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How to Time the Crib to Toddler Bed Move (Just Right)

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Inside: How to time the transition from crib to toddler bed, and how it relates to night training your toddler.

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All is quiet in the night, not a toddler was stirring.. and if so, he’s in a crib anyway.

There’s something magical about a crib safely containing a toddler, namely your toddler. The one who can get himself into things, up on things, and soar above any expectations of how much mess can be created in 5 minutes.

Take away the crib. Remove that railing.

What could happen in the span of a night?

So it’s not surprising to me when I’m working with a mom and she bristles at the thought of transitioning from the safe structure of a crib to the anything-can-happen freedom of a toddler bed.

I’m not a sleep consultant nor a child safety expert, but I am a mama of two who went through that transition myself (and lived to share). And as a potty training consultant, I work with moms all the time in figuring out the timing of that transition.

How timing the crib to toddler bed move can help getting your child to be diaper-free.

It’s a key part of night training your toddler.

Here's what to consider on timing your toddler's move out from a crib into the free-roaming world of a toddler bed.

How to time the crib to toddler bed move just right

Recognize that it's a big emotional milestone, for you

Potty training often falls into the same timing as this other big milestone in a toddler's life..

Switching from a crib to a toddler bed.

That transition is a big deal for your child, and your kiddo will feel like such a big kid. It's also a big deal for you as the parent.

Related: If you're looking for a toddler bed, how cute is this floor house bed!

It's a milestone that tends to channel a lot of emotions.

Motherhood has that bittersweet quality to it where you're so focused on helping this little human grow and learn and thrive, but it's sometimes *so hard* to let go of them being so little.

And a toddler bed can feel like it's rocketing your toddler into big kid territory.

The reality is that each family's sleeping situation is going to look different and what works for me as a mom, may not work for you, and that's OKAY.

And also, I firmly believe that when navigating anything related to the nighttime with your child (sleeping through the night, where your child sleeps, etc.) it's best to follow your own mama intuition.

Because you're the expert on what's going to work for your child and your family.

That being said, I can speak to how the crib-to-bed transition relates to potty training at night. Because they do go together. First, let me back up to the other question I get asked a lot by mamas.

When do you know it's time to yank the pull-ups (or diapers) at night?

I share more in my tips for potty training at night, but in short, here's what you want to look for:

A string of dry diapers.

Because if you keep putting your child in a pull-up or diaper after you see a string of dry diapers (meaning she's naturally holding and consolidating, the other half of potty training), then your child will eventually start using the diaper again.

Because it's there.

And we can't fault the kiddo for using a diaper that you're putting her in, right?

That's why it's key to yank the pull-ups for nap and for nighttime if you see that string of dry diapers.

That's your sign that it's the golden time to ditch the pull-ups.

Set up a nightlight in your toddler's room.

Now, how does this all relate back to the crib and transitioning your toddler from a crib to a toddler bed?

Because once you ditch the pull-ups at nap or nighttime, you want to set your child up for success — to be able to use the potty on their own.

  • You'll want to have a small potty set by the bed, the bed padded up.

  • And a (personalized) nightlight is also super helpful for potty training at night and scared-of-the-dark toddlers.

  • You'll want to toddler-proof the bedroom and places like stairs, with gates.

When to move toddler from crib to toddler bed

How does a toddler bed set up your child for success?

  • If she cues into the sensation to go pee (which sometimes happens after child moves through with daytime potty training), then she's NOT stuck in a crib. Where her only way to use the potty is to call out for help.

  • You're encouraging her independence to use the potty on her own.

  • If she wakes up before you in the morning, she can take herself to the potty if she feels that pressure sensation to go pee after holding it through the night (where time is of the essence to release it).

The other thing to consider is sometimes it isn't smooth-sailing after you see the string of dry diapers.

Your child may need your help to catch the pee once or twice in the night (especially if she's still drinking a bottle/cup close to bedtime). All signs may be pointing to your child is ready for potty training at night.

But if your toddler is still in a crib, it's tough to find success.

And it's tough on you. To help your child out to get onto the potty, you need to scoop up a sleeping toddler from the low-setting on a crib (not a great exercise for your back or abs!).

And it also sends a mixed message to your child.

I once worked with a mama whose child was potty trained in the day, but was still in nap and nighttime diapers (despite having a long string of dry diapers). And he was starting to resist her reminders to go pee in the potty and he was simply not self-initiating to take himself to go pee in the potty in the day (months after being potty trained).

And guess what happened when she went for it?

Ditched the nap and night-time pull-ups and put him in a *big boy* toddler bed?

Everything flipped!

He started self-initiating to use the potty and continued to stay dry at night.

Sometimes the key to seeing success with nights is leading your child to the expectation that they can do it.

What happened was he rose to the expectation that he IS a big kid and can do it.

It's okay to wait on potty training at night, and you want to look for some key signs to make the process easier on everyone. But one big part of the puzzle is transitioning your child from the crib to the toddler bed.

Without that switch from the crib to the toddler bed, ditching the pull-ups at night is a hard thing to do.

Now, what about the rascals being able to roam free at night in a toddler bed? You'll want to prep your space for that freedom, and maybe bring in something new and calming to make bedtime feel special.

Bedtime books help my little rascals settle into their bed. Here are a few of our favorites.

2. Yawn

Illustrations: Citrus and Mint Designs


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