How to Turn Crib Into Toddler Bed? [DIY Included]

One of the seemingly millions of adjustments you’ll endure as a parent is a transition from crib to toddler bed.  Or, if you’re like me, you’re waiting for your little ones to adjust from your bed into basically any bed of their own, but that’s another story for a different day.  It’s one thing for you and your little one to be mentally and physically ready to adjust to the toddler bed.  It’s a whole other story getting the toddler bed ready to go.

Many cribs can be converted into a toddler bed by removing one of the four crib walls, lowering the bed to its lowest setting, and then adding a rail to help keep your little one safe.  The removal of the fourth wall allows plenty of space for your toddler to get in and out of bed, while the rail supports a safe sleeping environment by keeping your children from falling onto the floor.  The bed is set to the lowest setting to reduce the impact should your child roll out of bed beyond the rail.  

Signs Your Little One is Ready to Transition From Crib to Bed

As parents, sometimes you get so used to a new routine that you forget to acknowledge transitions.  Your little one could be exhibiting signs of a good time to transition from a crib to a toddler bed, or you might be ready to introduce the transition.

The timing varies and should be based on your little one’s circumstances.  Parents typically transition from the crib to a toddler bed anywhere from the ages of 15 months up through 3 years.  

Don’t Rush It

My suggestion?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If your toddler is a huge fan of the crib, he sleeps there safely, there’s no concern for breaking out, etc., there’s no need to rush the introduction of the bed.  He has enough going on all the time in terms of milestones and, momma, I can reassure you that this one will come, too.  Hold on to the last precious moments in the crib before he’s in an actual bed for the rest of his life.

Escape Artist in Training

On the other hand, if he has become a professional escape artist inside his crib, you don’t want him to endanger himself, so a toddler bed could be beneficial.  A toddler bed puts your little one much closer to the ground. 

Just remember to put additional barriers in place once the fourth crib wall is removed, such as a closed door, a baby gate, furniture secured to walls, or something blocking the top of the staircase.

Signs Your Little One is Ready to Transition From Crib to Bed

Size

My boys have been off the charts for size since they were in my belly.  Ever since they arrived on the outside, people think they are years older than they truly are.  My 15-month-old has been 30 pounds since what seems like his first month.  My back hates me.

That being said, they were both ready to transition to a toddler bed much sooner than other kids might be, and the situation could be the same for you.  If your little one is whacking his legs on the walls of the crib, a toddler bed might be most comfortable. 

My oldest is now four and already comfortably sleeping on a queen-sized pillowtop because he’s so large.  My 15-month-old is in a toddler bed as of last week.

You’re Potty-Training

It’s silly to try to emphasize the importance of rushing to the potty when you have to relieve yourself but then keep your child in a crib that prevents them from getting to the potty.  

If your little one is ready to potty-train, has expressed interest in the potty, or if you are ready to begin potty-training, it might be time to eliminate the fourth wall at this time as well.

You’re Pregnant

Nothing expedites the transitional phase quite like another baby needing the crib soon.  When you already have another child to chase around, those three trimesters fly by.  

It’s a great idea to use that time to get your older child used to a toddler bed.  The sooner, the better.

How to Turn Crib Into Toddler Bed?

Whether you’re wondering how to convert your Graco crib into a toddler bed or using another major manufacturer, the conversion process is pretty similar across the board.

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 You’ll want to make sure you have an Allen wrench or screwdriver nearby.  

  1. Refer to your original crib manual for conversion instructions.
  2. Remove the fourth wall.
  3. Lower bed to the lowest setting.
  4. Add optional rail or bumpers.

Convert Crib to Toddler Bed DIY

Not all cribs are readily converted into a crib, but some manufacturers provide a separate conversion kit for your convenience.  Reach out to your crib manufacturer to obtain one.

There are some basic, general steps that you’ll take to convert any convertible crib into a toddler bed.  If a toddler bed is not intended to be converted even with the assistance of outside tools or a kit, do not attempt to switch it to a bed!  You do not want to compromise your child’s safety in any way.

Before starting, make sure that you have an Allen wrench and a screwdriver nearby for this process as well.  Power screwdrivers are not recommended as they can split the wood.

  1. Locate and loosen the four bolts that support the fourth wall of the crib.  Remove.
  2. Set the spring frame to the lowest setting if it isn’t there already.  Ensure that the setting is secured in place.
  3. Secure the guardrail to the front area of the crib.  In some crib designs, you simply use the bolts that once secured the fourth wall to the base and that were removed in step 

Screws should be left pretty tight but slightly loose so that bed movement does not cause breakage in the wood.

How Long Can a Child Sleep in a Toddler Bed?

A child should sleep in a toddler bed for as long as it feels appropriate to both of you, and as long as the child fits in it. 

As soon as the feet reach the edge of the bed, it’s probably time to transition to a twin bed frame. 

Tips for Transitioning From Crib to Toddler Bed

Keep the Routine

Not all toddlers deal well with transitions, so try to keep the change in bed the only big change.  Whether your bedtime routine includes a bath, milk, teeth brushing, white noise, storytime, or all of these, keep everything else the same.  Toddlers function best when provided with a clear routine and expectations.

But Also Make it a Big Deal

At the same time, don’t act like the new bed isn’t there.  Transitioning from a baby to a “big boy” or “big girl” is a big deal for toddlers, and reaching this milestone should be celebrated.  Don’t forget to mention how happy it makes you feel for your little one to be enjoying their new bed, and don’t hesitate to pretend it was a reward for good behavior. 

Keep positive reinforcement top of mind.  Say things like, “this is because I know you’re a big boy now and you can’t wait to help me with little brother sleeping in the crib instead”.  

Tips for Transitioning From Crib to Toddler Bed

Stay Consistent and Dedicated

With every transition for your toddler, there is bound to be some rebuttal.  As toddlers progress in certain areas, be prepared for regressions in others.  What appears to be a simple change for you is monumental in their little lives. 

Your toddler may adjust well to their new bed, but they may begin to throw more tantrums.  They may reject the idea of the bed and start to visit yours in the middle of the night suddenly instead.  They might welcome the toddler bed with open arms and never skip a beat. 

Whatever the case may be, this is all normal growth and development associated with the desire to express themselves amidst situations they cannot personally control.  What’s most important is that you stay consistent.  Encourage him to stay in his bed, continue to try to place him into it each night, and, whatever you do, don’t revert to his previous sleep situation unless absolutely necessary.

Takeaway

When investing in a crib for your baby, it’s helpful to go with one that can be easily converted into a toddler bed. Parenthood is challenging enough, and there’s a reason why there are YouTube videos dedicated to the complexity of putting together the crib structure at all. They are meant to be sturdy, safe, and durable so that they can potentially be used for several stages of your babies’ lives.

As a result, however, their assembly can be tedious and challenging. Save yourself the additional headache of putting together a toddler bed by keeping the structure you already have! Plus, your little one is accustomed to the look and feel of their current crib and mattress. The transition is smoother if you convert straight to a toddler bed rather than bringing in an entirely new concept.  

If it’s a challenge to get your little one into their newer bed structure, keep in mind that this, too, shall pass, momma.  Stay cool, calm, and consistent, and know that you’re doing your best.  Someday, that little one will sleep alone in that bed, probably behind a closed door, underneath headphones, or invested in a movie on the laptop.  

So, if they need a few more snuggles for a few more nights before they’re as ready to transition as you are, hold them– and that memory– tightly.

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