Where has the time gone?! It can be startling for parents to realize that their baby is no longer a baby, but it can also be exciting when it’s time to pick out new toddler furniture. There are functional, adorable products specially designed for your growing child that can make the transition from baby to “big kid” safe and easy.
My child has outgrown her crib. Now what?
Toddler beds are a great transitional step between cribs and twin or full beds. Their smaller proportions give little kids the feeling of a “me-sized” bed, and the great thing for parents is that you can use your crib mattress. Plus, a toddler bed is low to the ground—making it less of a falling hazard—and is a space saver for small rooms. Many toddler beds are inexpensive, so it’s a good place to start incorporating your child’s taste. Toddler theme beds are a fun place to start in your selection. For example, if your little princess wants a bed that’s fit for her to sleep in, consider a princess toddler bed for her. And if your little racing fan wants to dream about things that go “vroom,” perhaps a car toddler bed is for him.
To make decorating a breeze, look for a toddler bed that is available as part of a themed set of furniture and comes with coordinating bedding.
If you’re interested in the classsic appeal of a wooden toddler bed, look for one that comes in a variety of finishes to match existing furniture. If whimsical is more your style, an iron bed provides the right touch. And if you’re looking for the ultimate in convenience, choose a toddler bed with a removable bed rail that can transition into a full-size bed when your child is ready. Of course, always ensure that the finish of your toddler bed is non-toxic.
When purchasing your child’s new bed, make sure to pay close attention to the maximum weight capacity and age limit. For maximum use, choose one that’s made for kids up to age 5 and holds at least 50 pounds. If you want to avoid purchasing a separate box spring, look for a toddler bed with built-in mattress support slats that provide durability and eliminate the need for a box spring.
Are bed rails for toddler beds really important?
Yes. Many toddler beds are made with at least a partial barrier to help prevent falls. But if the bed you select doesn’t—or if it doesn’t provide a rail that’s long enough or high enough for your wiggly toddler—consider purchasing a toddler bed rail. Safety rails come in several styles, so decide which is right for your child. If you want one that cushions a serious toss-and-turner while preventing falls, select a soft model. If you want a rail that’s firm and simply acts as a barrier, buy a hard plastic model.
It’s important that safety rails for toddler beds be adjustable so you can elongate or shorten the rail depending on what your child needs at different periods. If your bed rail is constantly shifting or becoming dislodged, it doesn’t do your child any good, so look for one with features that prevent it from slipping. For extra versatility, select a safety rail that can be stored under a bed or in a closet and that is easily transportable for use when traveling. Also, make sure your bed rail can be removed quickly and easily; this is especially important when your potty trainer has to get to the bathroom quickly. Toddler bed rails can be used even when your child has moved to a twin or full-sized bed for added security in the years to come.
How to select toddler bedding your child will love
When you chose bedding for your baby’s crib, you were really picking out what you liked. But now that your child is older and has his own likes and dislikes, his bedding can be all about him! Start with toddler bed sets that fit with the theme of her current room or with a theme you want to establish. Options for toddler boys bedding range from sports to trains to dinosaurs to cowboy prints. Girls’ toddler bedding comes in patterns such as princess, ballerina, flowers, and hearts. Of course, solid colors, polka dots, and animal prints are perfect for either a boy or a girl and are good, non-clashing options for kids who share a room with a sibling. For a toddler just learning to make a bed, consider the benefits of a fitted comforter. It encourages your child’s bed-making habit by making the chore easier and looking much neater than a traditional comforter when he’s done.
If you want one-stop shopping, look for a toddler bed set that includes everything you need: comforter, top and fitted sheets, and a pillowcase—and that offers coordinating accessories. It’s a good idea to purchase additional fitted and flat sheets for the inevitable accidents that go along with potty training. Look for toddler bedding sets that allow you to purchase those sheets separately. Or if you fall in love with a set that doesn’t offer them separately, you can purchase solid color sheets that coordinate with the set. Make sure that all of your toddler bedding is machine washable.
How the bedding is made is just as important as its design. You still want baby-soft bedding against your toddler’s skin, so look for sheets with a relatively high thread count.
Are step stools necessary?
For most parents, they’re a lifesaver when it comes to helping little ones become more independent. With a step stool, they can do many things on their own, like reaching the sink to brush their teeth and wash their hands. First, determine whether you want a one-or two-step stool. If you choose a one-step stool, make sure that step is low enough that your child won’t have trouble climbing on by himself, while also providing the height he needs to reach counters and sinks.
Style is an important element when choosing step stools for children. From sports to animals to ballet, whatever your toddler adores, you can likely find a child’s step stool designed with him or her in mind. For uniqueness, choose a hand-painted step stool. And to further delight your little one, select a personalized step stool with her name on it. Better yet, what child could resist seeing her name on a puzzle step stool? These unique stools provide functionality and entertainment—especially during the long stretches that potty trainers spend in the bathroom. If a solid color is more your style, look for wooden step stools that come in a variety of finishes and colors that can also be personalized with your child’s name.
To get double duty out of kids’ step stools, look for ones with build-in storage where kids can store anything from toiletries to books. With storage stools, make sure to look for a cutout in the front where the stool closes so your child’s fingers won’t get caught. Also, since step stools for children are likely to be moved from room to room frequently, select one with access holes on either side for easy portability.
The Bottom Line
Since your toddler bed may not be used for long, select an affordable model that’s easy for your child is getting in and out of. Make sure the bed has bed rails—or purchase your own—to help both you and your child feel more secure. To help make the transition from crib to bed easier, get your child’s opinion on what bedding he would like. And to assist your toddler is becoming more independent, choose a sturdy step stool that can help her reach the bathroom sink by herself.
Our Mom Expert
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.
“By the time my oldest daughter was 2 ½, she had learned how to climb out of her crib. My husband and I felt it was too dangerous to leave her in her crib any longer, so we bought her an adorable toddler bed. She seemed excited at first, but it wasn’t long before we had big problems. She wouldn’t stay in her bed at night and would wander into our room, her brother’s room, the kitchen—everywhere! But if we closed her door, she would scream for hours. Our solution was to install a safety gate at her bedroom door. That way, we could leave the door open (which made her feel more secure), but she couldn’t wander all over the house at night, keeping everyone else awake and possibly hurting herself.”