How to Transition from Crib to Big Kid Bed

If you’re like I was around your kiddo’s 2/3 year-ish mark you’ve started scouring the internet for advice on when and how to transition your kiddo to a larger bed. Maybe they’ve started crawling (And falling) off the side. Maybe they’ve started transitioning from naps to quiet time and need a little more freedom. Maybe you need that crib for another baby on the way!

I remember starting this research half terrified half ecstatic. As I got into the thick of the process the terror took over… KIDDING. It will be fine. All will be fine. You may just have slightly less nighttime alone time during the transition so plan your timing wisely.

When to Say Bye to the Crib

There’s nothing that gets some moms going more than talking about SLEEP. Well in less you consider birthing options or the breastfeeding vs formula debate. But let’s be real we are all trying to navigate these unknown waters and hearing different opinions is important.

In my opinion, WAIT AS LONG AS YOU CAN — if you have the option. With both of my kids I felt like I should’ve waited longer. C was an excellent sleeper but I was itching for a change from the crib around 2.5 years. We started reading a few books to prep him. (I recommend Big Kid Bed is Coming or Elmo’s Big Kid Bed — although if you could find one with real characters and photos I would go that route. Maybe I should write my own?!)After that, we dove in quick. He had a few nights with his twin mattress on the ground before a frame arrived and then we put everything together. The first few nights were surprisingly wonderful. My husband and I sipped a drink at the end of the night and high fived each other. Week 2 and on was a different story.

G was a climber. She would climb out of her crib and perch herself on the corner looking for adventure. I knew it had to stop somehow and in typical second child fashion there was no bribery or stern talking to that would work. So around the same 2.5 mark we took her crib rails off and let her have more freedom. Same story, week 1 was awesome. Week 2 forward I started pulling my hair out.

How to Save your Sanity

Be prepared for wandering around the house at all hours OR whining/crying for you to come to the room at random points throughout the night. C never leaves his room. Ever. Great right? Well sure, in less you count the constant whines for something the hour after bedtime. Water! My lovey fell! I’m hungry! Potty! I might as well have given him a bell to ring.

So what worked for him?

Time to grow up a bit and a CD player.

Yes a cd player. I found a CD player with a sleep timer on it and he listens to a cd (he has a huge collection now) before he nods off. The kid loves music!

G was a different story. She was a wanderer. Constantly coming out to chit chat, ask for bandaids, wake up her brother, etc. I would turn off all the lights in the house and she would still find me asking , “Why’s it so dark in here?” I would hole up in the basement in my office and she would wake her brother up and make him escort her down.

What worked for her?

A bigger bed and a toddler desk with crafting supplies.

I moved Grace to a larger full bed and all of a sudden her mood changed. I could see her brain turning, “Hmmm, this is really comfy. I think I’ll stay.” Also, the addition of a crafting space with all the markers and papers to entertain her if she got up early was key. She doesn’t sleep as much as her brother and needed some quiet time options.

Different Bed Options

I’ll cut to the chase, the bigger the bed, the better. I have confirmed this with several moms who have very different opinions on just about everything. This remains true. Bigger beds just work out better. But let’s look at the different options.

Crib transitional bed

A lot of cribs let you pop out the rails on the front and allow for a little freedom while still having the “comfort” of a crib. This was a fail for G. I had to shove a pillow in the front so she didn’t fall out every night (Some cribs come with rails) and it became a box for hoarding her toys. She slept with her toy vacuum one night and literally every stuffie in the house most other nights.

Twin bed

This is the route we went with C. He also fell out of the bed so we invested in these foam bumpers for the sides because the idea of putting up rails made me think why didn’t we just keep the crib? Isn’t it just a bigger crib now? The bumpers are cozy and look better in my opinion but it really cuts into the space on the twin. I could squeeze in to read him a story but G would have to sit at the end of the bed and my husband has to kneel on the ground for story time. Not a win.

Full or Queen Bed

In my opinion, the real winner. It is COZY. Story time is 100x more enjoyable because we can all snuggle up together. And the risk of falling out of the bed is really not much of an issue even for G who flails around.

Floor Bed

Such a great option too! I love a good Montessori floor bed and if I had a woodworking husband to make one for cheap I would’ve gone this route. I don’t think this is a forever option but I feel like all toddlers/preschoolers would love it and also feel really comfortable and safe — which hopefully means a sounder sleep?!

You will survive

Cheers to you Mom or Dad! You thought sleep was as simple as making sure their tummy was full and you had them in the right sleep sack and BOOM, onto the next stage. Is this how all parenthood is? You get to an average level of mastery and then they shoot you forward to the next stage to be a struggling beginner again?

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hi tempe.
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