13 answers

When Is It Time to Switch to a "Big Girl Bed"?

My sister in lawjust gave us a dora bed because her daughter outgrew it. My daughter will be 3 in February. We set the bed up in her room and also left the crib. (the mattress fits both) My daughter shows interest in sleeping in the bed, but the first night, she kept getting up and coming out of her room saying she didn't want to go to sleep anymore. I firmly told her that she wasn't allowed to get out of bed and she had to go to sleep. After the 2nd time I told her she'd be going back in her crib if she didn't stay in bed. She then said she wanted to sleep in her crib. now she says she wants to sleep in the bed, so i get it all set up and then as soon as i'm about to leave the room so she can sleep she cries and says she wants to sleep in her crib. Should I push the issue and tell her that its one or the other, or let her pick the right time to switch? She can't climb out of her crib (more like hasn't figured out that she CAN) so its not really a problem for her to stay in it. But some of my friends are saying she's too old for the crib. I'm at a loss for what to do. I really don't feel like switching the mattress back and forth every night!! Any advice is greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

If she wants to sleep in her crib, let her. Move the Dora bed out of her room and tell her it will be moved back when she is ready.

When she is "ready", take the crib out. That way she won't hav a choice.

Good luck!

More Answers

I wouldn't sweat the fact that your daughter wants to sleep in her crib. If she hasn't figured out that she can get out of it, don't worry. Kids give up their baby things at different ages, and as long as there isn't another baby waiting to use the crib, let her stay in it. when she realizes that she can get out of it, or falls out,(like my kids did) then address the issue of going to the "big girl bed". My grand daughter used to climb out of her crib,so my son took down her crib, put a regular twin bed in her room, bought her new princess bedding, and never had a problem. she was 2 1/2 years old at the time.
If you make a big deal of buying her new bedding and making her feel like she is a big girl, then she might like that idea, and be more receptive to staying in the bed.
Or, just take down the crib, out of sight, out of mind. It might work. Kids are a treasure, arent' they? Good luck with the transition.

Three year olds just love to make their mommies jump through hoops! I don't think there is a specific age cutoff for cribs. As long as she isn't climbing out, I think it is OK, but if you want her in the bed yoiu are going to have to take the crib out of the room altogether. They sometimes get up a few times the first few nights, but you would be surprised how quickly they get used to it. Good Luck!

Hi R.,
I wouldn't listen to your friends. You know your daughter best. I have two sons, one that wil be turning 5 and one that is three. My almost 5 year old was only in his crib until he was one in a half, and thats because he hated his crib. And you can tell when they are comfortable. My 3 year old ( turned three this past April), he was in his crib until just last weekend as a matter a fact. And I only took him out of his crib because he was showing intrest in his bigger brothers bed. And he's fine with the toddler bed.
I would suggest that you either take the crib down and don't give her the choice between the two( I think that confuses them more), or just keep her in the crib till you feel like your ready as well as her. Having both of themm in her room available to her I would think make her undecisive, don't you?
Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with the transition and just remember to do whats in your families best intrest, not someone elses. Besides, there is no set rules saying that this is a pattern every parent has to follow with their kids.

Take care,

Most people have already addressed the comfort level thing, but if she shows an interest in the bed at all (which she does) I would perhaps do up a Big Girl Party. Take the crib down in the morning, set up a "party" and do some big girl activites, invite friends/family over to celebrate. Perhaps get one of those indoor fort/tent things like this and set it up in place of the crib http://www.allaboardtoys.com/disney-princess-playhut-beau... This way she gets to play all day in the new fort/tent. and will forget all about her crib. heck, she can even sleep in the fort if she has an issue with her bed.

My daughter is about to turn three as well (and I have a 5.5 year old also) so I know just the stage you are dealing with! At this age, they really love to feel as though they are in charge of their little worlds. So a way to foster that, without making life to unreasonable for you in the middle of the night, is to put her in charge of choosing which to sleep in BEFORE she goes to bed. Let her know that either the bed or crib is o.k. for her to sleep in and she can choose either before bedtime, but once she goes to bed, that is the one she needs stay in all night. Reminder her that she can change her mind and choose the other one the next night if she wants, but once she goes to bed she needs to stay there for the night. You might have a couple of nights where she wants to change her mind mid-way through, but if you stick to her guns and lovingly usher her back to the bed (without engaging in a negotiation or lots of discussion other than reminding her that it was her choice and tomorrow night she can choose the other), she will eventually get that you mean what you say and will stop trying to talk you into changing in the middle of the night. You could also make a "Bravery award" out of colorful paper and stickers that she could earn on the nights that she sleeps in her big girl bed all night without fussing. You could talk to her in the daytime about how you understand that change is hard, and that you think she's ready but that you are going to let her do it at her own pace when she feels comfortable.

Good luck!

You dont mention how long the dora bed has been in her room. But I should think its been there a week or more if you are writing about it.
So, she has had time to get used to the idea..the dora beds have little side rails, yes?
She feels safe and comfortable in her crib seems to be the problem.
I am sure you have had the "big girl now" talk with her.
I would simply take the crib down and put it away.
If she gets out of bed put her back in as many times as it takes. You will be tired for a few days, maybe even a week or more but persist.
The first time you put her back into her bed tell her this is where she must sleep now. After the first time, no words...just return her to her room and bed. As many times as it takes for her to stay there. NO WORDS.
Be paitient, gentle, reassure her you will be right where you always are. Tell her she is three now and big girls sleep in beds just like Mummy and Daddy do, that it is time for her to sleep in a bed.
You may have some fussing at first but with a tincture of time it will pass.
Best wishes and God bless
Grandmother Lowell

My daughter switched to a toddler bed when she was 18 months old. I had to have surgery and couldn't lift her in/out of the crib. All it took was napping beside her (one afternoon) and she was fine with it. I just told her the crib was "broken." However, if your daughter prefers the crib, there's nothing wrong with that. Good luck.

Hi R.,

As long as your daughter isn't climbing out of the crib I don't think she's too old or too big to stay in it if she's fine with it. If you'd like her to use the bed more so than the crib, maybe you could show her a calendar and let her 'X' off the days until the crib comes down. My daughter was 2 yrs. when she got her first calendar and to this day (she's 7) loves to mark off days until a special occasion. Good luck!!!

My daughter moved to a twin sized bed when she was almost 3 years old. We had bed rails and because she also moved to a new (bigger) room, I think she was ok with it. On the other hand ... my son was climbing out of his crib at around 17 or 18 months and then roming through the house on his own. (I leave for work early before he gets up and my husband was usually in the shower getting ready for work). We got him a race car toddler bed and left the crib up for a week. He had no interest in the crib any longer, but he did have the issue of coming out of his room on his own. We put a child proof doorknob on his bedroom door so he couldn't get out by himself anymore - He finally realized that he couldn't make a game out of nap time and bedtime anymore and he is sleeping so well now!!!

Best of luck w/whatever you decide. Let us know how everything worked out!

the time to "switch" really depends on the family and situation. if you are ok with her being in a crib, then don't worry about what other people think. but as far as keeping the crib up, probably defeating the purpose. you are giving her the opportunity to choose. i was only a few months pregnant when i took the crib down completely for my then 2 1/2 year old and put her in a normal twin bed(trying to eliminate another transition down the road). i didn't want her to associate losing the crib to the baby, so i did it far in advance. she did great. never asked for the crib. out of sight, out of mind. we had a few nights of getting out, but it's to be expected. it's newfound freedom. it will pass. i did however put a gate at her bedroom door so that if she got up, she could not leave her room and fall downstairs/come in our room..etc. it works well and a year later at 3 1/2 we still use the gate and the crib is back up with our 5 month old sharing a room with her..no problems. actually thinking back, it was really funny and cute but we sometimes would go to bed ourselves late at night and peek in on her and she would be sleeping on the floor in front of her bookcase with a book open on her chest. we would just laugh. good luck in what you decide. but if you take it down completely i think you will have less of a fight than you think. we just got rid of the binky two weeks ago and i was agonizing over it...she's fine. i wondered why i waited so long after all!! haha.

I am having the same problem! Only my sitatuion is that my daughter has to move out of the crib, because we are having another baby. I actually have a bunk bed that she is content with having her bottle in, but not sleeping in, because she gets up and thinks that its play time... (my daughter is 19 months!!!) so I know its early, but It has to be done. If you end up hearing any great advice, let me know!!! Because I am completely exhausted from being pregnant, and chasing her around when she comes out, then switching all of her bedding every night. I have tried sleeping in there with her, and she won't stay put. Anyways, thanks!!!!

When they climb out of their crib. My oldest was in a bed at a year because he was climbing out of his crib. People these days are in such a hurry for their kids to grow up. My grandma said her kids slept in cirbs much longer than what kids to do today. If she's comfortable in her crib let her sleep in it better than up down up down at night and everyone ending up tired in the morning. When she is ready you will know.

If she wants to sleep in her crib, let her. Move the Dora bed out of her room and tell her it will be moved back when she is ready.

When she is "ready", take the crib out. That way she won't hav a choice.

Good luck!


Each child is unique...I would try to make her "big girl bed" really special. Place her bed in her room and let her nap in it with her nursery blankets or something she really loves. Read her stories in the bed and spend some quality downtime letting her get comfortable with it. If you are looking for any special bedding or artwork to make her "big girl bed" fun take a peek at my website www.bumblebug.com. I also have Mama Perks on the site that you can redeem for 10% off.

Good luck!


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