to start climbing out of his crib, therefore forcing us to transition him to a toddler bed. We borrowed a crib rail from a friend and my husband took the side of the crib off. The transition was incredibly easy, in that B didn’t care in the least that he wasn’t in his crib anymore and LOVED the freedom that having a “real” bed gave him. Sadly, that also meant the end of his awesome and consistent 3 hour naps. Since he could easily climb in and out of his crib, he DID. And often! Nap time was just “quiet time” most days with an earlier bedtime. Since he loved getting out of his bed and wandering around the room, he often took a lot longer to fall asleep and started sleeping in very strange places. I often think I need to make a photo book of all of the places that he’s slept. Some include: on the changing pad, under his bed, in the rocking chair, in the doorway and in a laundry basket. ~Mary Ellen M.

My daughter was young, only 15 months, when we switched her from a crib to a bed. We were having all kinds of issues with her going down to sleep without a fight, so we thought Christmas was a good opportunity for Santa to bring her a toddler bed. We set it up in her room and talked all about how it was a big girl bed. She was super proud to lay in it. We also let her pick out her own comforter set- she chose flowers and butterflies, I think that helped her get excited about it. Transitioning didn’t solve her sleep problems, but it was a huge turning point for us and it helped a LOT. ~Cassie W.

We transitioned our son at 25 months. I wanted him out of his crib and in his big boy bed before our daughter was expected to arrive. The first night we hyped it up big time, talked about it a lot and let him know what a big boy he was to be getting to sleep in this big big bed. He was really excited. I was nervous but it went without a hitch. We put him in his bed like we would every night, stuck to his normal bedtime routine and after about an hour he was out. Never tried to climb out of his bed, never acted any different than he did in his crib. I think because of the side rail we had attached, he felt like he was kind of still in his crib maybe. Even after taking the side rail down about 3-4 months after the transition, he still never climbed out of his bed, he would wait for us to come and get him in the morning. Just now at almost 3 he is starting to get brave and will get out of his bed and play with things in his room when he’s supposed to be sleeping, but for the most part it was a super easy change for him. ~Melissa T.

By Michelle W.

Michelle W. is a first time mama to Elizabeth, born in December 2012. She is the wife of a Marine, loves to sew, read, work out, and loves being a home manager (house wife). Her weaknesses are staying on a budget, almond sparkling wine, and Instagram. She tries to be the best wife and mommy possible, and believes there are no bad days, only bad moments.

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One Response to Ask the Mamas: Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

  1. We just found out we are expecting #2, so now we are searching for tips to transition our 21 month old before the baby comes. Timely article!

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