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Steps for Transitioning Your Toddler From Crib to Big-Kid Bed

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Felix turned three this week and after giving up his dummy a couple of months ago and starting potty training earlier this month, we think we are ready for the next transition – moving from crib to big-kid bed. 

We’ve already gone through this process with Dexter back in 2018, but that feels like a hundred years ago, so I’ve been having to trawl through some of my old blogs and social media to remember exactly how we did it. 

And of course, every child is different, so what works for one may not work for another, but as we go into 2022, here are the steps we will be taking for transitioning our three year old toddler from his much-loved crib to a brand new big-kid bed!

Steps for transitioning your toddler from crib to big-kid bed

When it comes to transitioning from a crib to a big-kid bed, there are few steps you need to take:

  1. Take the sides off the crib
  2. Let your toddler choose their new bed
  3. Pick a comfy mattress
  4. Talk about the transition on the run up to the event
  5. Support your toddler through the first few nights

Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Felix's Bedroom - grey and aqua mountains painted on the wall behind a white cot

Take the sides off the crib

One way to transition your toddler from their crib to a bed is my taking the small step of taking the crib’s sides off.

This will be a brand new sensation for your toddler and you may find that they fall out quite a bit as they get used to no longer being caged in a crib(!) 

What I found surprising when we did this with Dexter is that prior to taking the sides off, he’d sleep in all sorts of weird and wonderful positions inside the cot, but as soon as the sides were taken off, he slept in what we would consider a ‘normal’ position!

Once you’ve taken the sides off, don’t be surprised if your toddler doesn’t automatically get out of bed to come and find you each morning. We found that even with his new found freedom, Dexter would still shout for us every time he woke in the mornings – so much for a lie-in!

Let your toddler choose their new bed

I always think it’s a good idea to get your child involved in as many decisions that affect them as possible. One reason why I think Felix hasn’t gone through the terrible twos quite as badly as Dexter did is we found that letting him have as much control as reasonably possible helps to stop him lashing out in frustration.

Letting your toddler choose their own bed gives them a bit of control over a scary situation and instead of them being fearful of the new sensation of sleeping in a bed, they can look forward to the new and exciting adventure that they themselves chose!

Nautical themed toddler bedroom showing a toddler bed shaped like a boat and a bedisde table with a lumie nightlight on it

Pick a comfy mattress

We spend half our lives in bed so picking a comfortable mattress is extremely important. In order for you to get as much sleep as possible, I really advise you to get a lovely comfortable mattress that your child will love sleeping on. A Nolah mattress for example is one of the best children’s’ mattresses. They’re organic, super comfortable, free from harmful chemicals and come with a 10-year guarantee!

Talk about the transition on the run up to the event

I am all about communication and this tactic has worked well with both my kids during all the big transitions, including moving house, potty training, giving up the dummy and moving to a big-kid bed.

Talk about the changes that are coming and how much fun it will be. The more you talk about it, the more prepared your toddler will be when the time comes – and that’s no bad thing!

Support your toddler through the first few nights

It comes without saying that the first few nights might be tough for your little one. Don’t leave them to cry or lock them in their rooms, it’ll only confuse and distress them. If they need support to go to sleep by lying next to them or by getting up and down a few times, embrace it. It won’t last forever and by supporting them, you’ll build their confidence and trust. 

Nicola lying on bed holding Felix close

Are you ready for the transition?

I hope this article has helped you assess what steps are needed to help your toddler transition from crib to big-kid bed. However you decide to tackle this huge milestone, I wish you all the best! Before long they’ll be starting school and learning to read…all of these milestones are so, so special! Enjoy them!

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