Before your baby’s birth, you worked tirelessly to create a safe sleeping space for your child to slumber. However, it is amazing how quickly they reach the milestone of needing their big kid bed! Thankfully, if you want to convert their crib to a toddler bed, this process is extremely easy! It also lengthens the amount of time you can use this very expensive item.
When to Convert a Crib to a Toddler Bed
The security of a crib is hard to beat. You know that when you lay your sweet little baby down for a nap they will remain in a safe environment. Unfortunately though, once your child reaches 35 inches tall or the top rail of the crib is less than three-fourths of their height (or lines up under their nipples), this “guarantee” starts to disappear. It is when they reach this size that they are able to climb, or potentially flip, out of the bed.
Thus, at the many pediatrician appointments you have scheduled throughout the year, it is important to pay attention to this number. The need to move to a toddler bed can occur as early as fifteen months of age or as late as three years of age. Depending on the time your child reaches this height, it can bring on a number of hurdles. Thankfully, there are some simple steps to make this changeover and protect your child after you go to sleep.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
If you were a proactive parent, you likely purchased a convertible crib. This makes the transition to a toddler bed quite simple. For the parents, who didn’t splurge on the big-ticket multi-use item, don’t fret! Most crib manufacturers make conversion kits that allow for an easy change over to big kid land. Just check on your crib brand’s website to find the option that is right for you!
The main item that you will need to purchase is a guardrail. This is a much shorter railing that allows your child to get in and out of bed without assistance. It also prevents them from rolling off the bed in their sleep.
There are a variety of styles and depending on your preferences, you can install one on either side of the front end of the crib allowing for a small escape hatch in the center of the sleeping space or you can just add just one longer attachment to create an easier method of exiting the bed. The latter option is more ideal for older kids who are less likely to wiggle around throughout the crib space.
The only other item you will need to locate is the tool that you used to initially construct this furniture piece. This is likely an allen key or hex key, but some cribs still use a basic screwdriver.
Step 2: Deconstruct The Crib
The next step in this process is to remove the front railing of the crib. Everything else should remain in place, assuming that you already had the crib on the lowest spring frame or mattress setting. If this was not the case, you likely have a little bit longer time frame before you have to convert the crib to a toddler bed.
Then, remove the mattress and any bedding that is currently in place. Make sure to double-check that all of the original screws are appropriately tightened.
Step 3: Reconstruct The Toddler Bed
In place of the front railing, you will position either a single or double guardrail. Check that all of the screws and bolts are properly secured. If the guardrail comes with additional instructions, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Finally, place the crib mattress back in the slot, and voila! You are done!
Important Things to Consider
Timing Of The Move
When it comes to kids, you want to avoid throwing more than one big curveball at them at a time. Therefore, pick a window to shift to the new sleeping arrangements when there are no other big changes occurring. If they are potty training, teething, or feeling under the weather it is best to wait.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This transition is not just a big moment, but also a safety matter. Thus, you want to prioritize this move over other changes.
Your Child’s Safety
We all know to cover the electrical outlets and lock up our cabinets and toilets, but there are a lot of others dangers lurking around the house. Here are the top things to consider securing before you convert your child’s crib to a toddler bed:
Prior to the moment that your child has the ability to be more mobile at night, it is imperative that you fully baby-proof their room. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Between 2000 and 2018, 556 deaths were caused by tip-overs, and of these tip-over deaths, 83% were children ages 0-17. Children also accounted for 46% of all tip-over injuries, and the majority of children’s tip-over injuries and fatalities were children ages 1-4”.
This is a terrifying statistic. Thankfully, having a good offense is the best defense so be proactive before the move! Make sure to securely anchor all furniture to the walls, whether or not they seem capable of tipping over. While it may seem improbable, there is a reason you study physics in school. The right amount of weight placed at the perfect angle can lead to a tragedy. It is always better to over-prepare when it comes to your child.
Decor & Window Treatments
Additionally, try to remember that less is more. Ensure that anything that you had placed on the surfaces of their dresser, changing table, desk, or any other furniture pieces is out of reach. Lamps should be removed unless you can guarantee that your toddler does not have access to the cord. Moreover, blind strings and drapes seem like harmless items until a child plays with them in the wrong way. While you may love the decor that you have adorned your child’s nursery with, until they are old enough, ensure that these items are out of reach, or out of the room.
Bedding & Sleepwear
If your child’s transition to their big kid bed occurs prior to the age of two, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends not using a pillow. Once they reach this milestone, look for options that are firm and small. Moreover, blankets are not necessary items until at least the age of eighteen months. Thus, dress your child in snug-fitting cotton clothing. This will keep them warm without posing any suffocation hazards.
For the advanced kids who have already figured out how to work the door handles, wandering can be a worry. This can lead to unsupervised movement around the house. Experts recommend placing a baby gate within the frame of the door to help keep your little one contained. This is exceptionally important if your child’s room is located upstairs.
For those living in a one-story home, consider, at minimum, placing a bell or a child door motion sensor on their door handle to help alert you to an escapee! It is also advised that parents start using a baby monitor. This will help you to keep a closer eye on their toddler’s movements.
FAQs – How To Convert Crib To Toddler Bed
How long will this transition take?
Once the toddler bed is constructed, expect your child to take anywhere between two weeks to a month to get used to the new space and the need to stay in it at night. It should be no surprise that for the first few days, they will struggle with remaining in bed when you first put them down.
For those parents who are worried about them tumbling out of the bed during this transition period, consider laying out fluffy blankets or pillows in the area where a fall may occur.
How do I make the transition to a toddler bed easier?
First and foremost, stick to a schedule. Moreover, make sure that they stay busy and active during their awake times. These two simple steps will help to ensure that they are sleepy when naps and bedtimes come along. Additionally, they are more likely to stay in bed, instead of trying to rejoin the party once the lights go out!
Furthermore, get them excited about this big change! Let them know that they are going to be in a big boy or big girl bed now! Have them help in the selection of their bedding. Moreover, let them pick out a new set of pajamas for the big night! However, it is also important to make sure that they understand that in order to keep this cool new bed, they need to stay in it at night unless there is an emergency.
Besides safety, is there another reason to make the move to a toddler bed?
If you intend to potty train early, a toddler bed is essential. If your child cannot get up in the night to go potty, then accidents will happen and it will hinder their progress. Of course, make sure that your child is ready for potty training first and has ample time to adjust to the toddler bed before working on this new skill. Additionally, if you intend to potty train soon after the toddler bed makes its debut, take the time to buy a waterproof cover for the mattress to help with accidents that may occur during night training.
Moving your child to a toddler bed can be a terrifying experience if you do not take the right precautions. Safety is imperative so take the time to ensure that their room is completely baby-proofed before making this big move. Then, find ways to keep them contained in their room, if they try to make a break for it!
Finally, for those parents who are concerned that the transition is coming too soon, consider flipping your crib around! By placing the shorter side of the crib against the wall, you can elongate the time in between this big switch and the introduction to freedom.