Crib Tent vs. Toddler Bed

Crib Tent vs. Toddler Bed

With Hollie’s latest post about the Crib Tent, it got me thinking about a Crib Tent vs. toddler bed discussion I witnessed on Facebook not too long ago.

Facebook is notorious for parenting comments… and sometime (un)wanted advice. I try to bite my tongue or offer up what WE did or what worked for US but inevitably someone either starts a debate or puts in their (pushy) two cents. I would rather answer a question when I’m asked about a specific thing or, like I said, mention what we did as a form of support. That is kind of the backhanded point of Facebook updates, right?

A little while ago, a friend of mine mentioned her 2-year-old had climbed (rather had climbed and fallen) out of his crib. Someone laughed and said sorry, another mom mentioned the Crib Tent… to which I replied, “Yes! Crib Tent! Life saver”. Shortly after that, another response came through “time to move him out of the crib”.  My first response was to bite my tongue. Unless the person saying that lives with the family (which I doubt is the case) how would you know what the toddler is ready for?

MY kids have not been ready at (just barely) two years old to comprehend what bedtime means. Now, before you jump down my throat, if your mom instinct tells you that your child is ready or you have no other choice (like if a new baby needs the crib), I totally get it. I’m just saying that I prefer to keep my kids in their crib until we both feel ready.

My first son transitioned with ease. He was around 3.5 when we converted his crib into a toddler bed. Around 4, he started sleeping in a big boy bed and understood the meaning of bedtime. There was never a struggle, learning curve or problem with his sleeping patterns.
My second son started climbing his crib right after my third son was born (gotta love the Jenny Lind style cribs- they give climbers extra leverage!). He was barely 2 at the time. I was not emotionally, mentally or physically prepared to go through days and nights of a mischievous toddler busting out of his room at all hours and possibly waking his sleeping newborn baby brother… in the next room. I also knew deep down that he was not ready for the big transition to a toddler or regular bed. A few things led me to those feelings- for one, he’s very small and I had seen his reaction to lying on his big brother’s bed, he was scared of the big open space. He also didn’t know what to do. He had all this freedom and exploring a dark room was way more exciting than trying to fall asleep.

His crib tent was not a jail; it never was and never will be. I listened to his cues and we have changed things up based on where we are both most comfortable- he slept in the bed with me for months, next to my bed for months, in his own crib, then in the same crib but in a new room (to make room for baby brother). I feel like he has transitioned nicely with each step and his sleep patterns have not been affected by any of the changes. Ever. He’s a wonderful sleeper! In fact, all my kids are. I’ve never pushed them into a sleeping situation they aren’t comfortable with or not ready for and I honestly believe that has a lot to do with their sleeping habits. But that’s my kids and me.

A few months ago, my second son (at almost 3.5) was still in his crib, with the crib tent. My husband and I started to feel that he might be ready so we tried, every once in a while, to see if he wanted to make the switch. The two times we really tried, he climbed out of his big boy bed (a twin bed that is close to the floor with a double bed rail), and scaled the outside wall of his crib. We watched him on the video monitor, it was quite funny. So he preferred the crib. He also got a proper amount of sleep and was a much happier kid because of it. We didn’t push it any further.

A few weeks ago, we saw even more signs that he was ready and perhaps the crib tent was becoming a crutch. We bought him a toddler-sized pillow, a train pillow case and train sheets; We made his big boy bed a safe and comfortable place for him. Now that the baby is no longer a baby is older and sleeping through the night and sleep seems to be consistent, now that we all felt comfortable and like we were at a place to make the switch, we tried it again. And? it worked! We were all ready, but most importantly he was ready, and the transition went smoothly.

How old was your child when he or she transitioned to a toddler (or big kid) bed? What were/are your struggles?


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Christina lives in San Diego with her husband, 3 boys and her favorite coffee cup. Christina is a trained Montessori teacher with early childhood education and also has experience in the children’s fashion world as a business owner. While in the children's industry, Christina realized how important it was to research, be ‘in the know’ and one step ahead of the game with the latest and greatest baby gear, toys, clothing and accessories which naturally continued once she became a mom in 2002. Since the birth of her first son, Christina has become a reliable and trustworthy resource to friends, family and other parents on various parenting topics.


  1. Wait, I thought crib tents were recalled? Am I missing something or confused?

    Btw, I really love this article. My daughter climbed out at 1 and everyone was being pushy and told me to put her in a bed. I thought that was the stupidest idea ever. Let’s just give her the house keys while we’re at it so she can truly have the run of the house without any supervision! Any way, she’s 2 now and still climbs out sometimes. Never at night (yet). Only at naptime so far. We watch her and just keep putting her back. If crib tents are safe, I’m so glad to find out! She is so not ready/mature enough for a bed!

  2. My daughter was in her toddler bed at 13 months too, she hated her crib and I was scared she wouldnt like her bed either, so we went to BRUS and she picked the dora bed, and she’s been sleeping great ever since (shes now 27 mos).
    On the other hand I still remember sleeping in my crib when I was 4 years old, LOL. Every child is different.

  3. My daughter was in her toddler bed at 13 months. She was as big as a 2 year old and slept exceptionally better once we switched her. She hated her crib as soon as she could sit up. SHe would scream and jump and I felt like she was going to break something. She never did, but I personally dont like bed tents. Its all about your family and how you want to do things in your family!

  4. Our son could climb (and fall) out of his crib at 1 year. All my friends suggested moving him into a bed which I did not fell he was ready for. The tent has been a lifesaver. He is 2 and I am considering converting the crib to a bed. Worst case I guess I can put the walls back up.

  5. Hm… I agree wholeheartedly! But, my eldest showed signs of being ready earlier than your 3.5 year old… How do you deal with potty-training a kiddo in a crib? Thanks!

  6. Kiley, we felt it was best to wait (when transitioning to a bed) till he was really showing signs rather than backtrack and put the crib back up.

  7. Melissa, it totally depends on the child; There’s no magical age. My 1st and 2nd were/are completely different kids but they happen to transition around the same age (although my 1st went to a toddler bed/crib conversion) at 3.5 not into a big boy (twin) bed.
    Potty training also plays a part in all of this. My 1st wasn’t night trained until after the age of 4. My 2nd isn’t potty trained at all. While potty training, you can always try a baby monitor (if you use a crib tent) but then you might get the “I have to go pee” but they’ve figured out how to get your attention 😉 That’s the tricky part.

  8. This is too funny. I can remember when Big Bud made the switch. He thought it was so cool that he could get up whenever he wanted…..meaning at all hours of the night! I came into the kitchen in the middle of the night one time for a glass of water, only to find him rummaging for a snack…go figure! (he was 3) He still is and probably always will be a night owl : )


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