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Movin' on up: to a "big kid" bed

For those mamas who have already been through this, Courtney would love your insight:

What about “big kid beds”?  Assuming your kid slept/sleeps in a crib - How old was s/he when they moved up to the big kid bed? What was the motivation to move them, esp. without another kid that needs the crib? Can they just stay in the crib for as long as they fit? Do they need to move when they are toilet trained and need to go potty at night? When they asked (whined) enough?  Did you go with toddler bed with crib mattress?  Twin?  Full?  Bunk?  Best place to purchase any of the options?

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We transitioned our 1st at 2...b/c he asked so many times! We started by taking the front off the crib and putting up a rail so it was a big kid bed but still familiar...that lasted all of 2 months before he wanted a real bed. We went for bunk beds (we have a 2nd boy as well so it seemed like a good idea for the future) and he LOVES the bunk thing! I think he feels more secure with the top bed over him as well....but we kept the rail on it until he was about 3.5....he probably didn't need it as much but i felt safer....
We only had 1 time he seemed to "fall out of bed" but he was only a foot or so off the ground and he thought it was funny...i didn't but he was fine! I did put pillows on the floor for a month after that in case....but he seemed to just learn how to position his body and be in a big bed....
Our 2nd is 2 now and no chance of him coming out of the crib yet....so it depends on the child and when they are emotionally ready for that big leap....
As far as a place to shop we searched everywhere and bunk beds can be pricey....over $1k for some nicer ones...we went with IKEA and found a great set (not the mattress....bought that separate) for about $350...which in retrospect seems like a smart purchase as they now inevitably have crayon marks, stickers and who knows what else one them....
I think i was more nervous than my son was when we made the initial transition but seeing him so proud, almost empowered in a big kid bed was also really cool...
good luck!

Both kids were around 2. Both fell out of their cribs which scared me and told me it was time. Of course, we hyped up the whole "big kid bed" aspect and they transitioned really easily. I bought Ella's bed frame off Craigslist and painted it, made it fun and funky. It fits her and she loves it. Bought a new mattress. We got Jack a bed and mattress from Ikea and we are really pleased with that as well. Just a foam mattress. It's kind of thin, I kept saying to them, but it's thin.. they kept saying but he's two... They were right, the foam is super dense and he's really comfortable. The timing felt very comfortable and easy. I'd say it shouldn't feel like a push.

When I got rid of my sons crib I bought him a Twin bed , which he looked at with scorn : "momma its too small". Since he co-slept with us a great deal he was used to a King. If I was going to do it again I would have bought him a queen. He would have had it longer and it would do in a pinch for sleepovers in the short term. Or if mom falls asleep after story...

actually now that I think about it I did buy a "toddler bed" used (new mattress) after the crib but (this is kind of embarrassing to admit) I sat on it funny and broke it- which my son pointed out. Then came the Twin bed. Wow I had totally forgotten about that bed!

Our son figured out how to climb out of his crib around 18-20 months so we took the side rail off and he slept in it that way until he was about 2.5 when he went directly to a twin. He fell out the first night...we heard a bid thud but no crying, went upstairs and he was sound asleep on the floor next to his bed! He has not fallen out since. It was a much easier transition than I'd expected, no big deal really.

My son mastered crawling out of the crib early, and once he busted his lip, the front of the crib came off and I put up a rail. This allowed him to adjust, while also allowing himto get out of his crib safely. This worked for about 6mths and around age 2, I bought a full size bed as this coincided with a move. The bed is big enough that he doesn't roll off, although I laid pillows on the side until he became used to it.

When my oldest was 2 and a few months we had a terrible ice storm and could not get out of the house for almost a week. So, we decided to try to convert her crib to a toddler bed. A day later we switched in back since she was not ready. She was almost three before it was time. She then went into a twin that we got from neighbors. This year for her sixth birthday we got her bunk beds (she really wanted them) and we got them off of Craigslist.

My youngest is 2 and a few months now and I don't see her giving up the crib anytime soon. She has sensory issues and loves to have a blanket over part of the crib to create a tent like feel.

Unless you have a kid that will climb and create a dangerous situation I would stick with the crib as long as you can. It is safe and they are contained - which means it is harder for them to wander after you put them to bed.

We took the side off of Eli's crib (which he had never slept in), when he was about 15 months old--incidentally, when I was about 3 months pregnant with Gideon. I figured Gideon would be sleeping in our bed, and I wanted to transition Eli to his own bed WAY before Gideon arrived so that Eli didn't feel displaced by the baby. (And, of course, after all that Gideon turned out to be a crib-sleeper...go figure.)

I put a ton of pillows and stuffed animals on the floor next to Eli's bed when he first started sleeping in it. One rather large teddy bear was placed between Eli and the edge of the bed--I thought it would be kinda like rolling into Mom or Dad when he was sleeping. Apparently not, as he fell out one night anyway. He didn't really care, and he wasn't hurt.

Eli was always a long kid, so he didn't fit in the crib-turned-toddler-bed for too long, and we soon upgraded to a twin bed. It was cute, with a bookcase as a headboard, from Pottery Barn, maybe, or C&B (thanks Grandma!).

Of course, by the time Gideon was about 20 months old, the in-laws wanted to get in on the bed-buying action, and got the boys one of those bunk beds with a built-in desk, dresser and bookcase, which we are still using now--about 2 years later.

Dad-in-law was quite astounded/annoyed when he saw the multitude of crayon marks and stickers on the bunks, which is probably a hazard of having any kids, not just mine (I think). So if it were me shelling out the money, I wouldn't have spent nearly as much on the bed frame, and would have upgraded the mattresses and bought waterproof sheets for them, because, let's face it, markers aren't the only accidents kids have with beds.

Timely post! My daughter is 19 months old and has coslept with us in a Queen from the beginning. I've been thinking of transitioning her to her own bed but don't feel she's quite ready. Sounds like trusting your instincts is the way to go and the child will let you know when he/she is ready.

Even before we decided to have a second child, we knew we'd be getting a bunk bed when the time came. For sleepovers and other guests and because, hey - who doesn't like sleeping on the top bunk? Or tucking a blanket around and making a cave of the bottom bunk

Our son moved into it shortly before he turned three - before that, he'd been sleeping on his crib mattress in an alcove of our room. We did use a bed rail for the first couple of months.

He has a small room, so we chose the smallest bunk bed Ikea sells. It's nice and compact, solid wood. We bought futon mattresses for it at Cotton Cloud

we've bought all of our kids' furniture (twin bed, bunk beds, dressers) at the Natural Unfinished Furniture Store on NE Broadway. Great, solid wood products that can be customized.

we started out with mattress + box spring on the floor, then moved to "real" beds.

they've all fallen out of bed so many times...none seem traumatized...it's just a loud thump, usually a scream, the sound of rushing parent feet, a cuddle, a kiss, and back to sleep.

a much bigger problem, however, is how to get them to STAY in that bed ;)

Neither of my boys were what I would consider crib sleepers. We abandoned them pretty early on and just put our mattress on the floor and pushed a crib mattress up against it. Our first transitioned pretty quickly to the mattress on the floor in his room (with a rail) and then I picked up a toddler bed to get him off the floor. He loved it. When the second was about a year old we put him in the toddler bed pushed up next to ours, so it has the rail on one side and our bed on the other. It took a little work when they figured out they could easily get out of bed, but really not much since it was always an option for them as they didn't have the crib. Now we're ready for the bunkbed and no kids in our room! Can you say tax stimlus?! I'm a little worried about the almost 4 year old on top as he still gets up at night and comes into our room, but we're working on it so he won't be falling down the ladder in the middle of the night. Good to know about the stickers and what not. My husband is thinking about getting something that will last and I'm thinking something that's going to get beat up. I'll direct him here!

I took the side off of my daugher's crib a couple of months ago when she was 2 and a half, and it was back on within 24 hours. She protested, but I think she was secretely relieved to have it back. She has never climbed out of the crib and I don't think she ever will. I have no other baby on the way for now, and I also have a really good friend who stayed in her crib until she was 5, then only came out because her mom had a new baby, and she was broken hearted! But I decided, I don't know why, that she is getting a big girl bed for her 3rd birthday in July. I think it's because she gets up so early and I am constantly having to decide if I should get her up, bring her to bed with me, etc, so maybe she can start to make up her own mind. I am kind of dreading it, because I think bed and nap time will be a nightmare, so I am starting to work with her now about getting prepared for the big day. Any suggestions would be helpful! I am going to go for a twin, since her room is really small and we have sloped ceilings. I'm thinking Dora sheets will be helpful. She is very excited even though I am not sure she quite understands what is about to happen. I am playing it up that it's all coming down on her birthday! I am actually postponing preschool for a month because I am worried about too many transitions at once. Am I making too much out of this???

Just as soon as I hit send just a minute ago, my daughter called down to me that she had to go potty. So yes, that does seem to be another factor in the going to a big-girl bed issue!

I love this site exactly for these kinds of posts.

I have a 20 mo. old that has been a GREAT crib sleeper pretty much all her life. I don't see her pushing to get out of the crib too soon but I have a few questions for when she is ready.

1) I had no idea you could even take the crib side off, let alone buy a guard rail to replace it. Can anyone give me more information on this?

2) At as young as two, how DO you get them to stay in bed at bedtime/naptime? Most of the posts have said the transistion was fairly smooth but is that just the toddler adjusting to SLEEPING in the big kid bed, or was it pretty easy to get them to GO TO SLEEP in the big kid bed?

When we moved overseas briefly last year, my son was 23 months and we rented a furnished place....rather than shlep our crib to the new place, we just took a full size mattress and put it on the floor of his room. He loved it, and it quickly became a great reading space/snuggle space for us all. One caveat: he's not the kind of kid who gets up and roams around the house getting into trouble; when he wakes up in the morning, he rolls out of bed and comes looking for us. The transition might not have been so easy otherwise. But for us, it worked and he still sleeps on a mattress on the floor.


Good luck!

Like some others, we did the mattress on the floor thing and it was great. When we got a standard single, we just added one of those easily removable toddler bars on the side that wasn't pushed up against the wall. Like most parenting things in our house, it wasn't planned, just happened upon it and it worked. love that.

We too put a matress on the floor. We co-slept 'til our son was about one, then we took the queen-sized guest bed we already had and placed it on the floor of his room. Money is tight and this was the easiest, most economical solution for us. He's nearly three now and this has worked great for us.

i have 2 boys who share a room, so i got toddler beds to save on space...but it didn't save too much, and we couldn't sit or lay on them (broke one), and no storage space underneath. i found a bunk bed on craigslist for $100 and they love it. they are now 3 and 4yo.

I moved my 2-1/2 year old into a toddler bed a week ago. One of her little friends just switched to a toddler bed a month ago and when my daughter saw it she started asking for one. Then she started pointing out kids in books who were sleeping in "big girl beds" and pointing out that her dolls sleep in "big girl beds." I was planning to wait until she was closer to 3 but she seemed ready so we went for it.

The toddler bed was passed on from friends, but came from IKEA (that's where I'd buy one - that or Craigslist). I tried to recreate her crib as much as I could: same mattress, sheets, comforter, animals + put it in the same place her crib was. I put it together while she was at preschool and she was SO excited when she got home. I made sure to talk about how great big girl beds are for a few days beforehand.

She did not nap for the first few days and came out of her room before I was even down the stairs. She would crash at night though since she was so tired. Since she was coming of her room so much I put a gate in her doorway at nap time. That helped a bit but she still did not sleep. So on day 3 I started sitting outside her door and when she opened it I would not say anything and hardly looked at her, but picked her up and put her back in bed. I only had to sit there for about 20 minutes (I am still amazed!). Now she almost always stays in bed. I cannot believe it.

I did put a rail on the side (one of those ones that tucks under the mattress) for my own peace of mind after the second night. She didn't fall out, but I keep waking up worrying that she would. Silly, but I am sleeping better now.

This is great info. My son is getting close to 2, but hasn't tried to escape. If anyone reads this far, I have a couple of other questions:

1. When did your kid start using a pillow (full sized or small)?
2. If your kid slept on a mat at daycare did the transition go similarly at home as it did there? They just put him on a mat at daycare and he lays on it for three hours straight whether or not he sleeps (never tries to get up). I wonder if this will translate to a bed as well or if he will be roaming around the room at home.

We got a convertible crib that goes to the front being removed to a double sized bed, not sure if we will use this or put the next kid in this same crib.

Meliah, here's what I did to teach them to sleep in their own bed. Like I said, they weren't in cribs already so I didn't have that to deal with, but once they stopped nursing to sleep and had to go to sleep on their own in their bed, they realized they could just get right up. So, I broke it down into little steps of teaching them how to do it. First off, I stayed in their room on the floor next to the bed for awhile until they fell asleep until they got that concept. This can be a drag because it can take a LONG time for a kid to fall asleep! But, I would have spent the same length of time putting them back in bed, so I figured it wasn't a big deal. Put on a book on tape so it's not wasted time for you and the noise helps lull them to sleep. Anyway, once they oculd stay in bed with me there, I moved out. We then started with learning to stay in the room. So, they would get out and come find us, back they would go. I put them in bed and said "you stay in your room." That would lead to crying at the bedroom door, which then got all kinds of praise for staying in the room, but then put back in bed with "you stay in your bed." Eventually they got it. We also used "when you're quiet I'll come in and sing a song" once they got staying in bed. The second they were quiet I was in there. As they got better at it, they had to be quiet for a couple of minutes. And they always had a tape to listen to or a toy to play with. Mine take a car or two to bed instead of a stuffed animal! Anyway, maybe a month's process? I can imagine some folks rolling their eyes and saying "no way!" but I'm not a cry it out person so needed this gentle transition for all of us. Might not be for everyone. I really like the book "The No Cry Sleep Solution." There's one for babies and one for toddlers/preschoolers.

Good luck with it.

We moved my daughter from crib to handed-down toddler bed around age 2 (in preparation for upcoming trip, if I remember correctly) and it all went really well for a few weeks. Then suddenly she started getting out of bed/taking forever to fall asleep, so we put her back in the crib for a few more months. When we tried the toddler bed again months later, we talked it up lots (and by then she really wanted a big girl bed), made clear the rule was that she had to stay in bed or else go back in the crib (we left it up in her room), and that second time the switch was no problem. She slept in the toddler bed until she became nearly as long as the bed, then moved to a twin. That move was a piece of cake: she already knew how to sleep in a "regular" bed and she loved the fun new sheets. We do use a bed rail for peace of mind (that twin bed is high off the ground!) and because she seems to love to sleep on the edge of the bed, wedged against it.

When we first started putting Eli in his own bed, DH or I (or, usually both) would sit on his bed with him, rubbing his back until he fell asleep. If we tried to sneak out and he wasn't *completely* asleep, he'd bounce right out of bed, and we'd repeat the process again.

Sometimes, this would take FOREVER.

We tried letting him cry it out. This was horrible...the kid was used to sleeping in our bed, and never had to cry it out before. None of us knew what to do--that's what I get for thinking those baby books knew better than I did.

We tried putting a baby gate up at his door, thinking perhaps he'd just turn around and get back in his bed. Ha! He stood there and screamed so loud you could hear it from the street.

It was actually around this time, though, that we started to cut out naptime. Once the naps were completely out of the picture, Eli had no problem falling asleep. (When he was still napping, he'd sleep for a total of 15-16 hours/day--I guess it was just too much sleep for him. Post-napping, until now--age 5--he sleeps about 12 hours.)

Meg--as far as the pillow situation: When we moved Eli to his own bed, we gave him a small pillow, which he hated. He liked the full-size pillows from our bed, so we gave him one. He actually didn't use it as a pillow, I think it was more of a cuddle-toy to him. It wasn't until he was about 3-ish that he started really sleeping on the pillow.

We got our little one a big boy bed for his second birthday! Wow, he was excited! We bought a twin bed + all the bedding from IKEA. It is a platform bed. The bed is adjustable so we are able to put the bed about a foot off the floor now. Later we will move it up to a 4'/bunk height with space below. It comes with this blue starred tent thing that goes on top.

The transition was easy. One time we did threaten a night sleeping in the pack-n-play if he got out of bed. He has not escaped since & has been happily sleeping in his cool new big boy bed for a month and a half.

He fell out of bed about 4 days after he started sleeping in it. I came into the room and he had just hopped right back into bed and was pulling the covers up. It was pretty cute. no crying. We have since put a body pillow under the blankets on the 'open' side of the bed & it has kept him put.

I was nervous about transitioning but I'm happy to be rid of the crib.

We got our little one a big boy bed for his second birthday! Wow, he was excited! We bought a twin bed + all the bedding from IKEA. It is a platform bed. The bed is adjustable so we are able to put the bed about a foot off the floor now. Later we will move it up to a 4'/bunk height with space below. It comes with this blue starred tent thing that goes on top.

The transition was easy. One time we did threaten a night sleeping in the pack-n-play if he got out of bed. He has not escaped since & has been happily sleeping in his cool new big boy bed for a month and a half.

He fell out of bed about 4 days after he started sleeping in it. I came into the room and he had just hopped right back into bed and was pulling the covers up. It was pretty cute. no crying. We have since put a body pillow under the blankets on the 'open' side of the bed & it has kept him put.

I was nervous about transitioning but I'm happy to be rid of the crib.

We co-slept until age 2 1/2 or so in a queen bed that originally had a co-sleeper attached to the side of it (he grew out of that as a baby), then replacing the cosleeper with a bed rail. We were never able to put him in a crib (Too bad we spent all that money on a nice one. We used it only for diaper changes.) as he would literally fling himself OUT OF IT and onto the floor far below. Horrifying. So we did a transition to a twin mattress on the floor of his room over a period of months between about 2- 2 1/2 or so. It was pretty smooth, overall, and who cares if you fall off a mattress that's directly on the floor? That is still his bed at age 4 1/2, and it is fabulous for crazy jumping on. We're thinking of getting a full-size bed and frame for him just so it's more comfortable for US at bedtime reading and snuggles--and for storage space under the bed. : )

Sorry to take so long to reply. I did end up with the one with the innerspring and find it to be very comfortable (yes I spend a lot of time on it myself!). We had a standard mattress that came with the crib for a couple of weeks and when the organic mattress finally arrived I was amazed at the difference. It is very comfortable.

Sorry to take so long to reply. I did end up with the one with the innerspring and find it to be very comfortable (yes I spend a lot of time on it myself!). We had a standard mattress that came with the crib for a couple of weeks and when the organic mattress finally arrived I was amazed at the difference. It is very comfortable.

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