How To Convert Crib To Toddler Bed: A Step-By-Step Guide
When you become a parent, you don’t realize all the changes that happen during your little one’s first few years, including graduating from their crib. In fact, you might be wondering just how to convert a crib to a toddler bed. That’s where we come in.
We’re here to help you through the entire process, from a step-by-step guide to tips on how to make it a smooth transition.
Plus, we’ll give you a great crib mattress option for your little one that can grow with them through the toddler years! But before we get there, let’s first take a look at the differences between a traditional crib and a convertible crib.
Traditional Crib Vs. Convertible Crib
A standalone crib is just your basic, traditional crib that doesn’t come with any extras and can’t be converted to a toddler bed.
On the other hand, with convertible cribs, you can convert them into toddler beds when your little one outgrows their crib. For example, our Convertible Cribs made by dadada in Italy are 3-in-1 cribs — with three mattress heights — which convert into a toddler bed with or without a toddler rail.
Thanks to fine Italian craftsmanship, this convertible crib is made with the highest quality materials, attention to detail, and timeless style. It’s crafted by hand in a woodworking shop with a reputation for building quality wood furniture since 1932.
And rest assured that this sturdy crib is safe in more ways than one. Our crib contributes to cleaner indoor air, creating a healthier environment for your baby to sleep.
With non-toxic finishes and sustainably farmed beechwood, it’s made to exceed U.S. standards and has earned the GREENGUARD Gold Certification, meeting the highest environmental safety standards. Read more about GREENGUARD Certification here.
Keep in mind that some convertible cribs (three-in-one or four-in-one cribs) may also come with bells and whistles, like a changing table, and drawers or shelves.
Obviously, traditional cribs cost less than convertible cribs. But, if you’re using a traditional crib, you will also have to purchase a separate toddler bed in a few years.
And you may have to buy extra pieces of furniture, like the changing table and dresser, that you wouldn’t have to buy if you were using a convertible crib.
Remember convertible beds can change into a toddler bed, but don’t try to turn a crib into a toddler bed if it wasn’t intended for that purpose.
With all of that said, what about the mattress for your child’s crib and toddler bed?
With both a traditional crib and convertible crib, you will have to purchase a safe, comfortable, mattress. Our Crib Mattress is breathable and firm, making it the perfect complement to whichever crib you choose!
Free of foam, glue, latex, or springs, this breathable mattress allows your baby to breathe straight through the material if they roll over in the middle of the night. It also means no sweaty back in the morning!
Not only is this crib mattress 100% breathable, but it’s also 100% washable. In fact, it’s the only crib mattress that's washable from cover to core!
To thoroughly clean your mattress, the cover can be unzipped, removed, and washed in the washing machine. And you can rinse the mattress core with a hose or clean it in the shower with soap and cool water. Easy peasy cleanup for potty-training accidents.
Now, let’s move on to when and how to convert a crib to a toddler bed. If you have a convertible crib, this is what you need to know!
When To Transition Your Child To A Toddler Bed
There’s no right (or wrong!) answer to when it’s time to transition your little one to a toddler bed. However, children are usually ready to sleep in a toddler bed anywhere between 18 months to three and a half years.
But it really depends on the size and temperament of your child. So, even if you have multiple children and one child was ready for a toddler bed at 18 months, this doesn’t mean that your other child will follow suit...and that’s OK!
Since a toddler bed allows your child to get out of bed at will, your toddler will need to have the maturity and self-control to stay in bed. That is another factor to take into consideration.
Here are some giveaways that your little one is ready for a toddler bed:
- Seems too big for the crib
- Their chest is above the crib rail when standing up
- Starts climbing out of their crib
- Verbalizes that they’re ready for a toddler bed
Note: If your little one is climbing out of the crib, it’s unsafe for them to stay in that sleep space. While they might seem like a gymnast and able to maneuver their body over the side, they could accidentally hurt themselves.
The good news is that if you have a standard-sized crib mattress, you can still use the same mattress when you convert their crib to a toddler bed! The Newton Baby Crib Mattress is designed to last through the toddler years and is a safe, hypoallergenic option for your little one.
Preparing Your Child For The Change
Your child will probably adjust better if they have some time to get used to (and excited about!) the idea of switching beds. Here are a few tips to help your child mentally prepare for the transition to a toddler bed.
Talk About It
Start by simply talking about the change. Mention it throughout the day and ask them what they think. Talk about other family members (even your dog!) sleeping in their own beds.
Reading age-appropriate books about sleeping in bed is another good way to bring up the topic. Get creative and tell your little one a bedtime story about sleeping in a big kid bed, too.
Before you convert the crib to a toddler bed, have a little shopping trip together to pick out new bed linens. Let your toddler pick out the sheets, blanket, pillow, or comforter. You may even consider letting them choose a new stuffed animal to accompany them on the journey.
Reminder: For sleep safety reasons, younger babies shouldn’t sleep with stuffed animals in bed!
Create A Reward System
You can also set up a reward system and explain it to your child before switching beds. You might use stickers to offer positive reinforcement for each night they sleep in their new bed, don’t get out of bed, go back to bed when you ask, and the like.
How To Convert Crib To Toddler Bed
Before you take the plunge and turn your child’s crib into a toddler bed, check around your house to see if you already have the conversion pieces stashed away (some three-in-one or four-in-one cribs already come with a conversion kit).
If you don’t already have the pieces to turn your child’s crib into a more comfortable and age-appropriate sleep space, you’ll have to purchase a conversion kit that transforms the crib into the toddler bed. It usually comes with hardware, two bed rails, and four slats.
Remember to always follow the instructions provided with the crib, and parts and instructions may vary with each conversion kit.
- Buy a universal guardrail kit or conversion kit specific to your little one’s crib (or gather the conversion pieces you already have on hand).
- Remove the crib mattress and set it aside.
- Remove one side of the crib.
- Make sure the mattress is set at the lowest setting.
- Attach brackets to the bedrail.
- Place the rail wherever you want it to go.
- Secure rail to bed.
That’s it? Yep. It’s simple. Now, here are a few things to consider once you’ve converted the crib into a toddler bed.
Considerations After Converting Crib To Toddler Bed
Be Mindful Of Bed Placement
When setting up your little one’s new bed, be mindful of its placement. Keep the bed away from windows, lamps, curtains, cords, and electrical outlets. Your baby might be growing up, but they’re still curious. You don’t want them to pull on or get into anything near their bed.
You’ll also want to place the headboard against the wall. Be sure to leave enough room on both sides of the bed so your little one doesn’t get caught in between the bed and the wall if they happen to roll off, which leads us to our next point.
Surround Bed With Pillows
Some kids adjust to their new bed right away and others take a little bit of time. Getting used to the open bed rail is part of the adjustment process, so be prepared just in case your little one rolls off the bed.
For example, surround their bed with pillows and blankets on the floor just in case they do fall off. The good news is their bed should be at the lowest setting, so it shouldn’t be that far of a fall to cause injury.
Prepare For Cleanup
Prepare for easy cleanup with an extra set of Organic Cotton Sheets and an Extra Crib Mattress Cover. Toddlerhood is usually when potty training takes place. Accidents happen, so keep these extras on hand just in case you have to do a quick change in the middle of the night.
This is where having a completely washable mattress comes in handy.
Our Organic Cotton Sheets are made with 100% breathable, soft, organic cotton muslin that’s certified to the Global Organic Textile Standards. They offer a snug fit for any crib mattress, and they’re machine washable for the most hygienic sleep surface.
Expert Tip: Remember that the safest way for a baby under one year old to sleep is in a bare crib — only a fitted sheet and absolutely no crib bumpers, baby pillows, blankets, or toys. Read more here.
Even after you’ve securely placed and tightened every screw, it’s important to do a regular check on your toddler’s bed. Observe the foundation to make sure it’s sturdy by giving it a good shake and lift. Then, check for any loose screws that may need to be tightened.
After all, the toddler bed has to endure all the wear and tear of your toddler, like all those times they jump on the bed!
Tips For A Smooth Transition
We know that converting a crib to a toddler bed isn't an easy process and neither is the transition for your child. We have a few tips to (hopefully!) help make it a smooth transition.
Keep The Same Bedtime Routine
Whatever you do, don’t change your little one’s bedtime routine…at least for now. Transitioning to a toddler bed is already a big change for your child; don’t throw anything else into the mix until they’ve fully adjusted to their new bed.
Also, hold off the transition if other changes are taking place — parents separating, one parent going back to work, potty training, or anything else that has disrupted their “normal”.
Tip: Give your child one change at a time, and then when they’ve adjusted, you can start easing in another one.
Reevaluate What Needs Babyproofing
You’re an expert babyproofer by now. You’ve learned the ins and outs of your child’s behaviors, and you know what draws their attention. As always, electrical outlets need to be covered and cords need to be out of their reach.
But now that your toddler has free reign in their room (insert scared-face emoji), it’s time to reevaluate what else needs to be baby-proofed, or better yet, toddler-proofed!
If you know your little one is going to be tempted to play with certain toys, keep them out of their reach or in the closet with a doorknob cover. It may also be time to place a doorknob cover over their bedroom door so they don’t constantly open and close it or go somewhere they shouldn’t.
Now is not the time to throw out or hand down your baby monitor. Save it! It will definitely come in handy when you need to keep an eye on your little one to see if they’re getting out of their bed and playing. You’ll know when it’s time to intervene and redirect your child back to bed.
Let Your Toddler Lead The Way
Unless you absolutely have to transition your little one from their crib to a toddler bed, like if you’re welcoming another baby, don’t force it. Let them lead the way.
They’ll let you know when they’re ready, so keep our list of hints in mind to know when the right time is to transition them to a toddler bed.
Talk To A Professional
Since sleep is so important for the whole family’s health and happiness, don’t be afraid to ask for help if things aren’t going smoothly.
If your toddler is having sleep trouble, you’ve struggled with establishing a healthy sleep schedule for your baby, or you simply want an expert’s opinion on your particular situation, a sleep consultation could be beneficial for you and your child.
We’ve partnered with the experts at Tot Squad to bring you a team of top-tier, certified specialists to help you and your little one on your sleep journey.
A Newton Sleep Consultation Powered by Tot Squad provides you with personalized support and recommendations for sleep schedules, naps, night wakings, bedtime routines, safe sleep practices, and more.
You’ll have a 30-minute consultation with a Tot Squad Trusted Provider specialized in sleep for newborns up to five-year-olds. This consultation will include an intake of your baby’s age and weight, their current sleep routine, and any habits that may cause sleep disturbances.
Your provider will help you develop a detailed plan customized to fit your family’s goals. Click here to learn more and reserve your spot.
The Next Step: Toddler Bed To “Big Kid” Bed
Once your little one has transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed, give yourself a pat on the back. But keep in mind that there’s one more transition ahead. The next step is graduating from a toddler bed to a “big kid” bed, or twin mattress.
Keep in mind that it’s also possible to go straight from a crib to a twin bed. The move from a crib to a toddler bed and later a twin bed can make for a more gradual transition, but the decision is totally up to you.
If your child is snoozing in a toddler bed, how will you know when it’s time to transition to a twin bed? When they approach the weight limit of the bed or if they can’t stretch out without bumping against the sides or end, it’s time to make the move to a “big kid” bed.
For continued comfort and hygiene, we recommend our 100% Washable Kids' Mattress, the cleanest kids’ mattress on the market and the first completely washable twin-sized mattress.
Offering firm support for those growing bones, this mattress provides the perfect transition from a toddler bed to a twin bed. With the same patented Wovenaire® technology as our crib mattress, this mattress is 90% air by volume, making it incredibly light and airy.
The other 10% of this mattress is made of the same material as yogurt cups. This material is woven in a pool of crystal-clear water. It solidifies to form a three-dimensional cushion and is then shaped into the mattress and placed inside its cover.
Since this twin-sized mattress is washable, you can literally wash away dust mites and allergens, making it ideal for kids with asthma or allergies. Cover the mattress with a breathable Waterproof Twin Mattress Pad for even more protection.
It’s a bittersweet moment moving your little one from a crib to a toddler bed. They’ll give you signs and let you know that they’re ready, and when the time does come, it’s important to know just how to convert a crib to a toddler bed.
Follow our step-by-step guide and always read the instructions provided with the conversion kit or universal guardrail kit. Remember: Only do this on cribs that can be turned into a toddler bed, such as our Convertible Cribs.
Consider the bed placement, surround the bed with pillows, and check screws regularly after taking the plunge of turning the crib into a toddler bed.
Also, keep your little one’s routine consistent, reevaluate what needs to be baby-proofed, and let your toddler lead the way. These tips will help make this a smooth transition.
And whether your little one is using a standard-sized crib or toddler bed, they can still use the same mattress! Our Essential Crib Mattress gives your baby what they need and gives you what you’re looking for — breathability and comfort!
So hold on to your Newton Baby mattress and embrace this time because your little one is growing up!