The Benefits of Keeping Your Kids in Their Crib Longer

Not ready for a big kid bed? That’s OK! Here’s why the crib is still great for toddlers.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: g&l images

g&l images

Moving your little one from their crib to a toddler bed can be filled with a lot of emotions. There’s excitement because this is a big milestone, but also some sadness because your baby is growing up. It can also be nerve wracking because your little one may wake up a lot during the night and find some early morning freedom that means a lot less sleep for you. Maybe you’re rethinking saying bye bye to the crib, but is it OK to keep your child in their crib a little longer? The short answer is yes.

If you ask other parents or do a quick Google search of when you should move a toddler to a bed, you’ll find lots of different answers. Some will suggest 18 months is a good time to graduate to a bed, but kids as old as four are still cozy in their crib.

While many parents try to make the transition before their toddler turns two, one study found that keeping your toddler in their crib until the age of three or longer meant the toddler slept longer, woke up less throughout the night, and they were less likely to fight bedtime.

Honestly, as a parent, there is nothing that can make your heart stop faster than being woken up by a toddler staring at you by the side of your bed.

All of those reasons may have you thinking that keeping the crib is the way to go, but here are also good reasons to move your child to a bed:

  • They are potty trained and need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
  • They are climbing out of the crib and it’s no longer safe for them to be left alone in their crib.
  • You are expecting a new baby and need the crib for your newborn.
  • Your child is excited for a big kid bed and can verbalize they want to make the move.

What are some signs your toddler is NOT ready for a bed?

  • Your toddler already has sleep issues (falling asleep/staying asleep).
  • There are big changes happening in their life and another big change would be too much for them to manage. For example, a new sibling is coming very soon, a move to a new home, a change in the family dynamic, or a recent illness.
  • Your toddler will leave their room and wander through the house.
  • They are content in their crib.

Here’s a side note on the new sibling and getting kicked out of the crib. If you need to move your toddler out of the crib, then you’ll want to prepare them a few months before the baby arrives. Read books about sleeping in a big kid bed, take them shopping to find new bedding, and make the move prior to the baby’s arrival to avoid confusion or rushed transitions.

It’s also important to note that no matter what age you’ll be making the move, talk to your child about what is happening and make them a part of the process. This will help make the transition easier on everyone. The first few nights may be rough, but they will get the hang of it. So, don’t try the transition right before a big event that you need to be well-rested for.

Still torn over bed or crib? First, talk to your pediatrician and see what they recommend. Then, make a decision based on all the information you have and what will work best for you, your toddler, and your nighttime routines. Because you need a good night’s sleep just as much as your little one, there’s no magic age to make the move and it really is what works best for you and your family.


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