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Little boy sitting on a bay window in his bedroom

Your little one is growing – and growing fast – and it’s time start wrapping your head around the idea of swapping out your child’s crib for a “big kid’s bed.” This can be an emotional time for parents and kids alike, so it’s important to be prepared for the transition.

There’s so much to consider when refurnishing your child’s room. Will they accept the change? Will they be safe sleeping in a bed instead of a crib? Will it be expensive?

We’re here to put your fears to bed, so to speak, with tips from home improvement and child care experts on how you can transition your child from a crib to a bed in a safe and cost-effective way.

When Is the Right Time to Transition to a Bed?

There’s no universal age when kids will be ready to move from a crib to a bed. Each child develops differently. Even from child to child, you’ll notice the age when they’re ready to transition might vary.

However, some experts suggest that a child could be ready to make the move between 18 months and 3 years old. If your child is nearing or in this age range, they might be ready to upgrade to a bed. If you’re still unsure, though, Cristina Miguélez, a Remodeling Specialist from Fixr.com, suggested a few more telltale signs:

“The best way to decide when it’s time to transition is by watching your child,” she explained. “If they are pre-verbal, watch signs such as climbing from cribs or scaling furniture. If they are verbal, speak to them about the process. Get their thoughts and feelings on the subject.”

Miguélez warned against making the transition before your child is ready, as it could cause problems with their sleeping patterns or safety.

If your child is the right age or displaying the signs mentioned above, it might be time to get your child ready for a bed. But how do you get them fully on board with the move? We’ll talk about that next.

How Do You Get the Child on Board with a Bed?

Even if your child expresses interest in moving from a crib to a bed, they still might need time to get fully on board with sleeping in a new environment. However, there are a few ways to get them excited for the change, and the first is by starting the conversation early.

In the days leading up to the change, make sure you are talking to your child about getting a new bed. Showing genuine excitement on your end will, in turn, make your child excited about the change.

Additionally, Kayla O’Neill, owner and author of Parenting Expert to Mom, said to allow your child to redesign their room based on their interests to help get them excited about the change. Let them incorporate their favorite colors, characters and toys into the room and consider changing the layout to make the room feel brand new.

“It is also important to include any toys that they have a strong attachment to,” added O’Neill.  “If it’s a baby blanket or teddy bear, let them know it will be coming to the new room as well.”

The most important thing to remember is that this transition will be emotional for both you and your child. Make sure you give enough time to discuss the change with your child so they’re fully prepared to make the change.

How Do You Safely Transition Your Child to a Bed?

Now that your child is moving from a crib to a bed, there are a few additional changes you’ll have to make beyond buying a new bed.

First, until your child gets accustomed to sleeping in a bed, install guardrails on either side of the bed to ensure they won’t fall while they’re sleeping. You can also position the bed so that one side is up against a wall, with the other protected by a guardrail.

Next, since your child will have more freedom to get in and out of bed, install gates at any stairways or rooms you want to keep them from entering during the night, like a bathroom. This will keep them safe in case they wander out of bed.

O’Neill also recommended ensuring that outlets are covered, large furniture is secured and fall-proof, and any dangling cords are secured and out of reach of curious hands.

Make sure you also provide an appropriate amount of storage space for their clothing and toys. A cluttered room could pose a danger to your little one, with scattered toys creating a tripping hazard. Miguélez recommended storage that is kid-friendly:

Pull-out tubs or bins are better at this stage than built-in shelves or niches because they’re safer and easier for young children,” she explained. “Label things well and keep them in your child’s reach to encourage independence.”

How Do You Make the Transition Cost-Effective?

Already you might be wondering how to make the transition without breaking the bank. At first, it seems like you’ll have to spend your child’s college fund to furnish their new room, but if you think strategically, there are ways you can cut down on costs.

First, you can purchase a crib that transitions into a bed from the very start, suggested O’Neill. This will save you money on purchasing a bed down the road. If you’ve already purchased a crib, you could prepare yourself for the next stage by purchasing a toddler bed that can grow as your child grows, saving you money by avoiding another upgrade in the future.

O’Neill also suggested reusing furniture from their nursey and incorporating it into their new big kid’s room. For example, she suggested repurposing your child’s changing table into a place to store crafts, supplies or toys.

Additionally, Miguélez recommended painting the room a neutral color to allow flexibility with the décor, and should you have a second child, sticking to neutrals makes swapping rooms easier and more cost-effective.

“Toddlers and young children have tastes that change frequently,” said Miguélez. “Keep the background of the room neutral, and introduce accents in the child’s favorite color, as well as colors that sit beside it on the color wheel. This gives more flexibility as they grow.”

It’s also important to remember that it’s OK to buy things secondhand to save money. Furniture like bed frames, side tables, dresser drawers and storage containers can be found at resale shops or thrift stores for a bargain. If needed, you can clean them and give them a fresh coat of paint to match the décor of your child’s room.

The only things you should definitely purchase brand new would be the mattress and any fabric materials, like bedding, pillows and blankets. You don’t want to risk the possibility of bed bugs from secondhand fabrics.

Design Ideas for a Big Kid’s Room

Now that you have an idea of when and how to make the switch, it’s time for the fun part: designing your kid’s room! Whether you’re moving your child into a new room or redesigning their current room, there are plenty of ways you can customize the space and make it appeal to your little one.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Products for transitioning rooms

  1. Toddler Bed: $90
  2. Toddler Bedding: $39 – $89
  3. White Sheep Pillow: $19
  4. Wool Stripe Throw Blanket: $25
  5. Kids Dresser: $170
  6. Sheep Throw Rug: $198 – Item Sold Out
  7. Sheep Print Wall Décor: $6
  8. Kits Teepee Cotton House: $100
  9. Floating Wall Shelves (Set of 3): $30
  10. Decorative Basket: $8

Transitioning your child from a crib to a bed can be an emotional process, but the more you prepare your little one for the move, the more confident they (and you) will be.

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