Blog > June 2018 > Toddler Beds: Everything You Need to Know
For some children, the transition from a crib to a bed can be a big one, and for those children there now exists a potentially wonderful solution: the toddler bed! But there’s a lot of debate around whether toddler beds are worth it or whether you should just transition your child straight into an adult bed. There’s a lot of personal preference involved too. And there’s no single answer to this question that will apply to all children; there is no right or wrong way to do it. But it is a question that is worth exploring, particularly if your child is reaching that key moment.

How Big is a Toddler Bed?

A toddler bed is a halfway house between a crib and an adult twin bed. As such it’s a lot smaller than a twin bed (the mattress size is usually that of a crib) and it’s lower to the ground too. This is great for minimising the impact (quite literally) of those inevitable “where’s my safety barrier gone?!” falls.

What Age Should a Child Move to a Toddler Bed?

There’s no hard and fast rule about the precise age your child should move from their crib into a toddler bed or a twin bed. The ‘right’ age could be anything from 18 months to 3 years and may depend on personal preferences or on how developed your toddler is. Perhaps you’re having another child and need the crib, or perhaps your toddler has just discovered they can climb over the bars to freedom!

If your child is more than two years old when they make the transition, you may choose to go straight to a big boy or girl bed and skip the toddler bed altogether as you’ll probably be making that transition soon anyway. If they’re between 3 and 5 you probably won’t get much use out of a toddler bed before they outgrow it either. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option in a little more detail.

Should We Go from a Crib to a Toddler Bed or a Twin Bed?

Your child may have no problem with their transition from a crib to an adult bed, but if they do, or you think they might, a toddler bed can really help to ease that transition. It’s like what they’re used to in terms of shape and size (some children can feel a bit ‘lost in space’ in a twin bed), and also in that most come with some sort of protection barrier. All this familiarity can lead to longer, peaceful sleep, which is good for everyone!

The next big advantage when it comes to a toddler bed is space; if you don’t have much of it, a toddler bed might be the ideal solution. Perhaps you want more play space for your toddler, or maybe they’re about to have a new brother or sister join them in their room. Whatever the reason, a toddler bed can help you get the most from a small space.

A small bed can be quicker to change in a hurry (anything to quicken that 2am bed wetting duty!), and from another practical point of view, they’re generally much cheaper than a twin bed, and a lot easier to pick up!

Some cribs convert into toddler beds (and some toddler beds into chairs), so with a bit of research, you could quite easily double the bang for your buck. But despite all this practicality, are you just putting off the inevitable? You’re going to have to get a twin bed eventually, right? And here is where the other side of the argument comes in.

When a twin bed could last your child all the way into their adult life, paying for a toddler bed that might only last them a year or two can start to look a bit extravagant. And when lots of toddler’s transition straight into a twin bed with no problems, it might also be an unnecessary step to take.

If you are worried about the transition stage, you could start by putting their crib mattress on the floor and then swapping it for a twin mattress before they make it up to the full bed. You could also install removable rails around the bed when they get up there to help them feel secure (and stop them falling out so much).

But what about the lack of play space? Well a bed can be a great place to play! Ours has been a pirate ship, a bus, even a cloud castle on many occasions. And all that extra bed space will come in really handy if your child likes company while they go to sleep, or when they’re awoken by a nightmare. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could lie with them in a twin bed rather than try to cram yourself into their toddler one?

If your children are active sleepers, they could end up waking themselves up in a smaller bed as they stretch and knock into the sides. Plus, if they’re used to sleeping in a twin bed, they’ll be more likely to sleep in other beds when you travel.

As we said earlier on, there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to moving out of a crib, but if you just can’t make up your mind, some toddler beds pull out into narrow full-length twin beds, which might offer you the compromise you’re after!

When Should a Toddler Start Sleeping with a Pillow

If you’re thinking about bumping your kiddo up to their first proper bed, then you may feel it’s also time for them to start sleeping with a pillow. With toddlers this should be absolutely fine (although we’d recommend only offering one when they ask for it) but the NHS states that pillows and duvets should not be used with babies under the age of one as they are unable to push obstructions out of the way and could suffocate if their face gets covered. Just something to bear in mind.

What Should a Toddler Wear to Bed?

Whether you go for a toddler bed or opt for a twin, it’s all about the sleep, right? And believe it or not, how you dress your toddler for bed can make a big difference on whether they get enough of it! First, don’t over dress your toddler as our body temperature actually needs to drop a little for us to fall asleep, and an overly hot toddler is also more prone to night terrors. A single layer of pyjama bottoms and a long-sleeved top will be plenty. If the room is warm enough for you to be in short sleeves, put short-sleeve pyjamas on your toddler, and if it’s warm, put them down in just a nappy. Judge it by what you’re wearing (as in the short sleeves, not the nappy!) and you’ll not go far wrong.

If you find yourself being called constantly throughout the night to replace covers (younger toddlers take a while to learn how to do this), try toddler sleep sacks! These are like wearable blankets and the good ones are designed to keep your toddler at just the right temperature.
We’ll never reach a definitive answer on the toddler bed vs twin bed debate, and that’s because in the end it depends entirely on what’s best for our kids - and all our kids are different. But whichever way you go with it, we wish all you parents swift passage on this next step of the journey back to something resembling a normal sleep pattern!