The Ultimate Guide to the Big Kid Bed Transition

The Ultimate Guide to the Big Kid Bed Transition

If you’re moving your little one to a big kid bed, you might have questions like at what age to transition them, how to transition them, and how long this is going to take. Don’t worry - I’ll answer it all here! 

Before we start, let me just say that transitioning to a big kid bed shouldn’t be done as a solution to bad sleep. Moving to a big kid bed too soon can actually make your child’s sleep way worse! 

Here’s how to know your child is ready for a big kid bed:


They’re big enough to be asking for one.

If they are developmentally mature enough to ask for a big bed, chances are they’re ready for one. 


They’re climbing out of the crib.

If you’re worried about your little one’s safety and they’re big enough to be climbing out of the crib, you need to consider transitioning.  

Before transitioning though, make sure you’ve done everything you can - like move the mattress level to the lowest one, turned the crib around so they higher side of it is facing outward, removing anything that can be used to climb with in the crib, putting a sleep sack on your child to prevent their ability to cilmb, etc.


Your child doesn’t fit in the crib anymore.

If they’re physically too big and they’re squished in there, they might be more comfortable in a big kid bed/they’ve maxed out the weight limit of your crib.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the (not so) fun part.



How to transition from a crib to a big kid bed:

Now you might be wondering “well, HOW do I get my child to sleep in a big bed?”

This really ALL comes down to preparation! 

Don’t just spring bring changes on your kid: prepare them for the changes! And make them a part of it.

It helps tremendously to discuss all expectations beforehand: what do you expect them to do? What can they anticipate from YOU if they don’t do what is expected? Demonstrate it and talk it out!

Here are some actionable steps you can take to making this transition smooth and fun:


Pick a date

Choose a date on the calendar together and check off the days leading up to the big day. Have them pick the day they transition and mark it ‘big girl/boy/kid bed day!’. Have your child put a sticker on it. If your child is climbing and it’s a safety issue to transition, you can just inform them of the change that will take place ASAP.


Safety first

Be sure to add a guard rail if you're not converting to a toddler bed and to make the sleep space safe since they have the freedom to roam.


Make the bed exciting

Pick new covers with your child/help them decorate and make the space inviting. Hype it up and make them excited. 


Talk about it (through play!)

Sit down and draw with your little one and talk about the transition. Talk about the bed, how they have to stay in it, sleep aaall night, explain what they can do when they wake and they’re bored. 

I made some coloring pages for the big kid bed transition where you can print them out and draw your child’s room while you’re discussing this change!

Grab them here.
how to transition to a big kid bed


Use an OK to Wake-clock/Hatch

Discuss your expectations together and use an OK to Wake-clock so they know when it’s time to get out of bed (and when to stay!) Also, offer some books they can read while they stay in bed in the morning. Have them choose the colors of the clock, if possible.


Role play all expectations

Use dolls or just do it on your own. Explain what you expect of them and what they can expect of you. Discuss what they CAN do if they wake up in the night or have a hard time falling asleep (they can cuddle mom’s shirt, play with their lovey, etc.)


Give them a sense of control

Put them in charge of turning off the light at bedtime, or putting their teddy bear to sleep next to them at bedtime. Anywhere you can give them autonomy can help!


Use a visual aid, like a bedtime chart 

Check things off together off the bedtime chart so they know what’s coming, they feel safe in their routine, and add some fun to your routine


Download my FREE bedtime charts HERE.

free bedtime charts for toddlers and children


Common questions about transitioning to a big kid bed

What age do you switch to a big kid bed?

There is no perfect age for it, but I recommend you wait until your child is minimum 3 years old (though some children are ready earlier than this). At this age, they’re developmentally mature enough to understand what is expected of them, and more likely to behave safely when they wake up early or in the middle of the night.


How long does it take to transition to toddler bed?

This transition can take time, guys - so be patient! Actually moving them to the big kid bed is done in 1 day, but mastering this and not having them come into your room, understanding the OK to wake-clock and actually sleeping inside the bed instead of on the floor/roaming around can take up to 1 month. 


If you need some help with the transition, I’m happy to work with you. Email me & let’s chat about how I can help you.

Remember - if you have already introduced the bed and didn’t do any of these things, it is never too late to start new routines. The key with toddlers really is to talk things out and show them what it is going to look like in advance.


Good luck!

💜 Ellanee

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