Transitioning to a toddler bed is a big event in a toddler’s life. Until now, all they have known is the safety and security of a crib. This article is about transitioning to a big kid bed when your toddler is under two years old, including what to expect, tough moments, and how to get through the transition with ease.
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Generally, toddlers make the transition to a regular bed, whether that’s a toddler bed or twin size bed, between 18 months and 3.5 years. (Source)
Transitioning to a toddler bed can be really tough or really easy. Ultimately, it depends on your preparation and your unique toddler.
There are some key differences when transitioning to a toddler bed for a toddler under two. Toddlers under two will be less verbal. They may not completely understand the concept of switching to a regular bed, so helping them through the transition is important.
Reasons to transition under two years old
One of the big reasons to transition to a regular bed under two years old is your toddler is starting to climb out of the crib. As this poses a safety risk, most parents promptly transition to a regular bed.
My toddler never ventured to climb out of the crib, so that was not the reason we decided to transition her to a regular bed.
We have decided to potty train under two years old and that is the primary reason we made the transition to a twin bed. Although you can potty train while still in a crib, we want to tackle day and night training at the same time.
As parents, we felt that the crib was a huge barrier for her to independently use the potty at night if she needed to pee.
- Related reading: 7 tips on how to prepare for potty training
Toddler bed or twin bed?
This is a big question I see in mommy discussion groups and forums. When transitioning to a “toddler bed”, should I get an actual toddler bed or a twin bed?
Even though our crib was a convertible 4-in-1 crib, we decided to transition straight to a twin-size bed.
For us, a twin bed was a good long-term solution. It eliminates the need to transition from a toddler bed to a twin bed once a toddler outgrows the toddler bed. Financially, it wholly eliminates the cost of the extra crib attachments or a brand new toddler bed.
Including your toddler in the process
When transitioning to a toddler bed, including your toddler in the process helps a lot. Even though you may think that your toddler won’t understand if you try to verbalize the transition for her, they pick up on more than we think they do.
A few days prior to the transition, I started to explain to my 22-month toddler that she would be getting a new bed and that there would be no crib.
On the day that my husband started to take apart her crib, she had a mini look of horror on her face and I reminded her of no crib and her new bed.
As my husband finished taking apart the crib, she reaffirmed to us, no crib! Then the sweetest thing happened. As we were carrying the parts out to the garage, she waved and said bye crib! This literally melted my heart.
Preparing your toddler for the first night
I’m not going to lie, the first night was rough. I have a toddler who loves routines and consistency, so the first night was jarring. It was a big change for her.
When we put the bed together for her during the day, she was ecstatic! She promptly put all of her stuffed animals on the bed and wanted to play around in it all day.
Preparing for bed and nighttime was a different story. Once she realized that she had to sleep in the bed, out came the motherload of toddler tantrums.
After we turned off the light, said good night, and closed the door, she immediately started screaming, got out of bed, and started banging on the door.
My heart sank. We were watching from the monitor. I saw her get back into bed, but she was still screaming, so I decided to go to her room.
It turns out she threw up on herself! She wasn’t sick at all, so the fear, anger, and crying so hard must have caused her to throw up. We turned on the lights, changed her, read a few more stories, and tucked her back in.
Overall, the crying on the first night lasted about 15 minutes and she eventually went to sleep. As parents, this was the hardest night for us.
Here are some toddler bed options from Amazon.
Staying consistent with nap and bedtime routine
Our toddler continued to give us resistance at naptime and bedtime for a few days following the transition. For us, staying consistent with her nap and bedtime routines was key.
Even though the transition is big, keeping the same routines brings some comfort to them.
- Related reading: How to easily establish a solid bedtime routine for a toddler
The crying lessened day by day until there was no crying or resistance around the 3rd and 4th days.
After one week, she was willingly getting into bed at nap and bedtime and going to sleep. A few weeks later, she is still enjoying her new big kid bed. Transitioning to a toddler bed was a success!
Some observations in the process
When transitioning to a toddler bed, I did my due diligence as a parent and read a few articles on the topic. I noticed that some of the what might happen scenarios didn’t happen to us at all. This goes to show that every toddler is unique and different.
Here are some of my observations:
- My toddler doesn’t get out of bed to play during a nap or bedtime. I was waiting for this to happen and, surprisingly, it hasn’t happened. I thought for sure she would get out of bed at naptime because her room is partially sunlit but nope.
- She only banged on the door two times. I was mentally preparing for this to be a common occurrence but it only happened the first two nights. Since then, she does not get out of bed at all.
- She has not fallen out of bed. Many moms said their toddlers fell out of bed, even with toddler bed rails. We prepared by putting one of her playmats along the side of the bed but this has not happened.
- She refused to play in her room for the first couple of days. She did not want anything to do with her bedroom. I can only assume this may be fear or resentment associated with the new bed. This eased up after several days.
- The full transition made in one week. I was wholly expecting the transition to take up to a month. I was a little worried because we are starting potty training soon, so I’m glad it only took a week.
Final thoughts on transitioning to a toddler bed
Transitioning my daughter to a twin bed is bittersweet. On the one hand, I want her to grow and develop healthily but, on the other hand, it’s happening so fast.
She’s becoming more independent by the day and her language skills are blossoming. Soon, she’ll be potty training, and then she’ll turn two!