Let’s Discuss: Big Kid Bed?

I'm a big kid now!

When we were shopping for cribs I remember just wanting something clean, modern and inexpensive. Whether or not it could convert to a “big boy” bed wasn’t really at the top of my list of priorities.   Imagining my as of yet unborn child sleeping in a toddler bed seemed like something so far off in the future.. like when hovercraft and teleporting are invented.  In short, something I couldn’t even comprehend.   Of course you don’t need me to tell you that it goes by faster than the blink of an eye and that future is just around the corner!

Jasper has two cribs, one at becoming home and one at my parents’ house. The one at my parents’ house is really high – I can’t imagine him being able to climb out of it anytime soon – but the sides of the one at becoming home are really short in comparison.  When he stands up the side only comes up to like his belly.    So I’ve been thinking about whether or not that means he’s “ready” for a big kid bed?  Or, more importantly, ready or not if there’s a possibility he might try to climb out and fall! Is this something that needs to be anticipated well in advance to avoid potential injury, or do we wait for signs that he is actively trying to climb out (and risk a fall in the meantime)?

He’s sleeping on a cot at daycare for naps, so I know he’s capable of falling asleep without bars.. I’m just not sure I’M ready!  I have visions of him getting just climbing out of bed and pulling on the door crying instead of sleeping. Unpleasant visions.

So here’s my question to you all, if your toddler has already made the transition to big kid bed what made you decide to go ahead and do it? How did the transition go?  If like me you are just thinking about it, is there a specific age you are waiting for or are you waiting for some sign that he or she is ready?

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Kristen says:

No advice, we’re not there yet. Although Jackson won’t nap in his crib anymore during the day, only in a bed. So, when we move to our new house in a couple months, we figure we’ll get him a twin bed for naps and also put his crib in his room. Whenever he’s ready for nighttime in the bed, we’ll let him go for it and take out his crib shortly after. Right now after naps he’ll get out of bed (it’s a really low bed he’s napping in now) and walk to the door and knock/whine to be let out!

Sara says:

Ariana,
My 13 month old climbed out of his crib yesterday (and was quite proud). Ugh. I’m so not ready for this. He slept on his crib mattress on the floor last night…our quick fix until setting up the toddler bed this weekend. Good luck with Jasper!

Michelle says:

Oh my gosh – keep him in the crib until he can crawl out of it or you need it for another baby. We kept our son in his crib until 2 1/2 when we needed it for our daughter. He hasn’t taken a nap since! :-) He does go to bed ok – just won’t nap. He’s 4 now.

Sarah says:

Kaitlyn *who is a day older than Jasper* has been in a big girl bed for about a month now. She transitioned better than I thought she would. I had to get over the emotional part of this because we actually threw our crib out after being used by about 5 kids altogether and Kaity being our last child. That was hard, but manageable :D
I got one of those bed guards you put so they don’t fall out. I got a gate for her door so she can’t get out of her room, but we still shut the door. She still gets out of her bed occasionally, but when I put her to bed I stand by the door and leave it open a crack and if she gets up, I tell her to “Lay down and go sleepy!” and she obeys. She has done VERY well considering her age. Good luck to you on this decision!!!

Mrs Brown says:

At 13 months old, Ellie learned to jiggle her crib rails just right to get them down. That freaked me right out. I check for recalls on our crib, but there weren’t any. So faced with buying a new crib when we can’t have any more kids, or buying a toddler bed, we went with the toddler bed. It’s been a month now and so far so good.

Interestingly enough. She won’t crawl out of her toddler bed. She sits on the edge with her arms reaching out toward me and says Mum-mum!

alex says:

We transistion Phoenix to a toddler bed at about 16 months for not other reason then a saw a fantastic DIY for an upholstered toddler bed, really wanted to try it out and KNEW we would have no problems. And sure enough 2 months in Phoenix sleeps really well.

We built small railings on both side and have had no problems with him falling out.

Phoenix has always had this fierce independence streak and I can forsee trying a lot of things a lot earlier then the “norm”

pam says:

Oy. I know my situation is different from the norm, but my boys are 26 months and I’m still not even considering a switch to the toddler beds anytime soon. Maybe in a year or two, seriously. Right now we have crib tents.

But, they do sleep on cots at daycare, so I know they’re capable. But they also have 2-3 people watching them at all times while they sleep on said cots. So…yeah…beds when they’re in high school.

jenn says:

mia was in her crib wit sides until she was 2 1/2 yrs. then we took the side off and put the small rail up so she could still sleep in it and not roll out. for her 3rd birthday, she got a twin bed. she did climb out a time or 2, the first time when she was 18 months or so. she was no where near ready to transition then. i enforced that she was not to climb out, and if she wanted me she was to call me through the baby monitor. once she saw she could call “mama or dada” and we would come get her she stopped climbing out. good luck! i had those same visions of no sleep at 18 months that you are having. and are you sure his matress is at the lowest point?? we thought mia’s was, but as it turned out, there was one more lower spot we had missed. it is worth looking at :)

Petra says:

I know exactly what you’re going through. My boy is now 2 years and 4 months and it’s definitely time. He’s never liked his cot and has seen it more as a handy trampoline than anything else.

From a safety aspect, he’s always quick to hook his leg over the top of the bars, but luckily we’ve often been close when he’s done that, and berated him. As much as you’re told that your toddler falling out of a cot doesn’t do much harm, it’s a risk you could never take as a mother. Thant’s why we’re making the transition now. For our peace of mind more than anything else really.

Of course we’re dreading him wondering into our room and climbing into our bed willy nilly, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

All the best.

Sarah says:

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of days, so I’m glad you brought it up. A few nights ago when Finn wanted out of his crib, he lifted his foot up and inched his toe toward the edge of the rail, trying to leverage himself up and over. Outside of this incident, I wasn’t worried, as the rail is still up to his chest, but he is flexible, SO STRONG, and very daring. I didn’t think it could be possible yet (he’s a week shy of 16 months), but maybe he could somehow get a grasp with that big toe or even the ball of his foot and pull himself up!(?). Luckily we already have a “toddler conversion kit” that we got with the crib, so that’ll ease my mind in some ways, but as everyone is talking about, he’ll be roaming all over the place! Plus, I think he suffers from nightmares as I did so often as a child. I can imagine him running out of his room several times each night…
Geez, is motherhood ALWAYS filled with worries that you’re doing the wrong thing?

Dawn says:

Kate is 16 months old and we just transitioned her. I know this is rare. We didn’t move Noah until he was two and then only because we needed it for Kate. We decided to move Kate because she was showing all the signs of being ready. At night she would try to climb in the crib, begging to go to bed. In the morning she would try to climb out, and Noah tried to help her! We made the switch Sunday and (knock on wood!) we haven’t had any issues with putting her to bed or having her stay there. One night she wandered out but it was right after light’s out and when we told her to go back to bed she did. Thank you GOD!

annie g. says:

we transitioned our 21 month old as soon as she clmbed (and fell) out of her crib. bought the full size bed (and guardrail) the next day and it was delivered a week later. the transition was seamless – she’s been in for 2 weeks now and still calls to us in the morning to come get her. good luck!

ariana says:

Great advice as usual Heather!

Marybeth, so true. I have no idea how they can differ so wildly.

Nanette, poor baby! Not to freak you out but in my research about this issue I came across a comment from someone who knows a baby that was strangled in one of those tents.. no idea how much of a hazard they really are or if this was like a once in a lifetime incident.. still really scary!

Nanette says:

I’ve thought about it, too, with our 16-month-old. She doesn’t understand safely climbing down backwards from things, like from a couch or big chair. She still just lunges forward, head first. (That’s how we ended up in the ER a couple weeks ago, when she decided to lunge off the changing table, head first when I bent down to pick up a toy. Two stitches in her bottom lip – not fun for anyone.) Until she understands gravity a bit more, we won’t transition her crib into a toddler bed. Her crib rail still reaches her arm pit, and if we start to get a sense that she’s going to try climbing out before we think she’s ready, we’ll probably get a crib tent to keep her in. Like this: http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/176-4010374-6016254?ASIN=B000XSD9GG&AFID=Froogle&LNM=B000XSD9GG|Tots_in_Mind_Cozy_Crib_Tent&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=B000XSD9GG&ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001

I don’t have any advice; I want to keep my now 18-month old in a crib until he’s oh, about 7 or 8 at the earliest!

I just want to say that I can’t BELIEVE there aren’t any standards for crib rail height! Why isn’t there a universal minimum hight?

Finally, if there’s any risk of Jasper falling out, I would switch him ASAP, but that’s the paranoid mom in me. A toddler in my hometown died last year after suffering from head injuries from a fall out of a play yard. I think about that almost every night when I see Haiden in his crib. Yikes! Nothing like a good, true horror story to put the fear in me…

Shane says:

What a great topic and one i’ve been thinking about. Staring a G curled up in the corner of his crib makes me think he’s too small for a big bed. We are planning on going to a twin bed from the crib and skipping the toddler bed setup. Although the toddler beds are sooo cute! and reasonably priced on Craigslist.

We are also thinking of moving G’s ‘room’ to our other bedroom when we do the bed switch. So timing and transition will likely be a little harder.

My gut resonates w/ @Heather’s comments – if it’s worrying you, then start making a switch now or changing his sleep setup while it’s Choice. Or (insert sarcasm) teach Jasper to climb out safely :-)

Michelle says:

We moved my son at 16 months. We bought a twin bunkbed set and put the bottom bunk in the attic for future use. The top bunk – with its taller rails around the mattress – sits on the floor. It has a wee ladder for Nate to climb into bed. It was the perfect solution. No need to spend money on a toddler bed that he is going to out grow in a year. It has built in rails so there is no chance of him rolling out of bed in his sleep. In a year or so we’ll bring the bottom bunk down and he’ll have a set of bunk beds for sleep overs. And the first night he slept in it was the first night he slept through the night. Seriously. I’m due in June and I’m considering skipping the crib all together this time just so I can get some sleep. I’m kidding! Maybe. 8-)

Heather says:

Okay, first and foremost, most toddlers don’t sustain major bodily harm from a crib fall, most. That said, most parents fall into the category you are in now, Fear of The Change. What I think is key here is examining your reasons for avoiding the switch. Either decision is fine, as long as it’s a choice. The one downside of waiting is that it no longer is your choice. Once your toddler has fallen out of their crib you switch out of fear or keep then in there each night in fear that it can happen at any time.

I’ve had parents do all of the above. All of their children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted little people. There’s no wrong choice, it’s just making the choice that is best for your individual family.

My view on toddler years is based in independence. Potty-training/learning/transitioning is about independence. Moving out of a highchair is about independence. Sleeping in a big-kid bed is about independence. Leaving bottles and binkys behind is about independence. And independence is what growing up is all about. It can come with positive guidance or it can feel like complete rebellion. That’s where I think the choice comes in.

I’ve worked with dozens of families. And though they all encounter the same milestones, every family experiences them differently. Because every family comes at them from a different perspective, a variety of places in life and ideals about their future. A common theme is fear of losing babyhood. Every parent experiences it but each embraces it differently. Those who grasp it tightly and become immovable are generally the ones that see independence as rebellion. Those who embrace it as another stage and phase that they will experience with their child tend to see their child’s independence as an opportunity for gentle guidance and this phase as a telescope into the person they are becoming.

Making this choice is opening up more choices for your child. Can they handle these new choices? Can you handle them? what are the potential drawbacks, concerns or safety issues with these new choices? What do you see as potential positive growths from these new choices?

It’s not an easy decision, nor one a family needs to make on the spot, until your child feels it has gone too long and decides they are ready for more choices and chooses to climb out. At that point a decision must be made, though some parents have just kept their children in their cribs and never had another climb-out. Others have removed side rails, some have left side rails down. Some have put mattresses in the room with the crib still there. Others have put gates at the top of the stairs and waited. The choices are endless, the creativity limitless.

You are doing a good job. Just keep thinking and see how you feel. It seems to me that if he still has his pacifier it will be easier to loose it before switching, though I see positives to both.

ariana says:

JB, poor A!! That’s totally what I want to avoid, but don’t want to be premature about it. Such a fine line!

jbhat says:

Oh my, I’m having a flashback to the horrible night when our kiddo climbed out of his crib, but crashed onto the floor. We ran into his room to see get him, but he wasn’t there! He’d run into our room to find us, but we weren’t there, so then he started screaming. OMG. We got a toddler bed the next DAY. I’m just glad he didn’t break his head doing that maneuver. He seriously could have.

The transition to the toddler bed was positive and negative. He was ready for it, size and safety-wise, but he didn’t want to fall asleep alone in it at night. So we had to go through some sleep training. I recall spending many uncomfy hours under a blanket on his floor, where I’d camp out while he was trying to fall asleep. If I tried to sneak out before he was totally asleep, it was inevitable that my ankle would crack, sounding like a gun going off in the quiet room, and of course, he’d wake right up and we’d have to start over. UGH.

Okay, well, good luck with that! (Oh, and he was almost 2 years old at the time.)

Catharine says:

I didn’t have any large signs, we just new before baby in July that we wanted to switch him. Well, we ended up finding a bed we liked and I wanted to get the nursery started so we set up the twin bed on a friday night (in case we had a tough night, we could nap the next day) It all went really smooth. He still wakes up but doesn’t crawl out like we thought he might. It’s been great and having him walk in to get us in the morning is super fun!

ariana says:

Kimberly, Jasper is a shorty too! But he’s also a daredevil :)

Kimberly says:

Ha! I am in NO hurry to move James out of the crib. AT ALL. His crib does convert to a toddler bed, although we don’t have the parts to do so at this point. But James is also pretty short (only 31″), and not much of a climber so I think he’ll be very safe in there for quite some time. Sorry I have no advice on this one at all! ;)

ariana says:

To those of you saying you don’t want to go there yet, I totally understand! If the crib at becoming-home weren’t so damn short on the sides I seriously wouldn’t be worrying about it either. I think he could fall out of that crib even if he wasn’t trying to climb out.. like if his bear or paci fell out and he was trying to reach for it. The thought of him falling on his little head just makes me cringe!

Molly says:

Haven’t decided to go there yet. With the impending arrival of baby#2 I just have these visions that it will be a mess. He is not trying to climb out of his crib yet. When he does we have the toddler conversion rails to switch it to a toddler bed. I really really hope that he doesn’t start to climb out of it until age 2.5. Wishful thinking on my part, most likely. But we’ve got too many transitions in the works to add another one to it. I say if they are happy where they are just keep them there.

Samm Ivri says:

Mia will be 17 months in a few days. I don’t think she’s ready. There’s no way she’d stay in a big kid bed if there are no bars. Also, she’s not climbing out or even trying to. So I don’t feel any pressure to rush into it. Probably closer to age 2.

sara says:

Hi Ari,

We transitioned Lola at 18 months. She was becoming quite the dare devil and trying to climb out of her crib. When we got her toddler bed we made it into a really big deal telling her it was her big girl bed and we let her help put the sheets on and pick out stuffed animals to put on top. She was so excited by the time the bed was all made that she went right to sleep in it. She loves it!

Angela S. says:

I just wanted to leave you a comment and let you what helped me decide it was time to switch my daughter to a toddler bed. She was two and still in her crib and never really tried to climb out much. But one day I read an article that said if the crib sides do not come up to atleast their chests then it’s time. Toddlers are head heavy and could just lean over the top and topple out onto their heads. That was all I needed to read and we switched her bed right away. I know it’s hard to say goodbye to the crib and what’s left of the baby stage but I felt like my mommy heart is stronger enough to handle the switch to big bed rather than handle a devastating injury. After we made the change, I no longer dwelled on those feelings and felt much better about it. And as moms, we only ever want what’s in our children’s best interest no matter how it makes our hearts feel. I hope this helps.

Keri says:

Hey Ariana! We’re not quite to the baby bed stage yet, but I did read somewhere (on safety tips/ babyproofing) that once the rails of the crib no longer reach the baby’s chest, you should transition to a toddler bed because the baby can tumble out of the crib. I hope that helps some:-).


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