When To Transition To Toddler Bed

When To Transition To Toddler Bed

For moms, I think there should be a new contest. And the contest should be on who can keep their toddler in the crib the longest. I see way too many people moving toddlers to big girl, or boy beds way too soon. And under such circumstances, what normally happens is they make the transition because a new baby is on the way, right? So you’ve got a two-year-old, you’re expecting a new baby in a few months and you think, let’s get the toddler ready and used to being in her bed before the baby arrives, right? Well, if that’s what you’ve been doing, that’s absolutely the wrong way to do it. But not to worry because today, we are going to look at the right time to transition to toddler, and how to keep them there.

When’s The Perfect Time to Transition?

The Perfect Time to Transition

When it comes to child care, you really want to hang on to that crib for as long as possible. But if you’re really in need of the crib, wait at least three months until the dust settles a little bit around the new baby arriving. This is because, toddlers regress in two ways, when a new baby arrives. One, while sleeping and two, during potty training. So you want to kind of try and minimize any form of upset that you can think of beforehand. In other words, keep that toddler in her crib. If she’s happy there, then leave her there as long as you possibly can. Once she’s used to the new baby, then you can make the transition to the bed.

Why Do People Mistime a Toddler’s Transition?

Why Do People Mistime a Toddler's Transition?

The only reason, or perhaps the major reason why people tend to move a toddler prematurely is when they are faced with a baby that often attempts to jump out of the crib in a dangerous way. Now, some toddlers are pretty skilled at getting out of the crib, and if that’s the kind of baby you have, then it’s not that big of a deal. However, if your toddler is just ignorantly trying to climb out without any knowledge of the awaiting danger, then obviously that’s a safety concern and you can go ahead and make the switch.

In general, I find that two and a half and up, that is, three years old toddlers should be the minimum age for you when planning to transition. It’s really not a beautiful sight to behold when toddlers are moved before the age of three because, they’re just not cognitively ready for that kind of responsibility and they just cannot resist the urge of getting out of that bed. Put differently, you are putting the baby at risk if you transition them before they get to be three years of age. Another thing you need to understand is that exploring the house and playing games in their room, is just going to make matters worse. It only increases the baby’s urge of wanting to climb out of the bed.

Now, a lot of people think that they’re going to solve a sleep problem that’s currently happening to a toddler by moving to a bed, right? Your child’s not happy in the crib. She’s not sleeping well in the crib and you’re thinking, okay, let’s move her to a big girl bed. Maybe that’ll help. Maybe that’ll get her so excited about sleep that she’ll just solve all these problems and sleep through the night. I hate to burst your bubble, but I can tell you that, that is not going to happen. If she has already got some sleep struggles in the crib, moving the toddler to bed is just going to make matters worse. So, do not do it. Instead, work on trying to solve the issues with the child while still in the crib. Once she’s doing well and has about a month or so under a belt of sleeping well in her crib, then you can move and start the transition to the bed.

Another thing you should know is that when toddlers are transitioned, even if you’ve waited, let’s say you’ve got an almost three year old and you’re finally ready to make that transition and you get the child involved and everything’s going great; there will be a bit of a honeymoon period around the bed were the child will do really well for the first couple of weeks, but then, the novelty will wear off, and the child will start to realize hey, I can get out of this thing and I could go see what people are doing or I could go start playing with my toys in my room and that’s when trouble starts to creep in.

Now, how do you solve this kind of problem? Well, you need to nip it in the bud really quickly before it gets out of hand. Put differently, you need to act quick. Meaning, if your toddler comes out to visit you all of a sudden on week three, you have to march them right back to their bed and caution them sternly. Perhaps you could tell then something like “You’re not allowed to come out of your bed and if you do that again, mummy will beat you”…and make sure you state the consequence.

A favourite consequence that works best for most moms in this particular issue is by locking the door. We’ll expatiate this later; but, here is the basics of the approach. Using this method, you can tell them something like “If you come out of your room again, I’m going to have to lock your door”.  If they disobey and repeat the same act, then put them back in the room, close the door all the way and just hold it closed for one minute. You’re not obviously going to lock children in their room throughout the night. No. All you want to do here is a pass a message to the baby. Thus, you are just going to make it unpleasant enough so that they’ll think a little bit harder next time they decide to get out of that bed.

A minute of holding the door closed, is a great place to start. If they do it again, then maybe you up that to three minutes next time, five minutes the next time, then seven minutes and so on until it gets to a point where your toddler thinks, okay, I really did not like that. I’m going to stay in my bed now.  This is a great way to just solve this problem before it really turns into this hour long game of they come out, you put them back, the cycle repeats. That’s not fun for any guardian.

However, this method is kind of temporary, thus, you need a long term one. So, how do you get to keep the toddler in bed after transition for a very long time?

How to Keep the Toddler in Bed

Toddler in Bed

A lot of guardians struggle with transition from a crib into a big-girl bed big girl or boy bed. and most of the time; the trouble starts about three or four weeks after the transition. Those first few weeks is what we call the honeymoon phase where the toddler isn’t quite sure yet what’s going on, probably hasn’t even really figured out that he can get out of the toddler bed at the time. During that phase, most parents feel like “oh wow…that was really smooth” or “that went off without a hitch” then three weeks later, the games start. And from experience, the most common toddler game playing at that time is getting out and coming to see where you are.

Now, that’s quite understandable because for most of the little dude’s life, he’s been confined to the crib and has never had that freedom. So, you can imagine that’s really tempting to keep him there. Getting out of the bed to go to see where mommy is will start ringing in his mind from the third and fourth week. You should expect that. But when it happens, you should tell him as calmly as possible, not to do that, before taking him back to the bed. It’s best you do this calmly because, if you get angry with him out of frustration, you will only end up raising your voice which will make him cry. You don’t want that. And it’s not just about crying, but shouting at them in the end will really feel like nothing is working. They are toddlers; you don’t expect them to talk back, do you? So, it doesn’t matter how mad you get, and it doesn’t matter how many times you yell because, all you’ll be doing at that point is give them the attention they sought for in the first place.

And if this is going on for an hour or more, you should know that it is really rewarding to the baby and it will give them enough motivation to come out next time, in anticipation of the same reaction from you. So, it’s best you just say a word or two, and take them back to their bed. No elongated reactions. Now, with that said, lets fully analyze the ways you can keep a toddler in bed.

Shutting the Door


Although we’ve made mention of this earlier, it is really important that we emphasize on it as its been the most potent way, guardians have been able to keep their babies in bed. While raising a toddler, there needs to be clear boundaries and consequences in order to successfully keep them in their bed. One of the most common of such method is the “locking the door” approach. Now, you’re not going to literally lock the door, so don’t panic. However, you are going to say after he’s come out one time that if he comes out again, you’re going to have to lock the door. Now, that’s a consequence that every toddler knows is not a good one. You’ll never meet a toddler who really doesn’t care if you’re going to lock his door or not. Once you’ve said that, if he comes out again, you should say “okay, back to bed now. I’m locking your door”. And by that I mean you’re going to close it tightly all the way till it latches. At that time, you may have to actually hold on to the doorknob on the other side, fully closed for at least one minute, and then anticipate their reaction. Usually, after about 30 seconds, they’ll think you’re serious and may start crying out of fear. When this happens, then it means you’ve preconditioned their subconscious into believing that the consequence for them leaving their bed, is being locked away.

But, you and I both know that toddlers are different, thus; you should expect diverse reactions depending on the baby. Put differently, why some toddlers may start crying, others could choose to start banging on the door. Still, no matter how many times they side kick, bang and ask to be let out, or for you to open the door, you shouldn’t yield in to their request. Only open the door after the minute has elapsed. After opening, clearly state it to him that if he comes out of his room again, that you’re going to do the same thing, this time way longer or forever. The goal there is to send shock and fear down his spine, so they’ll dread stepping out of their bed. 

And the best way is by extending the amount of time you lock the door every time they disobey. So, if it was one minute before, if he comes out, you lock it for 3 minutes. If he does it gain, five minutes and so on. With that progression, there will come a time where it’s going to be long enough for him to bear. And once it gets to that point where he is not finding it funny anymore, he’s going to stop the behavior. So, you don’t have to get mad, raise your voice or do too much talking before getting them to stay in their bed. However, if you have a smart toddler, you won’t need to pass through this tedious phase of correction, as schooling him on the consequences of their actions will be good enough to cause such toddler to behave. Put differently, if your toddler is smart, after telling him/her what you’ll do to them if they disobey and leave their bed, they’ll simply obliged and not move an inch.


toy in bed

Another method a guardian can use in keeping their toddler in bed, is by placing their toys in it. This is because toddlers tend to leave their bed when they feel bored, or have nothing exciting to fondle with. Now, having their toys present inside the bed will not only help get their attention, but keep the thought of having to leave the bed, far off their minds. Toddlers love toys and the only reason they would want to leave the room in search of their mother is when they have nothing to play with. In fact, except when they are hungry or want to ease themselves, in most cases, their zeal to leave the bed is often because of boredom. So, make his stay there fun filled by keeping teddy bears and other fun baby things around the bed for him. That way, you won’t have to always go checking if they are inside the bed; time after time.

Age Difference

toddlers playing

The bottom line to solving the issue of a toddler staying in bed is to ensure that your child stays in the crib for at least 3-4 years, before transitioning them. I would say, if your toddler is not climbing out of the crib every single day, like multiple times which really isn’t safe, then don’t take them out of the crib. However, some kids aren’t active climbers who are not able to climb or just not interested. If this is your child, then leave them in the crib as long as possible until at least they blow out the candles on their third birthday cake. You’ll need to do that because you will save yourself, as well as your toddler, so much heartache. Plus, you won’t have to be keeping tabs on their movement out of the bed. Anything less than this age bracket, then you can be sure that it won’t be easy keeping them inside the bed.

In a nutshell, transitioning a toddler to bed varies depending on your observation as the guardian. If your baby isn’t the type that loves climbing adventures, then there is no need to rush into transitioning them to bed. However, if they are fond of making attempts towards climbing out of their crib, naively; then you should try and make the transition for safety sake. So, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think that age 3-4 is too soon or too late for transitioning? We’d love to hear your views in the comment section. Cheers!

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