It can be a daunting thing, deciding between a toddler bed vs. a twin bed, but there are some pros and cons of each. Let’s dive in!
I’m going to come right out here and tell you that I moved all 5 of my babies into either twin or even DOUBLE beds straight out the crib.
Mainly because I had them and I’m cheap.
Looking back, I might have chosen differently for a variety of reasons, so let’s dive into those now. Before we get started though, let’s remember that there’s no right or wrong here.
Toddlers can sleep with blankets and stuffed animals so, this is mainly an issue of:
- space planning
WHEN to Transition Your Little One Into Their Own Bed
I WILL NOT BE REMISS in offering you up what I know about moving into this new phase.
Imma be honest.
Don’t take them out of the crib too early.
Yours truly is a certified baby and toddler sleep consultant, and I see this a lot. Don’t do it too early and here’s why.
- There’s actually no reason to move them early. If they are climbing out of their crib but less than 2 years old, or even less than 3… put on a sleep sack that won’t allow their legs to climb. Then, if they take off the sleep sack, turn it on backwards so they can’t get to the zippers.
- If you do move them before they have developed enough self-control, you may end up spending a lot of time trying to keep them in their bed, keep them in their room or (more importantly, personally) keep them from waking up early in the morning and simply coming out.
If they know they can get up and go start their day, you may have some 5 am wakeups on your hands. And it can take weeks to break this habit.
Toddler beds are those made specifically as the “first bed” for little ones that they’ll grow out of by the time they go to school, typically.
You can buy them at specialty stores, Amazon, or even make them yourself. They are often super cute, themed, and very low to the ground. The main goal of a toddler bed is to be sort of a transition from a crib to a normal twin or even double sized bed.
Keeping in mind that there is no right or wrong here, there are some reasons why moving your little one to a toddler bed (after the crib) may be a good fit for your family.
- Space Effective– Toddler beds are generally smaller than twin beds and take up far less space. This may leave space in your little ones room to keep the changing table, or that exuberant amout of baby play toys.
- Safety- Toddler beds are either going to be very close to the ground, many include a guardrail. I can see this being a benefit, especially if you have an active sleeper.
- Make the Transition Easier– A toddler bed is going to “feel” more like their crib because of it’s cozy little size and the fact that it has the same mattress “feel.” You can even use your current crib mattress.
- Fun Designs- They come in some seriously cute designs! I don’t know a little girl who wouldn’t be excited about getting a Disney Princess Canopy Toddler Bed or a little boy who wouldn’t think it was fun to sleep in a Bat Mobile Toddler Bed!
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Alright… we’ve talked about how they can be great for transitioning your little one to a big bed. Now, what are some of the reasons why using a toddler bed might not make sense.
- Short Term- Because of the smaller size, your child will outgrow his/her bed fairly quickly.
- Expense- Even if you were to make one, you’re looking at spending money on an item that would not be long term. In general, toddler beds are not very expensive. The question you have to ask yourself is this: is it worth spending when we won’t use it for long.
- Attachment- All the excitement you put into your little one getting a “big bed” may lead to he/she becoming emotionally attached to the little bed and once again needs to be transitioned later to a twin bed.
- You can’t lie in it with them – Okay maybe I’m just a sucker for some kid cuddles, but I love lying in bed with my kiddos and reading books. I’m 5’10” so you do the math.
There are several rules of thought on transitioning from a crib straight into a twin bed. Remember, don’t do this too soon.
Twin beds are quite a bit different feeling that cribs and you don’t want the trouble of trying to keep your little one in his/her bed.
- Long Term Fit- You will get your money’s worth. Your little one can use this mattress for years to come. This also cuts the transition from a toddler bed out… some little ones don’t love change. Going to a twin bed may help eliminate that transition later.
- Snuggles- Yay! You can now fit into your kiddo’s bed for story time snuggles before bed.
- Bed Sheets/Comforter- It’s very easy to find bed clothing that matches the theme of your room or your child’s personality. It can really be a special thing for your toddler to love his/her comforter set.
- Extra Space- You child now has extra space on his/her bed for stuffed animals or moving around when they sleep. My son does both. He has a “zoo” of animals and sleeps on all ends of his bed.
- Creative Designs- When I first think of twin bed, I imagine a very boring mattress and frame. In reality, there are some very creative options- if you want to make your kiddo’s twin bed extra special. Here are a few: House Twin Bed, Princess Pink Twin Bed Frame, Solid Wood Bed with Relax Seat, Sport Themed Twin Bed.
SO…we took a look at some benefits to starting with a twin bed.
Now, that may not be the best fit for every kiddo. Let’s see some reasons why it may not be:
- There Are No Railings- Ahhh…those handy railings at the head of toddler beds. Will your little one roll off the bed in the middle of the night and become terrified of sleeping in his/her own bed? You can create some makeshift railings or buy them, however, and this may jump it into the pro category.
- Cost- The crib mattress sheets and don’t fit twin sized beds, so you’re looking at extra cost to make this transition happen. Furthermore, twin beds are slightly more expensive than toddler beds.
- Space Required- Twin beds take up significantly more room than toddler beds. You’re probably going to have some moving around or down sizing on toys initially.
- Tougher Transition- A twin sized bed is going to “feel” different than sleeping in a crib. Even if your child is totally ready to transition out of the crib, the task of adjusting to this bigger space may be difficult. There are ways to make it comfortable (stuffed animals, special comforters, snuggle time).
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Alternatives to Toddler and Twin Beds that Work for Some Families
If you’re thinking that neither a twin nor a toddler bed is the way to go for you, here are some other options that may work:
- Day Bed- Has rails on the ends and generally smaller in size than a twin. I have a friend who transitions her 3 year old into a day bed and it worked great of her.
- Double Bed- If you’re looking for a little more space for stuffed animals or snuggle time.
- Futon- Can be folded into a couch if needed to save on space.
- Trundle- May be a great option if your toddler is moving into the room with an older sibling.
- Kid’s Flip Sofa- This would work short term if you’re extremely short on space.