Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed is a significant milestone in a child’s life and can be a daunting experience for parents and toddlers alike. But, with careful planning and patience, this transition can be a smooth and positive experience.

Strategies for a Smooth Toddler Bed Transition

According to, it’s important to help your toddler feel comfortable in their new bed before making it a place to sleep at night. You could, for example, use it as a place for your child to play quietly or as a spot for napping. 

The site recommends making up stories about sleeping in a big bed or reading books on the topic. You could ask a children’s librarian for book recommendations; they might include A Big Kid Bed is Coming! by Liz Fletcher. In it, Louie the brave elephant makes the switch, demonstrating how to transition to a toddler bed in fun and rhyming ways.

You can also make your own toddler bed book using colored construction paper, a hole punch, and a loose-leaf binder. Your child can help decorate the cover of the book that you could title Four Rules of Happy Sleep. Suggested rules include washing hands, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas before feeling as “snug as a bug in bed.”

Continue to incrementally introduce the bed to your toddler, keeping familiar stuffed animals in the environment and maintaining bedtime routines. also offers tips on how to transition to a toddler bed, which include giving your toddler opportunities for empowerment as long as they follow the ground rules that you establish about bedtime. When you give toddlers a bit of control, they won’t feel powerless as you guide them into their new bed. 

Repetition is important with toddlers, so you may need to repeat the rules and present them in easy-to-understand charts: perhaps ones with pictures about bathtime, brushing teeth, story time, getting into bed, and saying goodnight. You could use stickers to reinforce the routine as your toddler completes tasks.

After you know how to transition to a toddler bed, you’ll need to focus on keeping your toddler in bed. You may decide to put a baby gate in front of the bedroom door; this creates a boundary without locking the door. 

As far as wake-up time, consider using a clock that’s specially designed for toddlers, changing colors when it’s time to get out of bed. Or, you might want to get a digital clock and teach your child what number must show up on their clock—say, 7:00—that tells them it’s okay to get up and prepare for the new day.

Horizon Education Centers’ Toddler Program

Horizon’s toddler program will support your child in developmentally appropriate ways to prepare them for preschool and help them to develop valuable life skills. We focus on cognitive development, self-help skills, social and emotional development, language and literacy skills, physical health, and more. We invite you to explore Horizon today!

Horizon Education Centers offer child care for toddlers at its Lorain and Cuyahoga County locations in Cleveland, Ohio.