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Tips on Transitioning to a Big Kid Bed

Rachel Cedar, of You Plus 2 Parenting & Beyond the Basics, is sharing this guest post with us all today with five tips on the all-important transition of crib to bed. Thank you, Rachel!


It’s an inevitable milestone that all toddlers must master—the transition from the crib to the big kid bed. While it’s an exciting declaration of growing independence for your little one, the thought of “unleashing” him and giving him the opportunity to move freely in and out of bed is enough to send most parents into a panic and for good reason. Teaching your toddler to stay in bed can be a lengthy, stressful experience, which can lead to power struggles and desperate negotiations to convince your child to stay in bed. With a little preparation and consistent messaging however, it may end up going more smoothly than you anticipate. Read on for five tips to set you and your child up for success.

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1. Don’t rush it! While this is an exciting event, there is no need to accomplish it early. Staying in bed is truly about impulse control, and most toddlers have not learned to master their impulses until they are at least three years old. Of course, some children will be able to do it earlier, but the transition will most likely take longer and be much more frustrating if your child is younger than three.

2. Delay if there are other big life events happening! This transition can feel overwhelming to you and your child, so if there are other big changes happening in your household at the same time, like the arrival of a new baby, potty training, starting school or recent travel, hold off on the move and give your child time to get through one big change before attempting another.

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3. Include your child in the planning! Toddlers have an opinion about everything; they want to be heard and to feel like they have a say in some of the decisions. Pick out two sets of sheets or two different beds that you like and can live with, and then let your child make the final decision. Ask her where she thinks her bed should go when setting up the room or let her choose from two different new nightlights. Letting her having choices in the overall set-up will help her feel more in control and ready for the big change when the time comes.

4. Purchase necessary tools for success! You will definitely want to have a bed rail (we like the extra tall and long ones) and a sleep clock like “The Good Nite Lite,” which indicate sleep and wake hours. These tools give your child another cue to refer to and depend on, which will help her resist her impulses and stay in bed.

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5. Don’t say “Don’t…!”  When the time comes for the big move, tell your child what you expect him to do and how you expect him to behave…not all the things he isn’t supposed to do. The minute you say, “Don’t get out of bed!” your child will be thinking about getting out of bed. Instead try saying, “We stay in our bed all night long. Lay your body down, and show Mommy how you sleep in your new bed.” All children ultimately want to please their parents, so staying positive and focused on the desired behavior lets her know what she needs to do for success.

Please visit our site for a more detailed and in-depth guide to moving to the big kid bed.

Ross Neytiri

Wednesday 6th of March 2013

Thanks for these tips! I'm about to transition my little boy to a bigger bed.

lisacng @

Wednesday 27th of February 2013

We've had a great experience transitioning our son to a toddler bed. He only fell out once or twice. He gets out of bed at least once a night a few times a week, but I'm sure if he didn't have a bed, he'd still wake up and cry from his crib. Now I just want advice for buying a bigger bed. The crib-to-bed size is getting small. And we don't want a full or twin...

Kimmy Doraine

Tuesday 26th of February 2013

I really feel lucky that I had such an easy time transitioning my kids to the big kid bed. The same way I never had problems with weaning and potty training. Makes me think I must have been such a good girl to my mom when I was little.

Shai Virtuso

Thursday 28th of February 2013

Really Kimmy? Wow, how did you get so lucky. Potty training was a truly difficult thing for me and my kids.