Your history of watching MTV in the early 2000s may have led you to believe no one would ever want to leave their Crib. Not when there’s an indoor basketball court and an entire refrigerator reserved just for Cristal. Dayum! But your kid is not 50 Cent (probably). They will want to leave their crib at some point, regardless of how much future Cristal you promise them. And that’s when you know it’s time to transition to a toddler bed … or the floor if their crib is anything like Redman’s.
One of the biggest indications your kid is ready for the bed transition is when you notice they’re going all Cliffhanger on their crib and practicing their free climbing skills on the rails. Exhilarating to watch, for sure, but it’s also dangerous — even Sly wasn’t doing his own stunts. The catch is, you might not know this is happening until they randomly wake you up one morning and scare the bejesus out of you.
So, you might want to make the change before the kid starts researching climbing shoes. Experts generally agree that children should transition from crib to toddler bed sometime between age 2 and 3. Some can transition even earlier if you need to evict them in order to make room for another child (man, you move fast). As long as they’re moving into a bed with safety rails, they’ll be safe.
Another good time to transition is when your kid is on the road to becoming a peerless potty pooper. It’s not fair to want them to take control of their bowels and bladder and then lock them behind bars overnight. Giving them the opportunity to rouse you so you can help them go number 2 at 1 AM will only give them more confidence.
If you want an authoritative stamp of approval on your decision, the AAP recommends transitioning your kid once their crib railing is lower than their chest. No matter what, be prepared for them to experiment with their newfound freedom and move around when they’re supposed to be sleeping. Consider it a dry run for when they start driving.
There are a few things you can do to help them prepare and make the move better for almost everyone. For instance, try psyching them up for a move to the “big kid” bed several weeks beforehand and letting them pick out their own righteous set of glow-in-the-dark dinosaur sheets.
Finally, don’t forget to get your childproofing on, because, to reiterate: Your kid will not stay in bed. And all those bad things they can’t do or touch under your watchful eye look a lot more fun when you’re not around to scowl disapprovingly at them.