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Your Toddler: Moving from Crib to Bed

Moving your child from a crib to a bed is a big change. It is most important that you consider your child's safety. And, maintain a healthy sleep routine.

When to consider a bed

Your child will get too big for his or her crib. Most toddlers move to a bed by age 2. Here are some signs that he or she is ready for a bed:

  • You have the crib mattress at its lowest setting and the height of the top rail is less than three-quarters of your child’s height.

  • Your child is able to pull himself or herself up and over the crib rail.

  • Your child is able to put his or her leg on or over the top rail, even if your child hasn’t yet climbed over.

  • Your child is 35 inches tall.

Bed safety

Here are some tips to keep your child safe:

  • Make sure you can add guardrails to the bed to prevent falls. Fit the guardrails against the mattress and frame, so that there are no gaps.

  • Don’t give your child a pillow before age 2. After age 2, start with a small, firm pillow.

  • Don’t place the bed under a window.

  • Don't use an upper bunk bed or other raised bed for children under age 6.

Sleep routines

Toddlers and preschoolers need 10 hours to 12 hours of sleep a day:

  • To get your child used to sleeping in his or her own bed, try to continue with the same bedtime routine.

  • Set a specific time for bed.

  • About 30 minutes before, tell your child it will soon be time to get ready for bed.

  • Watching TV and playing video games are not calming activities. Don't allow TV and video games for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Don’t allow a TV in the bedroom.

  • Instead of TV or video games, try a bath, singing quiet songs, or reading books. 

  • Make sure the bedroom is comfortable — neither too warm or too cold.

  • Use a nightlight or small lamp.

If your child gets out of bed, return him or her to bed immediately. Let your child know that you’ll be back to check on him or her in a few minutes, but that it’s time to be quiet and go to sleep. You may need to do this several times for a few days. Try to be consistent. When your child stays in bed through the night, be sure to praise him or her for doing so. You might offer a small reward like an extra story at bedtime.  

Additional safety tips

Here are some other ideas to keep your child safe:

  • Make sure your child's bedroom is safe, now that he or she can get out of bed. 

  • Use a baby monitor or tie a bell on the door so you know if your child is out of bed. 

  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

  • And, of course, keep anything that might be dangerous out of reach at night, as well as during the day. Think about medicines, makeup or cosmetics, cleaning products, small items that may be swallowed, and sharp kitchen items or tools.  

Medical Reviewers:

  • Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.