When to Transition to Toddler Bed for Your Child

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Parents transition their babies from the crib to a toddler bed between 18 months and three and a half years of age. Parents usually wait for signs that their child is ready before transitioning.

Some parents move a child from a crib to a toddler bed based on necessity, such as the impending arrival of another child. Others wait to see signs that their child is ready for a transition, such as when he or she continually climbs out of the crib or after successfully learning toilet training. Children may also tell their parents directly that they want to move from the crib to the toddler bed, which is the best way to know that it's time for a move.

Signs That the Child is Ready for the Transition
Although parents can move their child to a toddler bed closer to the 18-month mark, experts recommend waiting until he or she is closer to the age of three, if possible. Parents may be tempted to move their child out of a crib the first time that he or she crawls out but experts also say that parents should wait to see if the child repeats the action before making the transition. This is particularly true of children on the younger side of the age range, who may encounter safety problems when they are running around at night or early in the morning without supervision. Instead, parents are advised to put the crib mattress as low as possible, which raises the side rails of the crib and makes it harder for the toddler to escape.

Accommodating a Second Child
Sometimes, parents need to free up room in the crib to make way for another child. If this is the case, parents should leave ample time - about six to eight weeks before the next baby's arrival - to make the transition. However, they should only do so if the child is also ready to move. First-born children sometimes have difficulty adjusting emotionally to the arrival of a younger sibling, who they might view as stealing their parents' attention and robbing them of their crib. If parents see that the child is jealous or possessive of his or her crib, they can keep the first-born child in the crib for three or four months and put the new infant in a bassinet by the bed. This lets the older child stay in the crib until he or she is ready to move, and it can give him or her more time to adjust to the second sibling's arrival. If putting the infant in a bassinet is not an option, parents are better off getting a second crib than forcing the first child out before the right time.

Reactions to the Transition
While some children welcome the transition to the toddler bed, others might have problems adjusting. Children may associate the crib with the safety and comfort of their parents' protection, and they may hesitate to part with the sense of security and familiarity that moving to a larger bed brings. They might also see moving to the toddler bed as another step toward growing up, which causes them to resist the change emotionally. Other children, particularly younger siblings, welcome the transition to the toddler bed. They view it as a sign that they are growing up and becoming less dependent on their parents, which gives them a sense of freedom and independence.