There is not a specific age at which every toddler should be moved from his or her crib and into a new sleeping arrangement. The best time to do this depends on factors such as temperament, height, and life situations, which vary from child to child. As a general rule, most parents make the switch when their little one is around 18 months to two years old.
Safety should be the first concern when deciding whether to move a toddler out of his crib. If the child is climbing out or trying to climb out of the crib, it's probably time to transition into a toddler bed. A fall from that height can be dangerous. Climbing out is a big sign of readiness that usually occurs before two years of age. Some toddlers never try to get out of their cribs on their own, however. In this case, it is recommended that they switch to a bed by the time they reach a height of 3 feet (91 cm).
Another reason why some parents move their child to a toddler bed is to free up the crib for a new baby. This works best if the transition is started a few months before the baby is due to arrive. Otherwise, the situation could foster jealousy and resentment for a new little brother or sister. It's usually not a good idea to emphasize that the toddler is giving up the crib in order to give it to the baby.
It's also best to make this transition at a time when no other major changes are occurring in the child's life. Most toddlers have slept in the same crib since shortly after birth. It has been a constant in their lives and thus a sign of security and comfort. Moving into a toddler bed is a developmental milestone that can be difficult. It may be overwhelming for a child to make this change when other stressful or uncertain situations are also happening, such as switching childcare providers, adding a new member to the family, or starting potty training.
There are some things that parents can do to make the process of switching to a toddler bed easier. One idea is to set up the bed in the room ahead of time so the child can get used to it before being expected to sleep in it. Talk to the toddler about why it's there. It also helps if a bedtime routine is already in place. The keys to a smooth transition are timing and planning ahead.