How To Move Your Toddler From Crib To Bed

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Kathryn Tegeder, MD
Kathryn Tegeder, MD

Moving your child from a crib to a bed is a big change. During the adjustment, it’s most important that you consider your child’s safety and maintain a healthy sleep routine.

When To Consider a Bed

“Most toddlers will get too big for their crib and must move to a bed by age 2,” says Kathryn Tegeder, MD, a pediatrician with Westshore Primary Care. 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 at least 35 inches tall.

Bed Safety

Here are some tips from Dr. Tegeder to keep your toddlers safe in their beds:

  • Make sure you can add guardrails to the bed to prevent falls. Fit the guardrails against the mattress and frame so that 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 younger than age 6.

Sleep Routines

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

  • 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 nor too cold.
  • Use a night light or small lamp.

“If they get out of bed, return them to bed immediately,” Dr. Tegeder says. “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.”

Related Links

Need a pediatrician your child will love? Find a UH Rainbow pediatrician in your neighborhood.

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