Crib To Bed Transition Q&A

Podcast

May 2, 2024

Are you transitioning your toddler from crib to bed? At Little Z’s, we’ve helped thousands of families make this big transition for their kids. In this post, I’m sharing some of my top strategies.

I am answering all of your questions about moving from the crib to the big kid bed, and I’m even having my husband, Chad, help me out in a rapid style Q&A! I surveyed my followers on Instagram, asked you what questions you had, and we took all of those questions and came up with this episode to give you the most insight on how to make this pretty big transition.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO TRANSITION FROM CRIB TO BED? DOES IT VARY WITH EACH KID?

Yes, it can vary by each kid and age to age. At Little Z’s, our rule of thumb is to keep children under the age of 3 years old in a crib.

If your little one is under 3 years old, sleeping in their open bed 11-12 hours all night long without a fight, then you do you, and don’t worry about it!

But the majority of people who come to Little Z’s want to either prevent night wakings, or they want to solve night wakings, so if you have a child under 3 years old, let’s keep them in a crib.

 

HOW FIRM OR SOFT IS THE MATTRESS FOR A TODDLER?

This is kind of hard because I don’t know the firmness and softness of every single bed, and actually, I wanted to tie in another question that someone asked recently about a memory foam mattress. Someone said they already had a memory foam mattress, can I just use that? Honestly, yes, at this 3-year-old age, if you already have an extra bed, you might as well just save some money and use it.

I really don’t think there’s any magic to saying you should have a super firm bed or a super soft bed. While we’re especially focused on a firm mattress for babies under 12 months old, we’re not concerned about the mattress firmness after the baby stage.

Now, yes, let’s get comfortable and cozy! I would always do the “you test”. You lay on it. What do you think? Would you want to sleep there all night long? Is it comfortable?

 

WHAT ABOUT PUTTING THE MATTRESS ON THE FLOOR

I understand the idea. The thought is: It’s a little kid, why do they need a big bed? It’s easy to get in and out, therefore, let’s just put the mattress on the floor!

That statement is exactly why you shouldn’t have the mattress on the floor, which is actually called a Montessori bed. I don’t want you to have the mattress set up on the floor because it is an invitation for your child to easily get in and out whenever they please. 

When we first set up our youngest’s mattress in her room, our oldest said, “Oh look! It’s so easy for Hattie to get in and out of her bed!” I was like, “Bingo!” So please, please, please, by all means, just get a $40 frame and prop that mattress up because we want to have the right set up for your child. Even if it’s just a foot off the ground, it gives that separation so it’s less of an invitation to go play with all the fun things around the room.

 

SHOULD YOU USE A BED RAIL?

We don’t use bed rails and it’s just because I don’t want to buy them!! If you can relate, here’s a hack. We used a pool noodle with my first daughter. We didn’t use it with our second because she was a lot less active in bed. Our oldest was always moving around, so we put a pool noodle on the side, under the fitted sheet, so that it kept her in a little more.

The beds are also low enough to the ground that it’s not an issue. In fact, the beds we used for the girls have two different height settings. We have it on the lowest setting. I think we only had one issue ever where she just rolled out of bed for some reason, but she was so low to the ground, I don’t even think it woke her up. So, we personally don’t use bed rails. I would just put the bed on the lowest setting so it’s easier for your kid to get in and out of.

 

HOW DO YOU GET THEM TO STAY IN BED WITHOUT HAVING TO LAY WITH THEM?

Good question! I bet you know how I am going to answer this because it gets back to the foundations! If your kid is expecting you to lay with them every single night already, then you have to train them. You have to teach them the expectations of how to stay in their bed.

If you’re making this transition at 3 years old to go from crib to an open bed and you’re not already laying with them, they’re not going to expect that. If they already expect you to help them fall asleep anyways, then they’re going to want that when you move them to the big bed.

If the question is, you’re currently sleeping with your kid and how can you stop, then let’s get a plan in place because we don’t have to be laying with our kids every night to go to sleep. 

I was actually talking with some friends and they said their 3 and 4-year-olds actually ask mom and dad to get out of the bed. They lean over and say, “Goodnight!” I wish our oldest would do this because she latches on for dear life, like “Stay with me, stay with me!” I’m like, “We’ve never done that, goodbye!” It really gets back to the foundation. 

If your kid is expecting you to help them get to sleep, then we need to sleep train. We need to fix things. If your child knows how to sleep independently, it’s not like they go to the big bed and all of a sudden, they expect you to help them. They’ll have the same expectations.

 

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE DUVET COVERS NOT STAYING ON RIGHT?

If you could see our own bed right now! The duvet has been off of the duvet cover for months. I keep washing it, and I don’t put it back on. I would say, make sure you’ve tied them at the bottoms and make sure they’re all situated the right way. But if you’re already worried about that, then don’t go the duvet route. I just happen to like duvets and duvet covers, especially when I set them up properly. I would just make sure you’ve secured them and double knotted them on the corners to make sure it’s fitted nice and tight.

 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A FULL-SIZE BED?

I think we chose the full size for our oldest because she was all over the place in her bed. Our youngest, she stays in one spot. We also didn’t want to pay for another bed later. We just wanted to get a good size bed (like I said it comes with two different height settings), so as she gets older, we can just raise it up off the floor a little more.

Plus, it worked for us in the room we had. Realistically we could have gotten away with the twin but we figured, why not?

This actually goes into a question no one asked, probably because they knew what I would say, don’t mess around with that whole toddler bed thing. 

It kind of gets into the similar topic of the mattress on the floor. It’s actually more inviting for your kid to get out of the crib now that it has one of the sides down.

My suggestion is to skip the toddler bed and I actually would rather you set up a big bed for them because you’re going to have to make the change down the line anyway. Somebody’s going to ask about a queen, and that’s fine, too!

 

MY CHILD IS 35 INCHES TALL, CRIB SAYS THAT IS MAX HEIGHT, DO YOU THINK I SHOULD SWITCH? CHILD WILL BE 3 IN A COUPLE MONTHS..

First of all, I want to applaud you for reading the instruction manual of your crib. I think it’s phenomenal that you know that information and that you’re trying to fall in line. That’s 3 feet tall, almost 36 inches. 

So, I would say for one, if your crib is saying that’s the max height, I would check on its max weight, too, because my gut feeling is say the max height is because they could easily fall out or climb out if they wanted to (because of the crib’s actual height). 

I also suggest looking into either moving your child to a toddler sized Pack n Play (like the 4 Moms Pack N Play).

You will seriously save your sanity if you look for another option instead of saying, “He’s too tall for this one, let’s just get him out” because you’re going to open up a can of worms.

 

WE TRANSITIONED AT 1 ½ YEARS OLD, BUT OUR TODDLER IS NOW 2 ½ AND KEEPS MOVING TO THE FLOOR. IS THAT A BIG DEAL?

We were going through the same thing with a client and her little one, who was sleeping 11-12 hours through the night, but she would come in and find her youngest laying on the floor. I’ve worked with several kids that would actually prefer the floor, which sounds weird to me, but everyone has different preferences. 

I might then look into the mattress. If you have a memory foam mattress, maybe it’s too soft and we need a firmer mattress. The fact that he’s getting out of bed and laying on the floor would only be a problem if he’s getting out of bed, playing in his room, coming to get you guys, shouting, talking, playing, and then collapsing on the floor out of exhaustion. 

If he’s literally getting out of his bed and laying on the floor with a pillow and a blanket and sleeping a full 11 to 12 hours, it’s not a problem. One day he may decide the bed is a nice place to be, but this also goes to show you that for boys especially, they need to understand the rules, boundaries and expectation of staying in your bed all night long.

 

MY THREE-YEAR-OLD SAID, “NOW I CAN GET IN AND OUT ON MY OWN.” HELP! WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR KID RECOGNIZES THE ABILITY TO GET IN AND OUT OF THE BED?

Your 3-year-old is now saying that she can get in and out and I want you to say, “Yes, yes, you can.” Then I want you to talk about the toddler clock.

I would say, “Yes, you can get in and out of the bed, so when the clock is red, you get in bed to go to sleep. When the clock is green you get out of bed to start the day.” 

Affirm the fact that they can get in and out, but let’s remember our expectations. You can get in bed when the clock is red. You get out of bed for the day when the clock is green. 

In our family, I don’t know if our children are just well-trained, but they have no concept that they could get out of their bed in the morning. They literally wait until we come into the room, which is fantastic. I love that right now. I definitely tell families that it depends on the way you want to do it. If you want to tell your child they can get out of bed when the clock is green, or wait until you go into their room when the clock is green, it’s totally fine. 

But I would just praise her for the fact that she can do that, and here’s how she can do it. Just give the guidance on yes that’s a possibility and here’s how you can do that. Oftentimes the child will say they’re going to do something and then the middle of the night comes and they’re by themselves in the room, and they’re like, “Nope, never mind I don’t want to do that.” Sometimes they don’t have the guts to follow through!

 

SHOULD SHE BE POTTY TRAINED FIRST?

I have worked with families where the child was not nighttime trained, still wearing pull-ups, which is okay at this age. I would want you to actually be teaching, especially 3 and up if they are in a big kid bed now, we may need to teach how to go potty at night. We had to do that with our oldest and teach her that when you get out of bed to go potty in the middle of the night, you get out of bed, you tiptoe quietly like a little mouse into the bathroom, get up on the stool, go potty, wipe, flush, go back to sleep. 

They don’t have to be potty trained to sleep in a big kid bed if they are over 3. But again, that’s the whole theme, let’s wait until they are over 3 years old.

 

HOW DO I INTRODUCE THE BED?

In our own family, I’ll say that Chad did a really good job of telling our youngest, Hattie, a couple of days before. I wouldn’t get into it like, “In two weeks you’re going to have a new bed.” You may be talking about it, but you don’t have to have a countdown because they have no idea of the time. 

A couple of days before, you start to tell them. Then their first night in it, we really didn’t make a huge deal about it, we just acted like it’s the new normal, like, “Alright let’s get in your bed, isn’t this great, okay time to go night-night.” It was so cute! She just laid down and she kept saying, “This is so exciting!”

With our oldest, we actually had her help assemble the bed. I gave her the screwdriver and she took ownership of the bed, and we let her help make the bed the afternoon prior. All day we were looking forward to that night!

 

HOW TO KEEP THEM IN WHEN THEY REFUSE?

I think this has everything to do with what time your child goes to bed. For instance, with an almost 3 year old I worked with who was still in a crib, she has a 1 ½ hour nap in the middle of the day at school and it was taking her 45 minutes to fall asleep at night. She was calling out for mom, calling out for dad, and I guarantee if she was in a big kid bed, she’d probably be getting out, and the reason is, her bedtime wasn’t right.  They were putting her to bed too early based on her good nap. We needed to adjust her bedtime. 

So, you need to ask how old is your kid? Are they napping during the day? Usually, 3 and up they have no need to be napping, but yes at preschools and daycares they will. So then you need to find the right bedtime.

I would also encourage two things. I want you to check out this post for when you know it’s time to drop the nap, and I want you to go here where I talk about the ideal toddler bedtime.  

If your child is refusing to stay in their bed, then we need to evaluate if their nap is too long. Maybe they need to get rid of their nap, and what’s the bedtime routine look like? Are they looking for you to help them get to sleep? Do they enjoy a bedtime routine? Was it fear-based that they better get in the bed and be quiet, or else? Or are you able to connect with your child, and they’ve had their fill of you and so they’re able to confidently get in their bed and fall asleep on their own?

 

ANY BENEFITS OF SLOWLY TRANSITIONING, FOR EXAMPLE, NAPS FIRST?

Good question. There is no benefit to that. In fact, I would never suggest doing a slow transition. Y’all know I’m about implementing everything all at one time. In fact, it can really confuse your child if you say, “We’ll do this today and tomorrow will be something different.” That’s so confusing. 

We want to come all in and say, “This is the new normal, this is what we’re doing, and this is how we do it.” Again, I’m going to point you here to that toddler bedtime routine, because I have some bedtime routine cards in there that you can use with your child to help them understand that this is the bed, this is what we do, we’re doing it, let’s go.

 

SHOULD WE WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE NEW BABY ARRIVES AND POTTY TRAINING TO AVOID TOO MANY TRANSITIONS?

Congratulations on the baby coming! If you have several months out before the baby comes, then yes, go ahead and make the change. I would not make the change to a big bed if the baby is coming in the next several weeks. That is a lot of change all at once, but if you’ve got plenty of time, I would go ahead and do the change to the big kid bed, and especially if she is still sleeping all night long, then it’s not going to be a big deal.

I would say though, let’s do either one of those first. You could do potty training and then the bed, or the bed and then potty training. It’s totally up to you. Of course, the whole potty-training thing is different from the bed because with potty training, we need to know your kid is ready. 

Take it from us. You can’t force your child to be potty trained. We’ve had lots of experience in trying to rush our oldest and she wasn’t ready. You can’t rush that. If you know that she is showing signs that she’s ready, then great, do it. 

The big kid bed, if she’s 3 years old or just about to turn 3, then yes, get her to the big kid bed, and then potty train if you have plenty of time before the baby arrives.

 

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH LEAVING THE ROOM?

This is quite the thing with our children right now because I’ve hinted on Instagram that our oldest actually needs a later bedtime. My youngest needs a little earlier, so we meet in the middle and do a 7:00, sometimes 7:10 bedtime. When we leave the room, this is what we do.

We say goodnight to each of them. Each of us says goodnight to each kid, we say our prayers, we sing a song, we switch, say a prayer, say goodnight, and then we leave. I want you to do the exact same thing. This is if your child is fully confident and capable of sleeping independently.

The biggest thing that I want you to know and not say, is “Don’t get out of your bed” because I almost guarantee that your kid never even thought about it until you just gave them permission. Don’t be marching out of that room saying, “Don’t get out of bed, stay in your bed.” They probably didn’t think about it until you gave them the idea. I want you to treat it just as you do in the crib situation. 

Say goodnight, say your songs, say your prayers, do your goodnights and then leave the room. If your child is depending on you to fall asleep, then you need to be looking at some sleep coaching, If your child is under three and still in a crib, this is the perfect time to do our Toddler Sleep Training Course. This way we can build their confidence in sleep, and when you do make that transition to a big kid bed, it’s going to be a whole lot smoother.

 

CONCLUSION

These are really good questions. I’m so thankful that you guys asked these as you’re making the transition from a crib to a big kid bed!! 

Whether you’re wondering:

  • When to make the change
  • How to know which type of bed or mattress to go with
  • How to keep your kid in the bed or room

Or more, I hope that you found the answers you’re looking for! As always, here at Little Z’s, we’re all about making sleep a thing – whether your child is in a crib OR a bed!! Sweet dreams!

 

LOVE THIS? PIN FOR LATER!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BRAND NEW!

Downloadable Sleep Plans are here!
Starting at $49 get a plan you can start as soon as...tonight!

SHOP SLEEP PLANS!