21 Month Old - Is It Time for Toddler Bed?

Updated on October 17, 2008
D.D. asks from Anchorage, AK
12 answers

I have a wonderful 21 month old little girl and am pregnant with my second child. I am just wondering when to try switching to a toddler bed from a crib. We have been having waking issues during the night, sometimes as much as ever few hours other nights once or twice. I would love any and all suggestions or situations that others have found with their little ones. On the waking during night issue, I have tried going in and consoling her but have found that causes her to cry longer. Thanks~

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answers from Seattle on

We switched to a toddler bed when my daughter was 20 months. Because we are expecting #2 by her 2nd birthday. We put a twin mattress in the corner of her room to reduce area she could roll off. No real issues. She still wakes at night, but we have no more difficulty putting her back to sleep in a bed than in a crib.
Added bonus she is too short to open her door so she can't leave her room to find us.

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answers from Portland on

Hi D.! When we had our second child, we started the toddler bed transition at about 6 mo. into the pregnancy. It gave us plenty of time to transition her, and make sure she was ready before we put her into the toddler bed. We took off the side of the crib, and lowered the mattress, and made it into a makeshift toddler bed, then put the actual toddler bed in her room, and let her knopw it was her "big girl bed" ready for her to sleep in whenever she was ready. One night probably 2 months into the process, she decided to sleep in her "big girl bed" and she never went back to the other, and from that point on, I put the crib back together and got it ready for the new baby, so that she wasn't tampted to go back. It worked pretty well. They were sharing a room...maybe this won't be the case for you...which would be even easier, then the crib would be in the other room! Good luck to you!



answers from Portland on

We moved to a toddler bed when I was pregnant with my second and couldn't get the first one out of the crib any more. I would say no need to rush it, move them when you have to. If they are safe in their crib (not climbing out) and you can get them in and out with out wrenching your back while trying to work around a pregnant belly, then why bother. As far as the crying, maybe it's night terrors. Definitely go in, make sure she is ok. Maybe don't console, just check on her and then leave. If it is a night terror you could be interrupting her and making the situation more distressful, because she's not even really awake.



answers from Anchorage on

Do whatever you feel is right. I have read some of the responses saying to keep kids in cribs until 5?!? My boys are 3 and 4, and have bunk beds. I moved my oldest to t toddler bed at 15 months since I was pregnant with my second. He did great! so we moved my second at about 16 months so we could give the crib to a friend that was expecting. He also did great. They both fell asleep on the floor the first few nights and had to be put back in bed, but after waking up in the bed a few mornings they figured it out.

Best of luck with your new arrival!



answers from Portland on

I switched my son to a toddler bed at about this age. The signs for me were: Strong enough to climb out of the crib (only a matter of time), and independence to do things on his own. Our crib has a toddler rail, so first we used that as a transition. Warning: we had to restructure everything in his room now he had free reign, and nap times were more difficult as first (too much excitement for having access to his room). Then I purchased a new bedroom set, a twin bed with a trundle. So I transitioned him to his twin size bed IN the trundle near the floor first. I left the crib with the toddler rail so that he could choose. It became very evident that there was no turning back, and my son prefered the twin bed (so I disassembled and removed crib). After a month or so, I assembled the rest of the bed frame and installed the safety rails. I also purchased a new comforter from Bed Bath & Beyond that has microfiber on one side and really soft cuddly fabric on the other (similar to his existing crib size blankets). The comforter is perfect! He sleeps through the night and does NOT get repeatedly in and out of bed. I must say that he sleeps better in his bed than in the trundle, as I think sleeping lower to the floor was too much distraction. However, it gave me confidence to know that he would not roll over onto the floor, and as we did not use a top sheet, it slept like in the crib. I recommend that you watch the signs for readiness. Some children move to beds sooner than others. However, definitely do not want to move too soon. Also, be prepared for some bumps in the road during transition time. At one point we reassembled the crib for nap time, and determined my son really didn't care where he slept...If he didn't want to sleep, then he wasn't going to sleep! Once he figured out how to open doors, we added a childproof door knob cover on the inside of his door.

Some children sleep better once out of the crib (not so confined). Others like the security. My recommendation is to not rush it. If your daughter is not ready, your new baby can sleep in a basinet for the time being. Also, once the baby is born, it may serve as a nice transition for your daugher to move on to a "big girl" bed so the "baby" can have the crib. At this point, you can make a big deal about it (but I would wait until your daughter adjusts to the new family member). Good luck.

Regarding waking during the night, we were always very aware of his types of cries. If it was blood curdling, then we went into his room right away. Once his foot was stuck in the rails of the crib! If it was light crying, we would leave him alone. If he cried more that 5-10 minutes or it got progressively worse so that he was so worked up and would never go back to sleep on his own, then we would go into his room - without picking him up or turning on the light - and tuck him back in. We also have a lullaby CD that we play each night as he falls asleep as a part of the routine. So if he if woke during the night and we had to go into his room, we would turn on the CD again. Best wishes.



answers from Spokane on

If your new baby is going to use the same crib I would make the transition right away, my children were 22 months apart and I didn't put my older son in the big boy bed until my youngest was ready for the crib, both my babies slept with us for the first 6 months, it was very difficult for my older son to give up "his" crib to his baby brother, had we handled the move earlier, he would have probably forgotten that was ever his crib and not felt that once again the new baby was getting something that he felt was his. This seems like it just happened, and now they are 13 and 11, time does go quickly, enjoy every day.



answers from Seattle on

Is your toddler climbing out of the crib? Our pediatrician advised that unless the child is climbing out of the crib, keep them in the crib as long as possible. Cribs go to 5 years of age....



answers from Bellingham on

Kids are amazing they adapt to anything. I let my daughter take her daytime naps in the toddler bed and crib at night for a week or two. just so that when she woke up (in the daytime) she saw the floor and eventually got used to that. it made it easy to put her in the toddler bed at night and she wasn't scared if she woke up in the dark.
No matter what you do you child will adapt.. go with your "gut feeling"
Happy sleeping :-)



answers from Seattle on

We moved our oldest to a regular-sized bed when the second child was born. (They are just over 2-years apart.) We prepared him for the move as almost a right of passage, that when his sister came, he would then be a big brother and big brothers slept in a bigger bed, and he could very generously give his little bed to his sister. He was so excited when it happened.

We went to a regular-sized bed for a few reasons. Money (so we didn't have to buy yet another bed two years later); so that if he slept elsewhere like a hotel or at his aunt's house the regular-sized bed at the other place wouldn't be as intimidating; and because we didn't want to have to get all the special bedding that comes with getting a toddler bed. We bought a portable side rail and it held our child in just fine (he was all over the bed when he slept) and we could break the rail down and easily take it to other places like Grandma's.

Before we moved to the "big boy bed", we had him sleep one night with the mattress on the floor -- against a wall with the rail on the other side. We did this just in case he fell out. There were no issues and the next night he was in the big bed with all his stuffed animal friends to keep him company. We had no problems.

We did the exact same practice with his sister on her 2-year birthday. Moved her to the "big girl bed" and it also went smoothly.



answers from Seattle on

If she's not crawling out of the crib, enjoy it as long as you can. Once you switch to a bed, they are out & way more mobile! Maybe cut her nap shorter if she's waking up at night. If she's waking up every few hours, have you checked her ears? My kids did that when they had an ear infection - laying down made it hurt more...



answers from Portland on

It is time for a toddler bed if she is climbing out of the crib, which presents a safety risk. Until then, keep her in the crib. The move to a bed is not always easy -- lots of night waking, and also a safety risk if the child wakes at night and wanders around the house. The older they are, the easier and safer it is to make the transition.

Our son started climbing out of the crib at 2 1/2 year and that is when we moved him to a twin sized mattress on the floor. Our children are 22 months apart, so they were both in cribs for 8 months. We were fortunate to be able to borrow a 2nd crib from our neighbor.



answers from Seattle on

My personal opinion is that toddler beds are a way for an industry to make more money.

(My goodness....didn't they just look TINY in the crib when they were first here in the world? Much smaller then a toddler in a twin. Also, who doesn't look at some huge, luxurious, 10zillion dollar king size bed and and get a little quickening in their heart? And yet for some reason, someone decided that new mum's would be marketable if they hinted that there was something out their for the loves of their lives that they didn't get for them? "Choosy Mom's choose..." "If you want the best for your baby...", "For those parents who demand the best..." It's ironic. Even typing those words I start getting all faklempt. But I'M choosy, I WANT THE BEST....aaaaargh. Hormones. I blame hormones.)

It's also ironic that the kids' bed used to be just that: singular. And often the biggest bed in the house.

All that said:

We went from the crib to a double bed. Not because we're planning on having two or three little ones in it at a time, but because:
a) it gives us room to lay down with him for storytime/nightmares/reading under the blankets/etc.
b) to give him more room to roll around before he'd hit the edge.

We also bought a twin that slides under it from the sleep country outlet store. 600 dollar mattress for 100. Maybe someday we'll have the spare cash to buy the trundle thing for the twin to be hidden in/roll out on...but for now, we just grab the handles on the mattress and slide it out. It served as a safety net(yet to happen, but made me feel better), keeps things from accumulating under the double, is a place for sleepovers, etc.

I DO have to admit that for awhile we tried bunk beds. Umm...my only word of advice there is in this phrase: "Potty training & negotiating ladders in the middle of the night."

Congratulations & best of Luck!

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