Is your toddler old enough for a bed?

My daughter is 16 months old and can easily climb out of her crib and does many times a night. I figure the crib is no longer doing it's job at this point, but she still seems too young for a big bed. How do you know when to put your toddler in a bed?

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Generally, I advise switching from a crib to a regular bed at two to two and a half years. At this age, the child is usually tall enough to climb out of the crib even when the mattress is placed at it's lowest setting.

There is no way you can make your crib climb-proof, and in fact, I encourage you not to try. Making it difficult to climb out of a crib when a child has the ability to to do so only puts the child at risk for injury.

I agree that 16 months seems young to go to a regular bed, but if your daughter is easily climbing out of the crib, then you're right, it's no longer doing it's job. There aren't any specific milestones that a child need to reach in order to go to a bed. Remember, the only reason you got the crib in the first place was to protect your baby from injury while sleeping. There isn't anything special about the crib once the baby gets older and can climb out. So, I suggest you switch to a regular bed.

Since your daughter is younger (although certainly quite mobile), I suggest you get a bed that is low to the ground. One way to do this is just put the box springs and mattress right on the floor. If you go with a regular bed frame that puts the mattress higher above the ground, I suggest you purchase a portable guard rail so that she doesn't fall out of bed while sleeping.

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