Ginger Brownies is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Home — Bedroom When it’s time to update your child’s sleeping arrangements, you can save both some time and money by learning how to change crib to toddler bed. A regular wooden crib can be easily converted to a functional bed for your kid. The simplest option is to integrate a universal guardrail. If that won’t work or if you want to board on a more advanced project, you can trim down one of the sides and make it into a toddler railing instead.
Switching to a Toddler Bed
Unlike some developmental breakthroughs of early childhood like potty training or eating solid food, transitioning from crib to bed doesn’t always come naturally. Some kids might even reject the idea of changing the bed they’re used to. As a general rule, though, parents should make the switch before their kids learn to climb out of their cribs on their own and possibly hurt themselves.
Changing a Crib to a Toddler Bed
To convert a crib to a functional toddler bed, you’ll need the following:
- Convertible crib
- Universal toddler guardrail
- 4 Phillips-head screws, 1 inch (2.5 cm) each
- 2 metal L-brackets, 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm) each
- Phillips screwdriver
What to do:
- Choose the right toddler guardrail.You might need to purchase a separate one in case your child’s crib doesn’t come with its own guardrail. The best option to buy is a universal toddler guardrail in order to complete how to change crib to toddler bed. It’s readily available in most stores and is designed to fit the most recent models of manufactured cribs. It’s also more practical since it comes in a complete pack, with all the metal brackets and screws you’ll need. Toddler rails are essential to let your child access his bed without your help. At the same time, it prevents any accidental rolling out of bed when your child is asleep.
- Remove one side of the crib.
Remove the screws holding one side of the crib in place using a manual or electric screwdriver. Crib models vary; however, the standard ones will have a few screws on both the right and left sides of the crib posts. Remove only one side of the bed. In case you opt to remove both sides, install a guardrail on one side and push the bed against the wall. This process only works for convertible beds, since stationary cribs do not have removable sides.
- Remove your child’s bedding.
Access the bottom slats of the bed in order to install the guardrail. Thus, remove all crib beddings and the mattress prior to the transformation. You can utilize the same linens for your toddler bed since the dimensions won’t change after you convert it.
- Attach the brackets to the bed rail.
Place an L-bracket on the inside of each bedpost. Then, attach the brackets using a screwdriver and screws. Guardrails usually come complete with L-brackets and screws. However, if you need to purchase one, choose a 2-inch or 3-inch L-brackets with four mounting holes and 1-inch Phillips-head screws. Install one bracket for each bed post. The foot of the bracket should lie flat with the bottom of the post. On the other hand, the vertical portion should be aligned with the center of the guardrail post. Use two screws to secure each post.
- Position your guardrail.
Take your guardrail and position it on the bare part of the crib. Line up the end posts and the attached brackets to the separate slats located on the bottom part of the bed. Leave a 9-inch space between the rail and the headboard. Do the same as well with the footboard. By doing so, you can give your child enough space to get in and out of bed easily.
- Fix the guardrail to the bed.
Hold the rail steady and insert two screws through the holes on each bracket to the slat rolls at the base of the bed. Using two screws will give you enough security and durability. Ensure that the screws are tight and firmly hold the brackets in place. When you’re done, wiggle the bed to check if the guardrail is stable.
- Make the bed.
Once the guardrail is secured, return the mattress to the bed. Cover it with comfortable sheets, blankets, and pillows as needed. You have now completed the process on how to change crib to toddler bed. If you need or want to install another rail on the other side of the bed, just follow the same steps used for the first guardrail. Install both rails before putting in the mattress and bedding.
How to Transition your Toddler from Crib to Bed
There are no foolproof ways to transition a toddler from using a crib to a bed. Each child is uniquely different, and so are their reactions and responses as well. However, here are some simple tips, to hopefully make your transition more acceptable and smooth:
- Toddler-proof your room. Once you remove the crib bars and finish how to change crib to toddler bed, your child will have unlimited access to his room. So it’s important to make sure that your toddler will be safe when doing so. Install guardrails to keep your child safe and avoid falling off the bed when asleep.
- Talk to your child about the transition. Informing your child before you make the transition can help them prepare for the “big change.” Let them understand the need to do so to avoid negative reactions upon the reveal.
- Make the bed welcoming. Pile up all your kid’s favorite toys and throw in some cute and colorful blankets and beddings. This will make your toddler more excited and positive towards the transition.
- Don’t expect your child to accept the change overnight. It will usually take a few weeks before your toddler gets comfortable with his or her new bed. Expect rough nights and be more patient, firm, and consistent.
Transitioning and learning how to change crib to toddler bed can be an important decision you need to think through. Your toddler might reject the idea of a new bed. However, stay positive that your child will fully adjust to his new environment in a few weeks. His newfound freedom can also lead to a lot of adventures. Be ready to put your child back in bed a few times before he can finally settle. However, significant transitions should not be rushed. Observe your toddler if he is ready to adapt to change. Only then can you reap a more positive reaction and experience. Find out more about toddler beds.
Moving from a crib into a toddler bed is a major milestone in the life of a 1-, 2- or 3-year-old. Saying goodbye to the crib is one of the most monumental signs that your baby is growing into a big kid, and it can be both exciting (for her) and a little bittersweet (for you).
The exact right time to make the transition from crib to toddler bed is different for every child and family. But no matter when it happens, you’ll want to make sure that your toddler’s new sleep space is safe and secure — and that you and your little dreamer have adequately prepared for the change.
When can your child sleep in a toddler bed?
While there’s no hard-and-fast age for when to move your child to a bed, little ones generally make the switch from crib to toddler bed any time between 18 months and 3 1/2 years old, ideally as close to age 3 as possible, according to guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Moving your tot to a toddler bed or big-kid bed with rails may be on the horizon if she’s hit 35 inches in height or her crib’s side rail comes up to about mid-chest level when she’s standing in it. (Put another way, the rail should be less than three-quarters of your child’s height.) And it’s probably time to ditch the crib if your tot makes a jailbreak on a regular basis or repeatedly asks for a big-kid bed. However, if she’s still happy in the crib and isn’t climbing out, she can stay put.
Toddler bed safety tips and guidelines
Figuring out your toddler’s sleep setup probably won’t feel as overwhelming as buying and setting up her crib did (phew!). But there are still a few important safety tips to keep in mind, whether you’re buying a new toddler bed, converting her crib into a bed or moving her to a big-kid bed with rails. Continue Reading Below
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Try a convertible crib
If the crib you painstakingly researched before your baby’s arrival converts into a toddler bed, you can rest assured that your child’s sleep space will continue to meet her needs for at least another year or two. Convertible cribs are subject to the same safety standards as toddler beds and are generally designed to accommodate children up to 50 pounds.
Plus, there’s not a lot of complicated assembly in transforming them to toddler beds, though you may need some tools to do the job right. In most cases, you remove one side of the crib, replacing it with the side rail that came with the original packaging and has a small opening your tot can use to climb into and out of bed.
Get the right size bed and mattress
If you’re moving your toddler from a nonconvertible crib to a bed, you might be tempted to spring for a twin bed that will last your child for years to come. But a toddler-specific bed is a better choice. It’s lower to the ground and the mattress is smaller (no less than 51¼ inches long by 27¼ inches wide), both of which make it easier for very young children ages 15 months and up to climb in and hop out without getting hurt.
Toddler beds are also designed to be used with a full-sized crib mattress (so feel free to use the full-sized mattress from your child’s crib, if it’s still in good condition). The crib mattress should fit snugly — if you’re not sure whether it’s right, use the two-finger test. The mattress isn’t a good fit if you’re able to fit more than two fingers in between it and the bed.
Finally, remember that toddler beds are designed for children under 50 pounds. So once your child reaches that weight limit — whether it’s a year from now or two or three — it’ll be time to graduate to a twin bed.
Make sure the toddler bed comes equipped with safety rails
Safety rails serve the obvious — but still very important! — purpose of stopping your sweetie from rolling out of bed mid-snooze. Convertible cribs and toddler beds are required to have side rails at least 5 inches taller than the top of the mattress. If you’re using a bed without a built-in rail, be sure to install separate guardrails that are at least that tall.
Avoid toddler bed bumpers
Bumpers no longer pose a SIDS risk after your child’s first birthday. But they don’t really belong in your little one’s bed because they’re still not a great idea from a safety perspective — even after your child turns 1. They can be tempting for curious climbers, who might take a tumble if they try to use the bumpers as stepping stones to get out of bed. So it’s best to avoid having bumpers in your toddler’s bed entirely.
Check that the hardware is firmly secured
Whether you’re converting your crib or buying something new, a thorough safety inspection is always a good idea. Confirm that hardware like bolts and screws are firmly secured and that the sides and slats have tight, sturdy joints. Sharp edges, rough spots, or areas that could pinch your tot are also no-go’s.
Place the bed in a safe spot
Make sure your toddler’s bed is positioned away from any potential hazards that could lead to injury. Place the bed at least 2 feet from any windows, heating vents, radiators, wall lamps or window blind cords. And speaking of blind cords, it’s best to either avoid having them in your child’s bedroom completely if possible or tack them far up and out of reach.
Prepare the space for nighttime wandering
It’s not uncommon for your toddler to want to explore her room (and beyond) now that she has free rein to get in and out of bed as she pleases. So before her first night sans crib, review the babyproofing basics to make sure the space is safe: Anchor furniture in your toddler’s room to the wall, cover exposed electrical sockets, install childproof latches on chests of drawers, and move any potentially hazardous objects (like cords or tall lamps) out of reach. Also lock windows and any doors that lead outside (or to the basement).
If your toddler doesn’t already sleep with a night light, consider putting one in her room. The better she’s able to see, the less likely she is to sustain a bump or tumble if she decides to get up in the wee hours.
Think about putting a baby gate outside your child’s bedroom door too (at least at night) and one at the top of the stairs if she sleeps on a higher floor. While you can’t stop her from roaming around her room, you’ll rest a lot easier knowing she doesn’t have the run of the entire house (especially areas where cleaning products, medications or other potentially hazardous materials are kept). This is particularly important if your tot is in the habit of wandering around at night or even sleepwalking.
How to transition from a crib to a toddler bed
The newfound freedom that comes with sleeping in a bed can feel like a big deal to your toddler. Here’s how to help her warm up to the idea if she’s wary, plus how you can set the stage for good nighttime behavior (that doesn’t involve bouncing out of bed countless times).
Time it right. If your toddler’s life is already chock-full of change — new baby brother or sister, new school, weaning, potty training — wait before introducing the big-kid bed. This should be an exciting transition for everyone, not one that’s overwhelming or scary.
Consider a convertible. A convertible crib that turns into a toddler bed with the removal of the front panel can make the change seem less drastic to a toddler.
Read all about it. Find a few books about the big move, and share them with your toddler. Point out that the characters in the book are «just like you,» and just as bravely moving on to their new bed.
Let your child get in on the action. To mark the occasion and help your child feel excited about the change, let her choose new sheets and kid-friendly bedding, and encourage her to personalize the new bed with a few favorite stuffed animals or a blanket with her name on it if you have one. If you decide on a toddler or twin bed, enlist your child’s help in picking it out.
Ease into it if there’s a new baby coming. If your toddler is giving up a crib for a new baby, the switch calls for an extra dose of TLC. You don’t want your child to feel like she’s being displaced. If you can, try to get the new bed set up before the baby arrives. Let your tot «practice» napping in it to feel more comfortable with the new digs.
Don’t change the bedtime routine. Put the bed in the same space where the crib was, if possible. And if the bath-books-bed formula for transitioning to sleep worked before, stick with it. Mixing up the bedtime routine will just mix your child up.
Keep exploration to a minimum. For most kids, the newfound freedom to roam will be irresistible. It’s up to you to reinforce bedtime rules. Request last-calls for water, stuffed toys and trips to the potty before the final tuck-in, and make sure your little one understands it’s final.
Practice patience. That said, be prepared for your child to constantly pop out of bed for a drink of water, a snuggle with Mom or some other escape-from-my-room excuse. Calmly and silently return your toddler to bed as many times as it takes. Keep it as boring as possible and she’ll get the idea. For kids who don’t, some parents put gates at the bedroom door. If your little one has already proven she can climb out of the crib, however, chances are a gate won’t be much of an obstacle.
Praise your tot for practicing good bedtime habits. A helpful solution for controlling your child’s roaming habits might be a sticker chart. Give one sticker for each night she stays in bed. By the end of the week, reward her with a special treat, like an extra story at bedtime or a favorite family outing. Remember, toddlers love pleasing you and doing things for themselves. Helping yours learn to love a big-kid bed should be a win-win situation.
Are bunk beds safe for toddlers?
Bunk beds might score points for convenience and space-saving. But they’re not the safest choices for toddlers, say the AAP and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The top bunk poses the biggest risk, since young sleepers are more likely to fall out and sustain cuts, bruises, scrapes or fractures, even with a guardrail.
The lower level isn’t risk-free either, so if you’re able to avoid a bunk bed altogether for your toddler, it’s worth steering clear. Small children can still fall out of bed if there’s no guardrail, and though it’s scary to think about, anyone sleeping in the bottom bunk could be hurt if the top level were to collapse.
What age can children start sleeping in bunk beds?
Children younger than 6 years old should never sleep in a top bunk, according to the AAP and the CPSC. Should you opt to put your toddler in a lower bunk, take precautions to keep her as safe as possible, including installing guardrails on both sides of the bed, making sure the mattress fits properly, and placing the bunk bed in the corner of the room. Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed is a big step, but it’s nothing you and your sweetie can’t handle. As long as you set up a safe, toddler-friendly sleep space and stay consistent with your bedtime routine and rules, you should both be set for sweet, crib-free dreams. From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy. Was this article helpful? One key step in converting your crib to a toddler bed? Save it for the toddler. Creatas Images/Getty Images Three-in-one and four-in-one cribs «grow» with your child, providing an affordable way to furnish his bedroom as he moves from infant to toddler to child. If your crib is not convertible, you may be able to buy a conversion kit from the company. These are the basic steps you’ll take to convert any crib to a toddler bed. Always follow the instructions in the manual that came with your individual crib, as instructions and crib parts may vary. If your crib is not a convertible crib and was not intended to convert to a toddler bed, don’t attempt to make it into a toddler bed! You will need an Allen wrench and a screwdriver for this project. Don’t use a power screwdriver!
- Unscrew the four bolts that hold the stationary side of the crib in place.
- Remove the stationary side.
- Move the crib’s spring frame to the lowest level, if it isn’t there already. (Secure the frame with the same bolts and washers that were already holding it in place.)
- Mount the guardrail to the front panel of the crib. It doesn’t matter where you attach the high part of the guardrail.
- Attach the guardrail using the bolts provided for this purpose. These may or may not be the same bolts that you removed in step 1 [source: DaVinci].
After you screw in each screw, loosen it ½ to ¾ of a turn. Once the toddler bed is assembled, re-tighten each screw [source: Angel Line]. Do not over-tighten the screws and bolts, as this may cause breakage or distortion of the wood. If you’re missing a part, don’t try to substitute something similar. Contact the manufacturer for a replacement part. If you want to convert the toddler or youth bed back into a crib, you may have to fill in the screw holes so the screws will thread properly. An expert at a local hardware store can help you do this properly [source: DaVinci]. Originally Published: May 19, 2011
Crib to Toddler Bed FAQs
Can you use any conversion kit for a crib?
Yes, you can definitely use a conversion kit. Search for crib conversion kits that are sold with slats of wood running perpendicular to conversion rails so you can add your child’s mattress on top.
At what age should I convert a crib to a toddler bed?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but you should typically do so when a toddler seems too big for the crib. Parents generally switch beds anywhere between 18 months and 3.5 years of age.
What is the maximum age for a toddler bed?
The maximum age recommended by most manufacturers is 4 years. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that your child use the toddler bed until they weigh about 50 pounds.
Can a toddler go straight into a single bed?
Yes, it wouldn’t harm toddlers if parents shift them to a single bed; however, they should make sure to buy a soft mattress because they don’t weigh too much.
How long can you keep a toddler in a crib?
Most children make the transition from crib to bed at the age of 18 months to 3.5 years of age. If possible, wait for your child to be 3 years old and mature enough before trying them sleeping alone in their bed.
Introduction: Crib Into a Toddler Bed Hack
I have a set of three year old twins and I often hear people tell me “you got two for the price of one” to which I always reply “nope I got two for the price of two”. The fact is everything costs double so I look to save money wherever I can. Nothing is more frustrating than watching your kids grow out of something shortly after you bought it. I knew the kids would grow out of their toddler beds in no time so i figured if I could hack their cribs then why not. So here is my simple DIY furniture hack to turn your cribs into toddler beds.
Step 1: The Idea
The cribs we bought for the twins we the kind you can turn in to toddler beds and then ultimately full size beds as the kids grow. When all of the sudden our kids would show up back downstairs shortly after we put them to bed we knew it was time transition to toddler beds. If you have ever witnessed the Circ Du Soils act that is a toddler climbing out of their crib (nerve racking indeed) you know what I mean. I set out to make this happen on my own rather than buy the two kits that cost a couple hundred bucks a piece. The result has been a strong sturdy solution that is super simple that not only looks good (a demand of the wife) but stands up to all the product testing of a set of twins. Depending on what wood you have lying around the house you should be able to put one of these together for under $30 bucks. All cribs will not be the same of course but you can use the same ideas and techniques to adjust what I did to fit whatever. I will try and add some commentary where variations in design might come into play.
Step 2: Materials
The list materials needed for this hack is relatively small. If you do a lot of woodworking you might have most of what you need already. The only specialty item i used for this was the crown bolt and cap nut to give it a nice finish. List of Materials: 12’ x 3/4’ Board 4’ x 3/4’ Board 2’ x 2’ Post ¼ inch Crown Bolt ¼ inch Cap Nut Primer Paint For this build I used poplar boards because I was going to paint them but if you are going to stain it feel free to use whatever type of wood will work for your particular crib. As far as the length of the bolt goes, Make sure you measure the width of the wood on the crib that the bolt will be going through and adjust accordingly. You want to make sure that once the bolt goes through both the front board and the crib there is enough room for the nut to grab the board but, since there is a limited depth to the cap nut you ‘want too much excess. I use 2 inch bolts since both pieces together measured 1 1/2 inches which left 1/2 inch fir the nut which was perfect. Thats it gather your materials and lets build!…..
Step 3: The Front Board
1. Measure bolt height: There are four spots where the front of the crib is attached they are the same on both sides, one attaches to the side posts and the other to the slats that support the mattress. While the front of the crib is still attached take a look at the back and measure the distance between the floor and each of these bolts. I labeled them as outside (attached to the supports) and inside (attached to the slats) getting this right will make sure the crib is level when you build the new front board. 2. Cut the board to length: This should be pretty standard due to the standard size of the mattress but might differ slightly due to the width of the side supports. The length I used was 56 inches which left a slight overage on the ends. 3. Remove the existing crib front: Pretty self explanatory. 4. Measure bolt width: This is another point where it will vary depend on what type of crib you have. What i did was I used the side support as a reference and measured from the outside of the side support to the hole on the support («outside» see step 1) and to the support for the slats («inside»). I then added the overhang of the front board to this to get the correct measurement from the outside of the front board to the hole. 5. Mark and Drill Holes: Now that you have the measurements you need for the support bolts you can mark and drill the holes. I Made two straight lines on each side with a speed square at each width I needed then marked the correct height on each line. 6. Attach the Board: Bolt the board to the front of the crib to make sure it fits.
Step 4: The Bed Rails
1. Cut The Rail Board: You can use whatever length you want here really but I chose 35 inches. I wanted to make them long enough to prevent the kids from rolling out of the bed but still give them a spot to be able to crawl in and out. 2. Cut The Posts: I cut the posts at 10 inches long which gave them just the right height to keep the kids from rolling out. Next I cut out notches in each end. The notches were 3 1/2 inches deep (the same as the width of the rail board) and 3/4 inch wide (so the rail and side boards would slide in. You could cut these a variety of ways but I found my jig saw worked just fine. 3. Glue The Rail Boards Into The Post: Slide the rails in to the notches that you cut on the posts to make sure they fit. If they fit then add some wood glue to the notches, clamp them and then set aside to dry. 4. Sand The Bed Rails: Once the glue is dry sand down the joints so they are flush as well as the sharp edges.
Step 5: Final Mock Up
1. AttachThe Front Board: Bolt the front board on the bed then slide the side on to the front board. Figure out where you want the side rails to sit. There is no real science here you just want to give the kids enough room to climb in and out. Make sure the spot you pick to leave open is where you kids feet will be when they sleep. 2. Attach the Rails: While in place drill a hole through the rail and the front board this will make sure it is all lined up. Do the same for both sides. 3. Disassemble For Finishing: Take the rails of the board and remove the front board from the crib.
Step 6: Finish and Paint
1. Finish The Edges: This is not necessary but to give it some detail and a more finished look I decided to use a quarter inch round over bit in my router to finish off the edges. You could use whatever you like or matches the overall look of your crib. You could also just skip to sanding the piece and remove any sharp edges that way. 2. Final Sanding: Using my random orbital sander and some fine grit sandpaper I gave it a once over to smooth out the surface and remove some blemishes for painting. 3. Paint: Prime the wood if you are going to paint it and then paint with which ever color you choose. If you are going to stain then there is no need to prime but you might want to consider a polyurethane to protect it from the kids. I have use a spray polyurethane on some other project which has worked great.
Step 7: Final Assembly
Finish It Up: Once the paint is dry put it all back together as you did in the mock up and that’s it…your done. Let the kids have at it.
Step 8: Final Thoughts
I completed these several months ago and they are still going strong. The kids have definitely put these to the test and they have held up with no issue. Have fun with the design you could expand upon these with whatever edges or other finishing touches you like. Please feel free to drop me a line with any comments or questions and I will be happy to answer anything i can. Thanks for taking the time to look and my project and I am sure I will be posting the hack to turn this into a full bed in the future. Thanks and Happy Building 1 Person Made This Project!
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