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How To Convert Crib To Toddler Bed

Our tiny babies don’t stay tiny for very long. And as they grow you’ll need to start thinking about converting their crib into a toddler bed. This can be an emotional time but it’s something that you need to ensure that you do correctly as it is imperative to their safety.

I have two beautiful girls and one boy, and I know that the move is no easy and simple feat. And that’s with the help of a sleep specialist.

So I thought I would impart some of the most vital knowledge I have to ensure a seamless transition.  

If it is time to change your baby’s crib into a toddler bed you’re going to want to read this article to ensure a happy, comfortable, and safe transition, if you are not quite sure we also have a how to transition baby to crib article to check out.

Traditional Vs Convertible Cribs

Okay, so the first thing you’ll need to establish is whether you have a traditional crib or a convertible crib. A traditional crib is your typically cheaper and generally more standard crib option.

If you have a traditional crib, it will be a stand-alone crib that won’t be able to be converted. You’ll need to purchase a new toddler bed separately. Typically mini cribs will have the same issue, read here for the differences of a mini crib vs crib.

However, if you have a convertible crib, they can be, as the name suggests, converted to suit your little one as they continue to grow.

I think these are great because they mean that you don’t have to make a new purchase when the time comes. 

When Should You Transition? 

No two children are exactly the same and so there is no hard and set rule. When your little one is big enough and ready, you can take the plunge when the time is right for you.

Typically though, you’ll be looking at anywhere between the ages of 18 months and three and a half years and are too big for a pack and play.

You’ll need to keep in mind that once you change to a toddler bed, your little one will be able to get out of that bed as and when they choose.

Expect a few nightly wanders – they’re inevitable. Because they can get out of bed as they please, you’ll also want to consider their maturity and self-control levels before making the big decision. 

If you have a jungle-gym gymnastic on your hands that enjoys scaling the confinements of their crib, as I did, it may be time to swap to a toddler bed.

While they may seem like a pro acrobat, there’s a good chance that they’re going to end up falling and hurting themselves, and transitioning helps avoid this. 

Preparing For The Big Transition

While this can be a big thing for parents, it’s even bigger for your little one. The most productive way to ensure an easy transition is to get your little one excited about the change rather than apprehensive.

Here are some tips that helped me.

  • Calming Conversations – Don’t just make this decision yourself, it’s good to speak to your child about the move. See how they feel about it. Find out what they are worried or excited about. Using books that talk about bedtime can be really beneficial. 
  • Let Them Pick – We all love personalizing our rooms with things that we love. Why not take your child shopping with you so they can pick out their favorite sheets, comforters, pillows, etc? 
  • Reward Systems – You may as well accept this now – your little one will want to get out of bed, a lot. Especially at the beginning. Trust us on this one. To save your legs from marching up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs again, set a reward system in place. For each night they sleep in their bed without getting up, or going back to bed when asked, they may get a sticker. So many stickers can then equate to a reward of some kind. 

I found that giving my child some independence as well as some rewards really helped to get her excited about this next step, and it made the whole ordeal a lot easier, we learned so much with our first newborn, and we shared the five things first time moms need to know, in this article

Step-By-Step Guide To Converting

This part is actually pretty simple. Much simpler than actually keeping your toddler in this bed when they don’t want to sleep, I can tell you that much. Let’s have a look at how to go about it. 

How To Convert Crib To Toddler Bed (1)
  1. First, you’ll need to purchase either a universal guardrail kit or a conversion kit that is specific to your crib. 
  2. Next, you’ll need to remove the mattress. Keep it to the side, you’ll need it again soon. 
  3. Then you’ll remove one side of the crib. 
  4. Now you’ll want to ensure that the mattress level is set to its lowest setting. We don’t want your little one hurting themselves if they manage to maneuver the guardrail. 
  5. Then you will attach the brackets to the bedrail
  6. Now it’s time to place the rail onto the crib, ideally in a position that is most likely to keep your little one safe and from rolling out of bed in their sleep. 
  7. Secure the bedrail into place. 
  8. And just like that, you’re all done. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should You Stop Using A Crib?

You should stop using a crib anywhere between 18 months and 3 years old. A telltale sign of changing from a crib to a toddler bed is when your child is able to climb over your crib rails. 

Does A Crib Need A Conversion Kit?

Yes, if you do not already have the necessary pieces of equipment to turn your crib into a toddler bed, then you will need to purchase a conversion kit. 

When Can A Toddler Start Using A Pillow And Blanket?

From experience, I would recommend not introducing blankets and pillows until your child is a minimum of 18 months old.

Final Thoughts

When it is finally time to ditch the crib and convert it into a toddler bed, it can be a big change for both you and your little one, if you toddler is not sleeping during nap time, check out our article on how long to leave your toddler in crib if not napping for tips. .

Preparing them for such a transition is necessary to keep tantrums to a minimum and to just make the whole process a little easier on them. 

Luckily, the actual conversion process of the crib itself is probably the easiest part of the whole thing. As you can see from the guide, doing so really is a breeze and will only take a matter of mere minutes. 

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