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Is It Time to Ditch the Crib?

Is It Time to Ditch the Crib?

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

This question is not drama-filled or anything, but our son turns two in a few weeks and still sleeps in a pack-n-play (because it’s the only thing that fits in his room, a walk in closet in our 1-bedroom apartment. So New York, I know…) He loves playing in it during the day but is very good about lying down and going to sleep for naps and at night and only tries to climb in during playtime. We recently acquired a toddler bed that miracle of miracles will fit the small space. But when do we make the transition? There’s no real “need” to do it–we’re not having another baby and he hasn’t climbed out yet. But I worry that he seems cramped in there and, honestly, are a little excited about letting him have a “real” bed (he sleeps on a cot at school already and they say he’s good about it). Anyway, should we just defer our excitement til later and keep him in his crib forever? I know Ike was still in his crib after he was 2…is your general advice to stay with that as long as you can? Is your advice different for a 2-year old sleeping in a pack-n-play??


Oh, HOORAY. A question with absolutely no drama AND absolutely no real right/wrong answer. Nobody will yell at me! Thanks for the softball, friend.

I really have no “general advice” regarding toddler bed transitions because it’s totally different for every kid — and every household/real estate situation. If there’s another baby on the way and you need the crib, punt that firstborn out a few months before and feel no guilt. They will be fine. If there’s nobody waiting in line for the crib and your toddler isn’t climbing/falling out (or if you simply have come to depend on the extra confinement time in the morning), keep ’em in the crib for as long as you want. They will also be fine.

And finally: If you have a new bed and are kinda excited to try it out, by all means, try it out. You can always go back to the crib if your kid turns into a regular Pop-Up Nighttime Explorer (testing both your patience and your child-proofing efforts), or if he just seems to sleep better/longer with the old setup.

We only went the true “toddler bed” route once, with our firstborn. Toddler beds are kind of a racket for anybody with a full-sized crib, since they don’t actually offer a child much extra room — the mattresses are usually the same size as a crib. We bought one at Ikea that was a little longer but not wider, and Noah still slept curled up tight against the wall, taking up the smallest swath of bed real estate possible. I got annoyed by the need for specially-sized sheets that I could only buy at Ikea and we donated it not long after.

For a kid in a Pack ‘n Play, however, a toddler bed will be more of an upgrade, especially since Pack ‘n Play “mattresses” aren’t really all that supportive. (Or are they? Have they improved over the years? We’ve been using the same model we purchased back in 2005, so I am ignorant of any great design leaps forward in the Pack ‘n Play universe.) On the other hand, our “he looks kinda cramped” can actually be a young toddler’s “I feel cozy and safe.” On the other, other hand, Pack ‘n Plays have a height limit of 35 inches, or once the child can climb out (whichever comes first). It doesn’t sound like he’s doing that quite yet, but don’t discount that danger just because he’s closer to the ground — a Pack ‘n Play can tip over during climb-out attempts, resulting in a scary/nasty faceplant. If you’re concerned that he’s close to trying, err on the side of caution and switch him to the bed.

Ezra (and eventually Ike) skipped the toddler bed and went straight to a “real” bed, with a removable guardrail in place at first.

And yeah, you read that right. Ike, who will be three years old in less than three months, is still in the crib. I KNOW, I KNOW. Noah and Ezra both made the transition shortly after turning two, and I never really intended to keep Ike in the crib so long, but here we are. He gets the occasional “sleepover” in his brothers’ room — our bunk beds are a twin-over-full style, so there’s more than enough room for Ezra and Ike on the bottom bunk — but sadly these sleepovers have mostly revealed that moving Ike permanently out of the crib will be a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS. In the crib, he’ll sleep in until almost 9 a.m. on the weekends. On our busy chaotic weekdays, the crib lets us get everybody else ready (including ourselves) before dealing with our family’s neediest, most helpless member. Naps are dang near four hours long. He’s never, ever climbed out, or even attempted to.

In the bed, however…he’s up at 5 freaking a.m. He’s in our room, pushing on our eyelids. He’s flushing things down the toilet. He’s going downstairs and trying to scale chairs to get at the Cheerios. IT’S AWFUL AND I HATE IT. I can’t lock their room because his brothers need to get out, he tries to climb over baby gates (or just stands there and screams at them), he completely ignores the “stay in bed until the clock changes color” rule, and thus the easiest solution has been to just stick with the crib.

(My first pediatrician was a fan of keeping toddlers in cribs for as long as humanly possible for all of these exact reasons. So I keep reminding myself of that.)

Now that he’s potty-trained, I can’t put it off any longer. His naps are getting cut short because he’s waking up to “go” and he gets upset if I don’t retrieve him in time to make to the bathroom. I think he’s close to ditching the nighttime diaper as well, provided we just give the poor child access to a toilet.

So I guess that’s one more check in the “pro” column for you: Make the transition because you want to, and because you’re excited about the next big-kid milestone, rather than waiting so long you’re only doing it because you absolutely have to, kicking and screaming all the way.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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