How To Choose The Best Toddler Bed For Your Growing Child

toddler bed in a jungle themed nursery

Babies grow up so quickly! In the blink of an eye, your tiny newborn will be crawling and then walking. And before you know it, it will be time to say goodbye to the crib and transition your child into a toddler bed.

To help you choose the perfect toddler bed for your growing child, our Newton Baby experts are here for you. We’ll look at the pros and cons of using a toddler bed and discuss when your child is ready to move out of their crib.

We’ll also share the important features to look for when you’re shopping for a toddler bed. This way, you can be confident in your decision, and your toddler can sleep safe and sound in their new bed.

Table Of Contents

What’s A Toddler Bed?

Young girl happy with her new toddler bed

A toddler bed is a smaller, more compact bed designed for young children. It is typically around the same size as a standard crib and even uses a crib-size mattress.

Some toddler beds have low rails along most of the sides to keep your child from rolling out. Others are simply conversions of the crib, where often only one side is replaced with a lower side, making for more of a daybed-style bed.

The bed may sit directly on the floor or have low legs. Its low profile allows toddlers to safely get in and out of the bed on their own.

While many parents decide to move their child from a crib to a toddler bed, that is not your only option. You can also skip the toddler-sized bed altogether and move your child straight to a twin bed.

There are pros and cons to each option. For instance, providing your child with a smaller bed can help them feel secure so they sleep better. These lower beds also help prevent injury in case your child falls.

But a toddler bed won't fit your child forever. You'll eventually need to purchase a larger bed for them. Since your child can stay in a twin bed until they are fully grown, skipping the toddler bed can save you money.

However, a large bed can feel intimidating for a small child. Most twin beds were not built with a toddler in mind and may sit high off the ground or have sharp edges.

Also, many families would prefer to save space for as long as they can, opting for a toddler bed over a twin bed, especially if they live in a smaller apartment in a city.

Because of space concerns and the safety benefits, many parents choose to invest in a toddler bed when their little one outgrows the crib.

When To Make The Big Move 

Kid crawling out of crib

The first time your child crawls out of their crib, you might be tempted to move them to a toddler bed, but moving your child too soon might cause some problems.

For example, when your child is really young, they may not understand the need to stay in bed at night. It’s dangerous if they get up and start wandering around while everyone else is asleep.

That’s why it’s important to move your child out of their crib only when they’re developmentally ready. For many kids, this happens between the ages of 18 months and three years. But there’s not a “right” age — some kids are ready earlier and others later.

To help you make the right decision for your little one, here are a few signs that it’s time for your child to make the move:

  • Sleeping through the night
  • Climbing out of their crib when it’s at the lowest setting
  • Reaching about three feet tall
  • Expressing interest in a big kid bed

You may also decide to move your toddler if you’re pregnant and need the crib for a new baby.

If this is the case, you’ll want to transition your child a few months before the baby arrives. That way, your toddler has time to get used to their new bed before a sibling starts sleeping in their old one.

Of course, when moving your child from a crib to a toddler bed, it’s not only the toddler who has to be ready. You have to be ready, too.

This milestone requires you to put on your sleep training hat so you can consistently give your toddler feedback as to what is expected of them at bedtime. Your child’s bedtime routine is more important than ever during this transition.

Features To Look For In A Toddler Bed

Kid laying and playing on a tablet on a toddler bed

No matter when your child begins sleeping in their toddler bed, you want to make sure they’re safe. Since there are so many different types of beds on the market, it can be overwhelming to sort through them all.

To help you pick the perfect bed for your little one, here are six important factors to consider.

1) Safety Features

Your child’s safety is of utmost importance. So, before you buy a toddler bed, make sure it has safety features such as rails on multiple sides of the bed and a low profile. With these features in place, your child is less likely to roll out of bed in the middle of the night.

You’ll also want to make sure your child’s mattress fits well in the frame of the toddler bed. It should be snug, eliminating any gaps where your child could get trapped.

If your toddler bed is made by using the conversion kit of your crib, then you can use the same mattress you had when they were in the crib because the footprint of the bed does not change.

Speaking of mattresses, it’s important to ensure that the mattress is supported. You want a bed with slats, cross wires, or something similar to hold up the mattress.

Also, the mattress shouldn’t rest only on the edges of the bed. If your child rocks or rolls around too much, the mattress could fall without proper support.

2) Materials

When choosing a toddler bed, you’ll also want to know the materials used during manufacturing — both the wood and the stains and finishes. Some beds are made of 100% hardwood, like walnut or oak, while others are made of softwood, like pine or poplar.

Hardwoods are the preferred material, due to their durability and safety. However, they can be heavy and tend to be the most expensive. Softwoods are a good alternative. They are less expensive and considerably lighter but can be easier to scratch.

Other cribs are made from composite materials, such as fiberboard, plywood, or particleboard. Although these are generally less expensive, you need to be wary of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), like in formaldehyde glues, as well as lead and phthalates.

As for stains and finishes, look for unfinished toddler beds or those finished with linseed oil, beeswax, or natural vegetable oil.

3) Certifications

When shopping for a toddler bed, you’ll notice that many bear stamps of certifications such as GREENGUARD Gold, California Air Resources Board (CARB II), and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

GREENGUARD Gold certification means that the toddler bed meets strict criteria when it comes to VOCs. Seeing this certification can give you extra comfort in the safety of your purchase.

The CARB II standard is applied to furniture made of composite wood. If a toddler bed is CARB II compliant, there are low emissions of formaldehyde in the composite material, making it a safer choice for these types of beds.

Additionally, the FSC certification demonstrates that the wood used in building the bed came from a responsibly managed forest, so you can feel good about the environmental impact of your purchase.

4) Country Of Origin

Another thing to look for when shopping for a toddler bed is where the bed was manufactured. Beds are made all around the world.

Ideally, you’ll choose one that was made as close as possible to where you live, cutting down on transport and associated pollution. Furthermore, manufacturing in the U.S., Canada, or Europe requires stricter regulatory oversight and adherence to labor standards.

5) Design

Toddler beds come in all sorts of shapes and colors.

You can find beds made of metal and beds made of wood. There are beds shaped like trucks or pretty pink castles. Some are classic and others are modern.

With so many options, here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to choose the right design for your toddler:

  • What bed would they enjoy sleeping in?
  • How much space do you have? Is there room for a larger bed, or do you need a compact one?
  • What kind of theme do you want in your child’s bedroom? Does this bed match your vision for the space?
  • How long do you think your child will use this bed?
  • Will another child use this bed someday?
  • What colors and woods do you prefer? What would match other elements of the room?
  • Do you already have a crib that can be converted into a toddler bed?

These questions can help you eliminate some of the choices. And once you have it narrowed down a bit, consider asking your child for their input.

To do this, you could show your little one pictures of your top three contenders. Then, give them the final vote! This process gives your child ownership of the bed so they’re more likely to want to sleep in it.

6) Comfort

Baby standing near newton crib mattresses

If your child isn’t comfortable in their bed, they’re less likely to stay in it all night.

One of the best ways to make your child’s bed more comfortable is to upgrade their mattress. And one of the best upgrades you can opt for is comfort and breathability like you’ll find in the Newton Baby crib mattress with a Wovenaire® Core.

This special mattress is made of the same ingredients as a yogurt cup, a unique combination that’s perfect for your toddler.

Not only is this mattress cozy, but it’s also secure. With its GREENGUARD Gold Certification, you don’t have to worry about your young child breathing in VOCs while they sleep.

There’s no doubt that with the right mattress, you’ll both get a better night's sleep!

7) Durability

Young girl jumping on a bed

Kids don’t know all of the rules yet. They may occasionally jump on their bed or sit on the rails. And when they do, you don’t want the bed to fall apart on them.

A well-built toddler bed can last for years. You can pass it down from one child to the next and have confidence that it’ll hold up. So, when you’re shopping for a toddler bed, make sure to look for one that’s sturdy.

To do this, pay special attention to how the joints are connected. Do they look like they can withstand your active toddler? If they look flimsy, go ahead and pass on that bed.

Also, look at the maximum weight on the bed. Many toddler beds have a weight limit of 50 pounds, but some are tested for more. Ideally, you want to find a bed that will last until your child is developmentally ready for a twin bed.

While you may spend a little more to get a well-built toddler bed, it’s worth the extra expense.

8) Functionality

If you picked a convertible crib for your baby, you may already have a toddler bed on hand. You just need to follow the directions to change the crib into it. This generally involves taking off one to four sides, depending on the style, and replacing them with shorter sides.

You can also get a toddler bed that you can convert into a twin-sized bed when your child is older. If you go in this direction, be sure that it’s the style that you’ll want for years to come.

There’s no doubt beds that serve multiple purposes can help extend the life of the furniture.

9) Price Point

Price points for toddler beds can vary widely. You can pick one up for under $100, or you can pay several hundred for one that’s made from solid wood. No matter what your budget is, you can likely find one that meets your requirements.

When you’re pricing beds, keep in mind that you’ll also need a mattress. If you don’t need your crib again, you can move the mattress straight to the toddler bed. Otherwise, you’ll need to pick up another one.

When it’s time to transition to a toddler bed, your little one is most likely getting close to potty training time as well. This should be a consideration if you’re in need of a new mattress.

The Newton Baby Waterproof Crib Mattress makes clean-up simple if your potty-training toddler has an accident. And since it’s completely washable, you don’t have to worry about it starting to stink and having to replace it. It’s a great investment for you and your child!

Prepping The Room For A Toddler Bed

Once you’ve selected the perfect toddler bed for your child, you’re going to have to think about overall room safety. Now that your child will be able to freely navigate their space — possibly in the middle of the night when you’re fast asleep — you must be prepared.

First, you want to think about the bed placement. Make sure that the bed is placed so that your child cannot get stuck between the mattress and the walls.

In addition, you want to be sure wherever you’re placing the bed in the room, it is away from cords, windows, heaters, lamps, or anything else that could be dangerous. Speaking of windows, be sure that windows are locked and have window guards as well.

Next, examine the other furniture in the room. Is anything a tipping hazard? If you haven’t already, you’ll want to install anti-tip kits. Children can be curious and pull or climb to try to get things when you’re not in the room.

You’ll also want to ensure that all of your drawers are childproofed.

Another consideration is their toys. Having toys at the ready can be a good thing because they can quietly play in the morning if they arise earlier than others in the house. However, if there are too many toys or if they are on the floor or strewn around, this can pose a problem.

toddler laying with toys

Too many toys can be overstimulating for a child and may cause trouble when your little one is trying to get to sleep. It’s best to organize toys in neat bins or boxes as part of the bedtime routine.

In addition, toys on the floor could become hazardous if your child gets up in the middle of the night because they could trip or fall. In addition to a clear pathway to the door, make sure you have nightlights in the room that can help them see if need be.

You also want to think of otherwise babyproofing the room. Children in toddler beds can be as young as 18 months, and many small objects still pose a choking risk. Be sure that the room is free of choking hazards and that all sharp corners and plugs are covered.

Lastly, you want to be sure that if your curious tot does get up in the middle of the night, there’s nothing outside their room that can be problematic. However, you don’t want to lock their room, as this can be a fire hazard.

If you’re worried about them wandering around the house on their own, you could install a bell that will alert you of any movement. And if you have stairs in your house, it might make sense to install a gate at both the top and the bottom of the staircase.

Helping Your Little One Adjust To A Toddler Bed

Just because everyone’s technically ready for a toddler bed doesn’t mean it’s going to be a snap from day one. If your little one is having trouble adjusting to their new sleep situation, try starting the transition with naptime.

Napping in the new bed should help get them used to it and decrease any resistance when night falls. You can also talk up the bed and the exciting milestone. Getting them excited about this new stage will help them adapt!

Letting them be involved in any bedding or pillow decisions can help as well!

Mom reading to toddler

In addition, since your child is already dealing with change, it’s best to keep their bedtime routine from their crib days and follow it precisely.

For example, if the routine was bath, changing into PJs, and reading a bedtime story before lights out at 8:00 p.m. in the crib, it should be the same in the new toddler bed.

Once they’re tucked in bed, listen for any sneaky sounds in the room — like them testing out their new freedom. If you hear your toddler get up, you’ll want to intervene and put them back to bed. If you do it enough times, they’ll get the hint, and it will get easier.

The same goes for an early riser. If your child gets up before everyone else in the morning and tries to wake you up, walk them back to their room and tuck them back in.

If the problem persists, you might want to cut down on naps or try a toddler alarm clock that shows green when it’s time to rise and shine. Remember, all of this is new and just takes practice.

Choose The Toddler Bed That’s Right For Your Child

Young boy sleeping in a toddler bed with a stuffed animal

To find the best toddler bed for your child, consider the features we’ve discussed. Once you find one that has the safety features, design, and durability that you’re looking for, go ahead and make the leap!

For the coziest and safest sleep, choose a Newton Baby Crib Mattress to go with your toddler bed frame. Then, let your little one help you prepare the bed, and tuck them in on their comfortable mattress for sweet dreams.

Next, read them a bedtime story, give them a snuggle, and let them fall asleep on their brand-new bed. With the right toddler bed and the perfect accompanying mattress, your growing child will love their big kid bed in no time!

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