Moving Your Toddler from Crib to Bed

Toddler in a toddler bed with rails.

Moving your child from a crib to a bed is a big change. It's most important that you consider your child's safety. And, maintain a healthy sleep routine.

When to consider a bed

Toddlers will get too big for their crib. Most move to a bed by age 2. Here are some signs that they are ready for a bed:

  • The crib mattress is at its lowest setting and the height of the top rail is less than three-quarters of the child’s height.

  • They are able to pull themselves up and over the crib rail.

  • They can put their leg on or over the top rail, even if they haven’t yet climbed over.

  • They are 35 inches tall.

Bed safety

Here are some tips to keep your toddlers safe:

  • Make sure you can add guardrails to the bed to prevent falls. Fit the guardrails against the mattress and frame, so there are no gaps.

  • Don’t give your child a pillow before age 2. After age 2, start with a small, firm pillow.

  • Don’t place the bed under a window.

  • Don't use an upper bunk bed or other raised bed for children under age 6.

Sleep routines

Toddlers and preschoolers need 10 to 14 hours of sleep a day. To them used to sleeping in their own bed, try to continue with the same bedtime routine. Try these tips:

  • Set a specific time for bed.

  • About 30 minutes before, tell them it will soon be time to get ready for bed.

  • Watching TV and playing video games are not calming activities. Don’t allow TV and video games for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Don’t allow TV in the bedroom.

  • Help them unwind with a bath, singing quiet songs, or reading books. 

  • Make sure the bedroom is comfortable—neither too warm or too cold.

  • Use a nightlight or small lamp.

If they get out of bed, return them to bed immediately. Let them know that you’ll be back to check on them in a few minutes, but that it’s time to be quiet and go to sleep. You may need to do this several times for a few days. Try to be consistent. Be sure to give praise when your child stays in bed through the night. You might offer a small reward like an extra story at bedtime.  

Additional safety tips

Here are some other ideas to keep toddlers safe:

  • Make sure your child's bedroom is safe, now that he or she can get out of bed. 

  • Use a baby monitor or tie a bell on the door so you know if your child is out of bed. 

  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

  • Keep anything that might be dangerous out of reach. Think about medicines, makeup or cosmetics, cleaning products, small items that may be swallowed, and sharp kitchen items or tools.