The Crib To Bed Transition: How to Successfully Move Your Toddler to a Big Kid Bed

17+ months

Dec 21, 2022

When it’s time for the crib to bed transition for your toddler, there are some important things you should know.

At the top of the list there is one, key phrase you should NOT say to your child when moving them to an open bed, otherwise, they likely will get out of their bed. 

In this video and podcast episode, I’m going to walk you through how and when to successfully transition your child from a crib to a big kid bed!

The Crib to Bed Transition Explained

Although moving your child from a crib to a big kid bed seems intimidating, it can be so exciting. 

Personally, it’s one of my favorite transitions because there’s nothing like cuddling up with your child, leaning on them, and reading a bedtime story together.

Before you make this change however, it’s important and helpful to have a plan, so let’s dive into my top tips and strategies when it comes to transitioning your child from a crib to a big kid bed!

Tip #1 Begin when your child is 3 years or older

You can transition your child to an open bed if they are 3 years of age or older.

That’s my one age requirement.

Under 3 years of age, your child will not understand the consequences, boundaries, or expectations that exist with a big kid bed. 

When your child turns three, that’s a great time to make this transition. 

Tip #2 Skip the toddler-sized bed (or floor bed)

When it comes time to transition your child out of their crib, make sure you are moving them into a “big bed,” such as a twin, full, or queen size bed. 

You don’t need to do the toddler sized bed, just skip that completely.

Why is that? Well, it’s actually because this could invite your child to get out of their bed more because it’s not as different as a big bed.

Think about it, with a toddler bed, your child is sleeping in their crib with one of the sides off.

They might realize, “Oh this is cool! Now I can get out of my crib!”

So go ahead and set up a big bed. 

There is so much power in setting up a big bed for your child that is bigger and sits higher than their crib.

In the same breath, I highly recommend avoiding a floor bed.

A floor bed, just like a toddler bed, is just an invitation for the child to get out and explore their room during the nighttime. 

I know floor beds are the trendy, “Montessori” way, but I do not recommend them as they may encourage your child to explore and play when they should be resting and sleeping.

Save yourself another transition by skipping the toddler bed or a mattress on the floor and move your child from a crib into a big kid bed from the very start.

Tip #3 Announce the transition right before you do it

Don’t tell your child weeks or months in advance before you move them into a bed. 

Rather, prepare them for the transition a day or two beforehand. 

Toddlers and preschoolers have no concept of time. 

Even my eight year old does not understand time just yet! 

For example, if you’re going to make the change on a Friday, tell them on Wednesday, and maybe take them to the store and allow them to pick out a new pillow or a new bedspread to go along with it! 

***Pro tip*** Make sure the new bed is actually in your home! I’ve had too many parents begin preparing their child for the transition only to find out that the bed hasn’t arrived on time because shipping has been delayed.

NEVER Say This To Phrase to Your Child 

Believe it or not, most kids don’t get out of their bed!

If you have a good, solid sleeper, they know exactly what to do and they will stay sleeping in their bed.

However, there is one key phrase that you should NEVER say to your child. 

When transitioning your child to a bed, never say, “Don’t get out of your bed, Okay?!”

The MOMENT that you tell them “Don’t get out of your bed,” will likely be the moment they REALIZE they CAN get out of their bed.

Your child likely has never thought about getting out of their bed.

So don’t plant the seed or introduce the idea of getting out of their bed.

Instead, assume the best in your child and hold to positive expectations. 

Say “Goodnight,” give them hugs and kisses, and close the door! 

If your child is an independent sleeper, then they will fall asleep within 10 to 15 minutes (maybe a little longer since a new bed is so exciting!) in their new bed with no problem at all. 

Make Sleep a Thing For Your Toddler or Preschooler

Using a toddler clock system is also a great tool to use when it comes to teaching your child open bed sleep expectations. If you are unfamiliar with how a toddler clock works, check out my video on How to Get the Most Out Of Your Toddler Clock HERE!

If your child does get out of bed, don’t freak out.

Calmly (that’s key!) walk them back to their door and ask them to climb back into their bed.

Simply say, “It’s time to sleep get back in your bed, please.” 

If they need a little extra reassurance, you could also say, “ When you get back in bed, I will come back to check on you in 10 minutes.”

The important thing is that your child needs to be reminded and encouraged that they can get back into their bed and they can put themselves back to sleep, all on their own!

If your toddler needs a new bedtime routine that is simple and fun, you can also check out my Ideal Toddler Bedtime Routine HERE and download our FREE Toddler Bedtime Routine Cards. 

These simple, yet powerful bedtime tools will have your toddler experiencing sweet dreams in no time.

“But Becca, what if sleep hasn’t been a solid, consistent thing for my preschooler or my family?” 

If your child is not an independent sleeper yet, and waking up tirelessly throughout the night with them is “normal,” then now is the PERFECT time to sleep train them, or re-sleep train them!

In fact, let me introduce you to my Preschool Sleep Program HERE.

This program is unlike any of my other plans because preschool aged children require a different level of sleep training.

At 3-5 years of age, your child can talk to you and this aspect greatly affects the training process!

Because your child is able to talk to you and communicate with you (unlike a baby or young toddler) my preschool program contains a detailed, step-by-step guide and script for you to follow each day of training. 

Unlike babies and toddlers, preschoolers can also physically get out of their bed. 

So you’re probably wondering what happens in the middle of the night when they wake up and get out of bed or come to your room?

My preschool program contains EXACT scenarios and examples of scripts to use with your child so that you can teach them that they are fully capable of sleeping all night without getting out of their bed.

Inside of this program I provide you with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to teach your child to stay and sleep in their bed all night long.

My Preschool Sleep Program has been proven and trusted by pediatricians and I am so excited for you to get your hands on it today, so that you and your family can make sleep a thing, together. 


The crib to bed transition is a HUGE and exciting milestone for your child! Although it’s a big transition, you don’t have to be intimidated by it! You can make the crib to bed transition a success for you and your preschooler by:

  1. Transitioning your child when they are 3 years of age or older.
  2. Skipping the toddler bed and moving your child to a big, elevated bed.
  3. Announcing the transition right before you do it.
  4. Involving your child in the transition WITH you.
  5. Avoiding the phrase, “Don’t get out of you bed!”

Most importantly, remember to PRAISE and ENCOURAGE your child through this process, expressing what an incredible job they are doing with the new responsibility of sleeping in their very own big bed! 


Move your child from a crib to a big kid bed successfully

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