Crib Tales: When to Convert from Crib to Toddler Bed


When it comes to shopping for nursery furnishings, many parents look to make an investment in the future. They want furniture that will grow with the child, and that also includes the crib. Having the ability to convert baby’s crib into a toddler bed and then later, a day bed and full sized day bed comes in handy as babies seem to morph into toddlers in an instant.

So if you had the foresight to purchase a crib that will grow with your child, how do you know the right time to convert to toddler bed? We checked in with some of our favorite experts and read up on the topic recently. All agree that it’s a combination of factors. First, most feel the average appropriate time (keep in mind this is just an average) might be between 18 months and 3 years of years. More important than age, however, is whether the toddler is showing signs of climbing out of the crib himself (i.e., sticking toes over the railing, stacking toys inside the crib to form steps or simply hauling himself across the rail.) You can waste some time checking out great baby escapes on YouTube here.

Of course child safety is key here, and if you are concerned your child could climb out, it is time to take out the allen wrench.

But what if the child doesn’t exhibit any signs of trying to climb out of the crib? What if your child is very happy in the crib, even though she’s clearly a toddler and not a baby? Must you make the move?

Here are some words from baby and child development experts:

“If your toddler is comfortable in his crib and not a climber, then it’s okay to let him her sleep there past the age of 2 – - just as long as you’re mindful of his her safety,” said Jack Walsh, executive director of the Danny Foundation, an organization dedicated to crib and child-product safety, to American Baby magazine . “But the longer a baby stays in his her crib, the most emotionally attached to it he she may become and the harder it may be for him her to make the transition.”

Meanwhile, according to Deborah Lin-Dyken, pediatric sleep disorders expert who wrote on the topic for Baby Center, “you’ll need to move your toddler to a bed when he’s simply too big or too active to sleep in a crib anymore. And once he’s potty-trained, he’ll need to be able to get out of the bed to use the toilet.”

However, unlike some of the other experts in the field, Lin-Dyken doesn’t recommend rushing to convert the crib into a toddler bed the day after a child attempts to climb out. In fact, similar to other major milestones in a child’s life, she says it is best to take a more gradual approach to help ease the transition from crib to toddler bed.

“He may not be ready to move to a bed, and it may not be safe for him to be up and about during the night when everyone else is asleep.”

Still not sure? Don’t be afraid to ask your child whether she is ready for a “Big Kid” bed! According to Heidi Murkoff, bestselling author of the successful What to Expect Series,

“if your child is excited about the change, you can remove (or convert) the crib right away … If your toddler’s life is already chock-full of change (i.e. new baby brother or sister, new school, weaning, toilet training) wait before introducing the big-kid bed. This should be an exciting transition for everyone, not one that’s overwhelming or scary.”

Like with most aspects of parenting, there is no one right answer for everyone. The right time to convert your crib to toddler bed is when you believe the time is right. You’ve made it this far and if you are lucky, you might even be catching some zzzs at night. So go ahead and convert when you feel the time is right, after consulting with the pediatrician if you are not sure.

Are you considering converting your child’s crib to a toddler bed? Is your child exhibiting signs that he/she’s ready for a toddler bed? Is your child already of the age but showing no signs whatsoever that he/she’s ready to leave the crib? Comment below and let us know!

Helpful tip: When buying your crib, make sure you also purchase the bedrails for the toddler bed at the very same time! This will make the need for a quick conversion easy since you’ll have all the parts already in your home! Check out our Facebook photo album for images of cribs converted to toddler beds here.


  1. Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I liked this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

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