When we went crib shopping for my son, now 6, I had my heart set on getting a convertible crib. The idea that it could convert to a daybed, then toddler bed as he grew, sounded ideal, not to mention cost-effective. But as he got older, I began to question whether it was even worth transitioning to the toddler bed, or if I should just move him right up to a regular bed?
You might be looking into which route to go for different reasons. For example, you might have a crib that doesn’t convert to a daybed, and have to buy something new from the get-go. Or maybe you have a second child on the way who is going to take over that crib, convertible or otherwise, and it’s time to move baby #1 to a big boy or girl bed to prepare for the new family member.
Your choice, then, is between a toddler bed or a twin bed? (Other options, keep in mind, include a double bed if you have the space and want your child to have the extra room; or a bunk bed, which many parents have for a single child so they can use one bunk for toys or sleepovers.)
What to consider first
First, remember that the process of transitioning into a new bed is unique for every child. Some kids are ready as early as 18 months, and some don’t want to take that step into they are a few years old.
In some cases, it has to do with emotional development. A child might not be mentally ready yet to let go of the crib. Consider how he feels, and only switch when he’s ready. Prepare him by letting him know he gets to go in a big boy bed, with his own choice of sheets, stuffed animal friends, and more!
In other cases, it’s more a physical need: if the child is very tall for his or her age, you might not have a choice but to switch. If the child can easily climb out of the crib, or his chest reaches the top of the rail when he stands up, even with the mattress at the lowest setting, it’s time to switch. And you want to do so before he has the chance to crawl out in the middle of the night and get up to some mischief.
So, the question is: should you opt for a toddler bed at all, or go straight to a regular one?
Pros for getting a toddler bed
Getting a toddler bed might be an easier transition for a child, since it’s more similar in size to a crib, and they often come in cute and fun modern designs that appeal to children. A toddler bed might also be cozier for kids: they don’t feel as though they’re lying in the centre of what seems like a massive bed. Remember, to a small child, a twin bed seems huge.
Takes up less room
If you’re strapped for space, a toddler bed won’t take up as much space in the room, leaving more room for play, and to get around. That said, some regular-sized beds come with storage drawers underneath, which can come in handy as extra storage space for toys, clothing, or other items. But if your child is still in diapers, a toddler bed might be a better option since you’d still need a change table in the room.
You can still use your crib mattress and bedding
You can get some more mileage out of that crib mattress and bedding you spent hundreds of dollars on just a few years ago by moving it over to a toddler bed. This also provides some familiarity for the child, who is already used to the colour and patterns. It might not seem as drastic a change to them. You can also get fun kids bedding that fits a small single bed featuring their favourite movie or TV characters, or themes like dinosaurs, airplanes, or safaris.
Use them as chairs
Some toddler beds can neatly double as chairs, maximizing the space, and allowing the child to sit upright and play, equating the bed to fun awake time as well.
Less worry about falls
One of my biggest concerns when moving my son to a full-sized bed was falling. He tends to move around a lot in his sleep, and I was sure he’d fall out at some point every night. To solve this, I got bed rails to position on either side of the regular-sized bed, and put a soft floor mat beside the bed so if he did fall, it wouldn’t be onto the hard floor. Toddler beds can alleviate these issues since they don’t sit too far from the ground, and some have built-in rails or raised sides to ensure your child doesn’t go tumbling out.
Cons for getting a toddler bed
They won’t last as long
Toddlers grow pretty quickly, and before you know it, your little one might start feeling like a giant inside a toddler bed, or desire to feel more “grown up” with a full-sized bed. This, of course, depends on each individual child. Nonetheless, you won’t get as much life out of a toddler bed as you would a regular one, unless you plan to eventually pass it on to a younger sibling.
Buying a toddler bed is an additional, potentially unanticipated cost that you can avoid if you switch straight to a regular bed. If you’re not on a budget, or have another child coming and/or plan to conceive again, it might be worth it, though, since the bed will be passed on to siblings.
Parents can’t cuddle up!
Mom and/or dad probably can’t fit comfortably on a toddler bed with the child. Which means there’s no snuggle time, or the child will more often hop over to your bed when they want to cuddle up.
Yet another transition
It might be fun to redo the nursery, but you might want to limit the number of times you need to take apart a bedframe, and switch the child to yet another set of sleeping quarters.
So is a regular bed or a toddler bed the better investment?
The answer really is “it depends.” Do you have multiple kids and/or plan to have more? If so, that could factor into your decision. You might need to keep the crib mattress in the crib to accommodate an upcoming baby, which would mean buying a second mattress for a toddler bed. But with multiple kids, you might be OK with that, since you can transition the new baby into the toddler bed once the older child moves on to a regular one.
Consider costs, as well as your time and/or desire to switch beds more than once. If you’re all for efficiency (my hands is raised here!) just go straight to the regular bed, and help your child make the transition.
Look at your child’s mentality. Does he or she seem ready to transition in the first place? If so, and they are actively asking, they might be ready for a regular bed. If you feel like you need to ease them into the transition, a toddler bed might be a welcome small step to sleeping without bars.
Also, if they are up crying multiple times a night, a regular bed might be easier because you can cuddle with them for a bit until they fall back to sleep and return to your own bed. Otherwise, they will be crawling into your bed, leaving that toddler bed unoccupied.
Finally, look at the size of both the room and budget. If this is going to be the child’s room for the foreseeable future, or you have plans to move to a larger home, a regular-sized bed might be the most prudent investment.
Check out lots of toddler and regular-sized bed options at Best Buy Online.