The move to a toddler bed is a pretty big deal for both parents and toddlers. It can be scary for a child who is used to feeling the comfortable environment of a crib. Every parent knows that toddlers need to feel relaxed and safe to get a good night’s sleep. So choosing the right toddler bed is critical to easing this transition. Picking the best toddler bed for your individual needs will help the entire family sleep better at night.
Why Purchase a Toddler Bed?
A toddler bed bridges the gap between a crib and a grown-up bed. These beds are small and usually reuse a crib mattress. They are low to the ground which is safer and easier for a child to climb in and out of.
When to Purchase A Toddler Bed?
A child will most likely need to move onto a toddler bed by the age of three. The average age is two but a tall or extremely active child will likely need to move on earlier. Other factors, like the arrival of a new sibling, might also speed up the process. However, if your child is attempting to climb out or if he has successfully escaped, then it is definitely time to move on to a toddler bed.
Some convertible cribs convert into a toddler bed. If you have one of these, you are all set to make the change. However you might need to purchase a conversion rail kit. Be sure to purchase the correct one for your crib model.
Toddler Beds vs Regular Beds
A toddler bed is an ideal solution for most parents. However, some parents will want to use a regular twin bed with portable safety rails instead. It’s up to each family to decide what option is best. So how do you choose? We made a list of the pros and con’s of each option:
Toddler Bed Pros:
- Toddler beds are low to the ground, which makes them easier to get in and out of.
- Safety rails are usually included.
- Playful designs and motifs make your child excited to go to bed.
- Most toddler beds are quite affordable. They usually accept a crib mattress and include safety rails so that you don’t need to purchase these extras.
- Most toddler beds can reuse a crib mattress.
- Toddler beds are smaller than regular beds so they work well in small spaces.
- Since a toddler bed comes with safety rails and includes a mattress, they are the more economical choice.
Toddler Bed Cons:
-Most toddler beds have a weight limit of about 50 pounds which will prevent Mom and Dad from hopping in for a cuddle.
- Toddler beds might not be as durable as a regular bed.
- Toddler beds are used for a limited period of time.
- Since they are low to the ground, your child might be more likely to get up in the middle of the night.
Regular Bed Pros:
- You can use twin mattress for years to come.
- Weight restrictions are not an issue.
- Some bed frames feature kid-friendly designs or motifs which can help the smooth the transition to a big kid bed.
Regular Bed Cons:
- A twin bed might initially be scary for a young child.
- You will have to buy safety rails separately. Be sure to buy ones that fit correctly.
- A twin bed is more costly. You will need to buy a mattress, bed frame and portable safety rails for any side of the bed that is not up against a wall. This adds up to be considerably more than the cost of a toddler bed.
- A regular bed can be too high for a toddler to climb in and out of.
Toddler Bed Safety Features: What To Look For
Safety is the top priority for any parent and it’s the number one factor you should consider when choosing a toddler bed.
Choose a sturdy toddler bed. Your toddler is likely to be active and so are their friends and siblings. It’s usually worth it to spend a little more for a durable bed. Always choose toddler beds that are smoothly finished with rounded edges and hardware that doesn’t protrude. Fancy carved details or cut-outs can pose a potential hazard.
If you assemble the bed yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure all the screws and bolts are properly tightened. Even after you have properly assembled your toddler bed, you will want to check it over every so often to make sure that everything is still secure.
Whether you are reusing your crib mattress or not, you will want to double check that your mattress fits the new bed correctly. If it doesn’t, then you will need to purchase a new one of the same size. Gaps between the mattress and frame can pose a safety hazard.
Check that your bed includes safety rails. If it doesn’t, you will need to purchase toddler bed rails separately. Portable safety rails should have the JPMA certification sticker on them (note: this safety standard does not apply to a regular twin bed). Purchase mesh safety rails if your toddler tosses and turns while sleeping. Steel or wood rails should be fine if your child is less active. Make sure they fit the bed properly without any gaps and that they sit about two inches above the bed.
Now that you’ve taken your toddler bed home, where do you put it? It’s ideal to set it up in the same location as the crib to help to ease the transition. You will also want to place the toddler bed far from windows, doors or any cords from blinds or draperies. If you are placing the bed against a wall, make sure it sits snugly. A child can become entrapped in even a small gap between the bed and the wall.
Toddler Bed Buying Tips:
- Buy a toddler bed that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty for peace of mind.
- Know what is included with your purchase! This will help to keep you on budget and will prevent any surprises later on.
- If you can, try to evaluate the assembly required for your toddler bed. A good way to do this is to read product reviews or opinions on the assembly process. That will usually give you a pretty good idea of the tools needed, the time required and if you’ll need help.
- If budget is a major concern, don’t fret! Today’s toddler beds are all subject to the same high safety standards. A cheap toddler bed will be just as safe as an expensive one.
A Note on Used Toddler Beds:
Whether you have inherited a toddler bed or found something great at a garage sale, the first thing you will want to do is the check the recall list. Child furniture safety standards are more stringent than they have ever been. New furniture will meet the guidelines but older furniture might not. (Check out consumerreports.org for recall information.)
You will also want to ensure that your bed has been finished with a non-toxic paint or stain. Again, all new furnishings will be safe but if you are using a hand-me-down or used crib you will want to double check. Many toddlers still chew on surfaces and lead is poisonous. If you are unsure, consider refinishing the toddler bed with a non-toxic low VOC paint.
Toddler Bed Styles and Finishes
Just like with cribs, there are many unique toddler bed designs available today. Choose between wood, metal or plastic toddler beds. This is a great time to show some personality. Thrill your little one with a toddler bed for boys shaped like a race car or indulge your daughter with a princess toddler bed for girls. If you prefer something more classic, choose something with Shaker or Mission style styling.
The options for toddler beds are almost limitless so feel free to indulge the whims of your little one. However, if you are planning to reuse the bed for future siblings, it might be a wise idea to pick a classic bed rather than a novelty bed. Your future daughter might not be as thrilled with a Thomas & Friends toddler bed as your son was.
If you need extra storage, consider a toddler bed with under the bed storage drawers. Some toddler beds have an optional trundle bed which is great if your child has friends or siblings that sleep over.
Tips on Making the Transition to a Toddler Bed
Get your child excited by involving them with the selection of their new bed. By choosing a cool toddler bed you improve your chances of getting your child interested in sleeping in it.
Set up the bed a few days or weeks before you begin to use it. This gives your child time to check out the bed and to become accustomed to it. Ease the transition into the new bed by using it for naps during the day first before using it for night-time sleeping. Reuse as many accessories, toys and bedding from the crib as you can to create a familiar space. Put the toddler bed in the same position as the crib if possible.
Avoid making the transition to a big kid bed during a stressful time (like during potty training or starting at a new daycare). If you are moving your child to make way for a new sibling, try introducing the toddler bed a few months before the new baby’s arrival. -One major change at a time is plenty and you don’t want your child to feel evicted by his or her new sibling.
If you or your child is still concerned about falling, try placing some cushions or pillow along the open side of the bed. They may not be needed but they will offer peace of mind.
The move to a big kid bed is a milestone for both parent and child. However, it can also be a stressful time. Rushing your child can create separation anxiety. Make the transition easier by choosing a toddler bed that you and your toddler both love.