The "DO"s & "Don't"s of Transitioning to a Big Kid Bed

Transitioning to a big kid bed can be an exciting and slightly scary time for parents and kids alike. It can signal the end of the baby era for parents or new developmental milestones for the child, like climbing out of the crib. 😱  But it can also signal the beginning of a whole new set of sleep problems. What can you do to minimize this common issue and have a successful transition? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind.

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DO talk a lot about the transition with your toddler before it happens.  Establish your expectations for this new era of bedtime and nighttime. How will their bedtime routine change? Is he allowed to get out of bed at will? Should she call you if she needs something or come get you in your room? Talk about different scenarios at an age-appropriate level before it happens. This is new territory- don’t expect them to know how it all works.

DON’T transition too early. Many parents transition around age 2 because a new baby is coming, but most 2 year olds really aren’t developmentally ready to understand the rules and expectations mentioned above. Wait until as close to 3 as possible! If you're transitioning because you need the crib for a new baby, just borrow a pack’n’play for the new baby or buy a new crib for the toddler - they're less than $100 on Amazon.  It’s worth it to not have to deal with a newborn AND toddler up all night! The toddler will be going through enough change with the new addition to the family. It’s also why I recommend introducing sleep sacks and safety sleeps early- it helps delay them climbing out for a little longer.

Just buy a new crib. It’s worth it to not have to deal with a newborn AND toddler up all night!

DO use sleep sacks. They can help delay a transition happening because of the child climbing out of the crib. Sleep sacks, or wearable blankets, can be introduced in the baby stage, but later is fine too, and they can help delay a toddler’s ability to climb out of the crib. If your toddler is starting to figure out how to take their sleep sack off, put a t-shirt on over the sleep sack, or put the sleep sack on inside out. :)

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DON’T do things the first few nights that you don't want to continue. Meaning, don't start off the first night doing things that you don't want to continue. Unless you want to start laying with your child for an hour at bedtime each night, don’t do it the first night. Go over the planned routine and expectations before the first night and stick with your plan, with maybe just a few extra cuddles thrown in. 😉

DO motivate with a sticker chart! Even some 2-2.5 year olds can understand this concept and be motivated by a sticker. A sticker chart can be used to correct a bad habit of getting up all night, but why not start one right in the beginning to create good habits from the get-go?

Did you already transition and are now dealing with a toddler who won't stay in bed or needs you to lay with them for hours? 2 year olds in big kid beds are my specialty.  Email me at or set up your free 15 minute consultation here.

How have your crib-to-bed transitions gone?