Whether your toddler loves her crib or is eager to jump out of it at the first opportunity, at some point, she'll be ready to graduate to a big-kid bed. When is the best time to make the transition, and how can you do it smoothly and safely? Here are suggestions from the experts.
Unlike some developmental milestones of early childhood, such as learning to use the potty or starting solids, the move from crib to bed doesn't involve a checklist of signs indicating that your child is ready. The one overriding concern is safety. As a general rule, parents should move a baby from a crib to a bed before he is able to climb out of it on his own and possibly hurt himself, says Mark Widome, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Most toddlers have the ability to hop over the crib rail when they are about 35 inches tall and between 18 and 24 months of age. Of course, some babies are particularly agile and will attempt to climb out sooner (at which point they should be moved to a bed), while less adventurous types will not try to climb out at all. If your toddler is comfortable in his crib and not a climber, then it's okay to let him sleep there past the age of 2 -- just as long as you're mindful of his safety, says Jack Walsh, executive director of the Danny Foundation, an organization dedicated to crib and child-product safety. But the longer a baby stays in his crib, Walsh adds, the more emotionally attached to it he may become and the harder it may be for him to make the transition.