Toddlerhood is filled with interesting developments. One big milestone to get ready for is the move from crib to toddler bed.
If your little one is suddenly starting to feel like a very big fish in a very small pond, it may be time to upgrade their sleeping arrangement.
But how do you know when it’s time for this prestigious promotion? And how do you make it happen smoothly?
Transition toddler bed: The lowdown
What’s the difference between crib and toddler bed?
When your baby is born, they will sleep in a crib or bassinet for at least the first year. To prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend newborns up to six months old sleep on their backs in a safety approved crib in the same room as you.
You might think it’s time to move to a bed when your toddler is “too big” for their crib. The interesting thing is that cribs and toddler beds are not that different from each other. In fact, when it comes to mattress size, toddler beds and cribs are generally pretty similar.
So how are cribs and toddler beds different then? In two key ways—the firmness of the mattress and the design of the bed frame.
Newborn crib mattresses need to be very firm to prevent suffocation. Once babies gain good control of their heads (definitely something to be proud of), it means that they have more control of their sleeping positions and can start sleeping on softer surfaces.
The other important difference between the crib and toddler bed is the frame type. The frame of a crib is built with two major elements in mind. It’s raised so that you can get to your baby easily, and it has rails to prevent your infant from rolling off the mattress onto the floor.
Toddler beds, on the other hand, are generally low to the ground and have only a small guard rail so little ones can climb in and out on their own. And they are sometimes very creative in their design. (Yes, you can have a fire engine bed, if you wish.)
Can any crib be converted to a toddler bed?
Many cribs on the market grow with your child—from convertible crib to toddler bed to twin bed. To accommodate the shift, the mattresses that come with convertible beds are often firmer on the one side and softer on the other.
If your bed has a different design, it is possible to transform it from one bed type to another with a conversion kit sold at most major retailers. And if you love an interesting DIY project, ditch the conversion kit and dive in there yourself.
When should you convert a crib to a toddler bed?
Knowing when to transition to toddler beds is not an exact science—but there are some guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you make the move when your child is about 35 inches tall. While all babies grow at different speeds, they generally reach this milestone at around the two-year mark.
The reason to make the move to toddler bed at this time? You may have an escape artist on your hands ready to take a plunge from their crib. Also, if you’ve started potty training, it’s time to upgrade so they can get to the potty at night.
Can a 4 year old sleep in a toddler bed?
And then the time comes to transition out of the toddler bed and into a twin. This often happens at around four years old, but it all depends on your child’s height. You’ll be able to see when they seem to be spilling out of the current arrangement.
Until the age of about five, keep those guard rails on and the bed low to the ground to avoid accidents.
This is an exciting time that goes by way too fast. Enjoy it.