I’ve noticed on a few of the forums I follow that the whole “when should my toddler transition to a “big-kid” bed?” question comes up a lot among parents with children my daughter’s age. Some parents already have their 18 month old toddlers in “big-kid” beds, while others are more like me with no plans to make the move any time soon. Every parent has their opinion on the subject and often times family circumstances, like the impending arrival of a new addition, make the transition necessary. So what is the right age?
I wondered what the experts had to say on the topic so I did a little research. Turns out that just like with almost everything else in parenting there is a wide range of suggestions regarding the appropriate age and how to make the transition a smooth one.
What is the right age?
- The recommended age range is 18 months to about 3 ½ years. Of course, it comes down to when you feel your child is ready. A lot of experts suggested that waiting until your child was closer to 3 years old tends to be better.
- Determining the right age for your child will depend on if they are potty trained and need to be able to get to the bathroom at night, if they are extremely active and can get out of their crib on their own, or are too big for their crib. Also, consider the safety of having your child able to wander around while everyone else in the house is sleeping.
- Transitioning to a toddler bed too early can often result in sleep issues. Most younger toddlers are just not developmentally ready to be in a “big-kid” bed.
Making a Smooth Transition:
- Get your child excited about the transition. It may be a bit traumatic for them at first so getting them excited about moving to a “big-kid” will help with the transition.
- Be sure to install side rails on their bed whether using a toddler bed or a twin bed. Your child is used to being able to move around without risk of falling out of bed so having the rails in place will help prevent falls out of bed.
- As your child is making the transition make sure they have something from their old bed, like a familiar blanket or stuffed animal. This will be especially necessary if they are moving to a twin bed and will have all new bedding.
- If you are transitioning your toddler to a “big-kid” bed because of the impending arrival of a new baby, be sure to make the transition well in advance of the new baby’s arrival. Most experts recommend at least 8 weeks before so your child has time to get use to the new bed before another big change in their life.
- Expect some sleep disturbances in the first few days and have a plan to deal with them.
Deciding when it is time to make the big move is an individual parenting decision. You’ll know when your child is ready. If you aren’t sure if your child is developmentally ready get some advice from other parents or your child’s pediatrician.
My daughter will be 18 months old later this week. She still sleeps great in her crib and we have no plans on making the big move anytime soon. We’ll wait until we think she is ready, I’m guessing it’ll be at least another year.
Have you transitioned your toddler to a “big-kid” bed? How did the move go? What tips and tricks can you share with those of us who have not yet made the big move?