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When Should I Move My Baby to a Toddler Bed?

I am a mother of a toddler, and I have lived in the U.K. for the last 20 years.

The Transition From Crib to Bed

In this article, I wanted to answer some questions a lot of mommies have when their toddlers start climbing out of their cots (cribs): At what age do I take the sides of the cot off? I will also teach you some tips on how to deal with problems that may arise. So let's get to business!

(In the UK, we call them cots; in the US and Canada, most people call them cribs).

When Should I Take the Side off the Crib?

The age your toddler is able to climb out of the crib is roughly around 18–24 months. This will, of course, be different for each child. Monitor your child's behavior, and if you think they are attempting and are likely to be able to climb out, then you know it is time to change to a toddler's bed or take the sides off.

You don't have to wait until they have actually done it, but at the same time, you should not assume they will do it if they've never tried! You might also start preparing for a transition if your child is now too big for the crib.

Keep Them in the Crib as Long as Possible

Basically, you want to keep them in the cot for as long as possible and as long as they are happy. This keeps them contained and saves you a lot of time and effort. If you are still not sure, it is always better to err on the side of caution and just leave a mattress or a pillow next to the bed while you make new arrangements.

If you remove the sides of the crib too early, your child might get confused and their sleep will be disrupted. I have seen it happen before, and the children just keep wandering around unable to soothe themselves.

When they are around 20 months, they might start doing it, and that is when you can start thinking of the transition. It will depend on the number of rooms you have and the type of cot. If you have a cot bed with removable sides, then things will be easy. A lot of beds are now suitable for a wide range of ages, so check a few before you buy a new toddler bed or single bed.

Can I Just Remove One Side If I Have a Normal Crib?

If your cot is not designed to have a side removed, then I would not advise you to do it. Some people still do—and in fact a lot of the new cots prove to be sturdy and stable—but it is not something I would suggest.

After removing one side, things will change. If your toddler sleeps in the same room with you, he will be wanting to sleep in your bed. If he or she has a separate room, they will start wanting to get out of the door and making a fuss.

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For the former situation, some parents find it useful to just move the cot next to the bed. However, I can't see the feasibility of this unless the cot is specifically designed for this purpose. The heights are probably not going to match, and there is likely to be a gap between the mattresses.

So, what now? What to do after removing the side(s)?

Our daughter's crib.

Our daughter's crib.

Moving From Crib to Bed: Common Problems and Solutions

  • The first thing is to get yourself a bed rail or guard. Children tend to roll over a lot before and during sleep. Please check the measures as they are different for each type.
  • If you can shut the door, then that is great. Otherwise, a safety gate might be a good idea. This is especially important if their room is upstairs to prevent them from going near the stair while they are sleepy. It is also important to keep the boundary.
  • "My child now leaves the cot as soon as she's put to sleep! Help!" We have been there, and so have a lot of parents as well. You removed the cot bed side, and now they are banging on the door and crying their lungs out. Sometimes, you have to go there, and there is just no way to console them! It is a big change for kids and the same sleep training rules apply to sleeping in general.

Tips for Making the Change Easier

  • You will need to prepare them for the change days in advance. Make it something they look forward to and try to get them excited about "moving to a big boy's/girl's bed". Even if you do, they might still struggle. Another tip is to allow them some choice like picking up the new bedding.
  • Be consistent: Every time you attend to them, put them back in their new bed, no playing or interacting. You will do it as many times as possible until they get the message.
  • Allow them to keep a couple of their favorite toys, a blanket, books or teddies.

Do What Suits Your Child Best

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. These are my tips from my research and personal experience. In the end, you should do what you think better suits your child, so please don't be frustrated if you can't follow all of the advice you read online.

Please share your experience with us in the comments section below and also if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write them.


Busy Mother (author) on August 01, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Liz. Yes, I know people who have been in this situation before and it can be quiet challenging if your toddler don't cope with change very well.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 01, 2019:

You give some helpful advice. Often the transition can be further complicated by the arrival of a younger sibling. It can be a juggle coping with a small baby and a toddler moving into their own bed, but at least it frees the cot up for the future use of the baby.

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