Your child is graduating to a big kid bed, and it has you a bit nervous. That's perfectly normal. It's a big transition. If you have some fears about your child making the change, here are some tips for choosing the right kind of toddler bed to make it easier on everyone.
What's the Best Age to Put a Toddler in a Bed?
The ultimate question remains, is your child ready? It's tough to say because every kid is different. It's up to you and your child to determine when it's right.
However, most children make the transition between 18 months and 2 years. Some might go earlier and some later. There's no right answer.
If your child is ambitious and dextrous enough to attempt climbing the crib rails, it's a good indicator that he's ready to make the switch now. He's exploring his abilities and he may relish the additional freedom of a toddler bed.
That doesn't mean he'll crawl out of a toddler bed every night. It's quite the opposite. While some children do have trouble transitioning, the vast majority simply like the idea of freedom and don't take advantage of it nearly as much as you might think.
Is a Convertible Crib a Good Idea?
This question should have probably been answered before your baby was born. If your crib doesn't convert and your child is ready to move up, you can't do much but cry over spilt milk (no pun intended) and buy a brand new bed.
If, however, you're one of those parents who like to plan ahead and you're furnishing a nursery for your newborn, do get a convertible crib, which is a crib that converts to a toddler bed by taking off the front rails.
The benefit to doing it this way is that your child will already be familiar with the set up. It's the same bed they've always slept in with the same comfy mattress. The transition may be easier for everyone because the bed doesn't have to move, the configuration of the bedroom doesn't have to change, and your child will be able to make the change to a bigger bed more gradually.
This is by far the most affordable solution, too, because you don't need new rails or a new mattress. The only thing you may need is an adjustable rail to keep them from falling out.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Toddler Beds?
If you've worn out your crib, you're saving it for the next baby, or you simply want to get this big change over with, consider buying a brand new toddler bed.
Toddler beds help ease the transition because they use the same size mattress as your crib, so you can just move that mattress over. If you need a new mattress, they're still cheaper than a twin size.
Plus, toddler beds are designed low to the ground so your little one can get in and out easily. If they do fall, the impact will scare them more than it will hurt them. Once again, there are plenty of options to keep them from falling out.
While you'll spend more on a toddler bed than you will converting your crib, it's worth it for the huge variety of options that will get your kid excited about their new sleeping adventures. From race car beds to pirate ships, bedtime just got a whole lot more fun for everyone!
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, too. Toddler beds typically come with a 50 pound weight limit, which means your kid will outgrow it pretty fast. Plus, you won't be able to cuddle with your tot for a bedtime story.
Also, novelty beds are usually crafted from plastic, which doesn't make them particularly durable.
Can a Toddler Move Straight to a Twin Bed?
If you're really committed to making this transition happen quickly, you can go straight to a twin bed. The advantage here is that this bed will last until your child goes away to college, and maybe even longer.
Moving to a twin bed is more of a financial commitment. Bed frames, box springs, and mattresses all cost more than either one of the other solutions. However, investing in something of quality means you can skip the added toddler bed step and save money in the long run.
How Do I Keep My Child From Falling Out?
Change is scary, and this is perhaps the scariest part of moving to a toddler bed. However, many toddler beds are made with built-in rails to protect your child from those dreaded midnight tumbles.
These rails are only a foot or two long and extend from the headboard down the sides of the bed. They're also shorter in height than crib sides, so it eases the transition with a familiar design while keeping them safe.
If you opt for a toddler bed without side rails or a twin bed, you can purchase additional rails that slide in under your child's mattress and can be removed once your child is used to their new sleeping arrangements.
Some crafty parents have even taken to sliding pool noodles under their child's sheets so when they roll, the bump on the edge of the bed stops them from falling. This is both clever and functional, without any unsightly rails or spending a fortune.
What Are Some Other Safety Considerations for Toddler Beds?
Make sure the bed has no sharp corners or protruding hardware that may pose threat while your kid hops in and out of bed.
Consider getting a toddler bed with a GREENGUARD Gold Certifation. This way you will ensure the bed has been tested for thousands of potentially hazardous chemicals and meets strict standards set for kids' furniture.
Look for The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification sticker on the packaging.
Make sure the frame holds a standard-size crib mattress. Gaps between the frame and the mattress pose an entrapment hazard.
No matter which option you choose, there are plenty of ways to ensure a smooth transition. Choosing the right time to transition to a toddler bed and which one is right for your child is a personal decision that only you and your child can make together. Buying a toddler bed is an exciting milestone for you and your family, so embrace the change and make it a time for your child to feel special. Your encouragement is what will make this change easier for your child.