Every new stage in a kid’s life is exciting, from the first time they walk on their own to their first day of school. One of the most significant milestones they hit is moving into their big kid bed. But when exactly should they move up? How should they move up? What age is a Twin bed for?
Ideally, your child will move to a twin bed when they’re four years old or taller than about four feet. Realistically, your child will move to a Twin bed when it is no longer safe, convenient, or practical for them to sleep in a Toddler bed.
Read on to find out when and why your child should transition to a Twin bed. There are also tips for making that transition as smooth as possible.
What is the Difference Between a Twin and a Toddler Bed?
Children go through several different bed sizes as they grow. They generally go in the order of
This isn’t universal, but it can be helpful when trying to understand the differences. They’re the intermediary steps between infants and full-grown adults. So, they have a lot of developmental ground to cover.
Both Twin and Toddler beds are designed with growing sleepers in mind. They’re similar in that they’re both designed for one small person to sleep comfortably. The difference is in their heights and lengths.
Here are the key differences between Toddler and Twin beds.
Toddler beds are small, low-to-the-ground beds. They usually measure at 2’3” by 4’6”, making them perfect for small children. They’re designed to be the next step up from a crib. These often come with built-in guard railings to prevent children from rolling or falling out.
Toddler beds may have decorative railings on three sides if they’re convertible. They are similar to Daybeds, which are the same size but have one open side instead of having a small guardrail. Most Toddler beds can be converted into Daybeds for nap time.
Twin beds are larger than Toddler beds and stand on regular box springs and bed frames. They measure at 3’0” by 6’3” and stand between 16 and 24 inches high. This kind of bed is more common than a Toddler bed. The bedding and other accessories are more widely available and so more accessible.
Twin beds will typically have a headboard and footboard attached to their main bed frame. The sides are completely open. Kids or adults (as long as the adult isn’t too tall) can use twin beds, so they generally do not have railings. They are the kinds of beds most often used in dorm rooms and other small living spaces.
Though not a different size category, some cribs are Convertible beds. Ther design lets them grow with your child. They allow for easy disassembly and reassembly.
Convertible beds generally have a basic configuration as a crib. They can then upgrade with a separate kit into a Toddler or Twin bed.
Having a convertible bed means that your decision for what kind of bed to use is somewhat easier. But your options are more limited, especially if you can’t find the conversion kits you need. Check with your manufacturer for details on a Convertible bed’s capabilities.
When Should I Transition My Child From a Toddler Bed to a Twin Bed?
There are two significant ways to tell when your child is ready to move up a bed size: age and height. While height is the most straightforward, it might not be the most practical.
According to the experts at Health Line, you should move your child from the crib to a bed when they’re 35 inches tall. You can also move them when the guard railing on a crib is less than three-quarters of their total height. Ideally, this will be into a Toddler bed, as this is closer to a crib and will be a more natural transition.
Your child’s Toddler bed will last them until they are about four years old, or when they reach four feet in height. After that, the mattress will be too small for them to lie flat comfortably. This is when you would typically make the switch to a Twin or Full bed (more on that decision in a moment).
Signs That Your Child is Ready to Move into a Bigger Bed
Some children may be ready to move earlier than others. Your child might be exploring their environment more at two years old or at three. The biggest issue with knowing when to transition from Toddler to Twin beds is communication.
While an older child or a teen can tell you when they need a new bed, for toddlers, it can be harder to figure out. It doesn’t have to be an impossible task, though. Every child is different. Thankfully, there are a few things to look for when upgrading your child’s sleeping situation.
- Your child is capable of climbing onto and off a regular height bed easily.
- Your child is uncomfortable in their toddler bed – they’re not sleeping well and waking up grumpy and upset.
- The bed they’re using is old and worn.
- There is a new baby on the way, and your Toddler bed is convertible.
You may also wish to skip the Toddler bed size altogether. The Spruce reports that there is no significant downside to going from a crib to a Twin bed. Installing guard rails along the side can make the transition smoother. Also, make sure they have easy access to getting on and off the bed, such as with a small step stool.
Should I Get My Child a Twin or Full Bed?
If you are already considering skipping the Toddler bed, you may wonder if it is worth it to go straight to a Full bed. This cuts out the financial burden of switching bed sizes as often at the cost of being a significant change all at once.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each kind of bed. Consider them carefully before making a final purchase decision.
The Pros and Cons of Twin Beds
Twin or Single beds are suitable for children just coming out of a toddler bed as they’re similar in dimensions. They’re also good for small rooms or shared rooms, especially if you opt for a loft or bunk bed.
Twin beds are considerably cheaper than Full beds. You can get a Twin bed, with the frame and mattress together, for about $300-500. They’re also more compatible with child safety equipment like railings.
Twin beds are very limiting, though. At some point, regardless of their quality, they simply will not fit your child anymore. They will need replacing.
They can also make a larger room feel sparse and empty. An empty room can make a child restless, especially when sleeping alone.
The Pros and Cons of Full Beds
Full or Double beds are suitable for long-term use if your child has already shown competence with getting in and out of a regular bed. They’re also ideal for children who move a lot in their sleep or insist on having multiple soft toys to sleep with.
Full beds work well in larger rooms and accommodate quickly-growing children easier. You won’t have to replace the bed as they grow older and taller.
Of course, Full beds are more expensive than Twin beds. They can cost between $500 and $1,000, depending on the retailer you choose if you decide to buy new.
They’re also not as compatible with safety measures, which increases the risk of a fall. If you have multiple children sharing a room, it’s not a practical decision either. Having a Full bed wouldn’t allow the room for each child to have their own sleeping space.
Deciding Between Twin and Full Beds
The final decision comes down to your child and their living space. It should fit your child’s habits for both play and bedtime. This means letting them keep their comfort objects near them and feel secure when they’re put down to sleep.
The type of bed they have should be the best match for their needs, for safety, and accessibility.
How Do I Transition My Child to a New Bed Size?
Knowing which size bed is suitable for your child is only the first step in the process. You still need to get them to sleep in it, and that can be difficult.
Oftentimes, kids aren’t comfortable with change. At that age, even the most minor difference is life-changing. These experiences can take some serious adjustment.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your child feel happier and more comfortable. Here are some ways to make the transition between bed sizes easier.
Try the mattress on the ground first.
You may worry about your child falling, especially if they routinely roll in their sleep. If so, consider having their mattress for their Twin bed on the ground for the first few months of use.
This will give your child easy access in and out of it and keep the bed on their level as they’re getting used to it. Once they’re used to the bed and comfortable sleeping in it, you can put it up on the frame.
Consider keeping a railing until they’re consistently staying in the center of the bed at night. This will help them stay safe when you do eventually move it up onto the frame.
Let them be a part of the process.
Making your child a part of the upgrade process can ease the transition between bed sizes. Having them pick out new bedding in a fun print can get them excited to try it out. It can also make them feel more at home in a bigger bed.
This goes for any change you’re making in the room if you’re upgrading it from nursery to kid bedroom. Let your child pick new wall colors, decide between types of curtains, or arrange their toys for display on new shelves.
Explain to your child what’s changing and why these changes are happening. Get excited with them if you can – seeing you happy will reassure them that this change is okay.
Let them keep their old bedding.
Once again, change on this scale can be overwhelming. If your child isn’t great with minor changes, letting them help might not be enough to calm their nerves.
If they need that sense of familiarity to keep calm, letting them keep their old bedding can be a great idea. This might be as simple as their old blanket and pillow and simple sheets of the same color. Having familiar things around can remind your child that this space is still theirs.
Ask your child what they want, and be sure to give them the option to keep familiar things nearby. This will help them feel more in control of the situation.
Be consistent in the rest of their routine.
In the same vein as letting them keep their old bedding, keep the rest of their routine as unchanged as possible. Put your child to bed at the same time, brush their teeth and their hair in the same ways as before, change them into the same pajamas, and read the same stories.
If the only thing that changes is the size of the bed, they’ll be more relaxed and able to accept it as a part of the routine. You can also give them some kind of incentive, such as a sticker chart for good bedtime behavior.
Do some “test naps.”
This is an excellent way to slowly transition your child to a new sleeping environment. While they’re still sleeping in their current bed, set up the new bed in your child’s room.
Explain to your child what is happening. Don’t force them to use the new bed if they don’t want to yet, but keep it made up as an option. Try to get them to take short naps in it to get them used to the feeling of the mattress and the size of it.
Once they’re comfortable napping in it, give them the option of sleeping in their new bed overnight. Do this a few nights a week, continuing with the option of sleeping in their old bed. Eventually, you can transition to fully sleeping in the new bed and take the old one out of the room.
Some children may instantly take to the idea of sleeping in a new bed. Others are extremely reluctant. Letting them test it out before committing to it fully can help you gauge where they are in terms of comfort.
Make Bedtime Boring
Almost every child experiencing discomfort with a new bed is going to try every excuse in the book to get out of it. They’ll suddenly need to use the restroom more often, want to get water for themselves, need a toy in another room, or ask for a cuddle in Mom and Dad’s room.
The trick here is to be mind-numbingly boring. Silently pick your child up and return them to bed each time they get out, as many times as it takes. This may mean quite a bit more crying and whining. Don’t react beyond reassuring them that it’s okay and saying goodnight.
Eventually, your child will get the idea that getting up isn’t an option. It won’t result in more attention or the return of their old bed. They will find a way to sleep on their own and slowly acclimate to the new environment.
This may take quite some time, so be patient with your child and keep at it. Remember that this is a big change for them, so acting out for a time is normal. If bedroom escapes become too often, consider investing in a gate.
A Bigger Bed for A Bigger Kid
Buying your little one a new bed can be a daunting prospect for both of you. It’s a sign that they’re getting older and growing up. As with any other milestone, it can cause some growing pains and be frustrating.
Still, it’s rewarding to see your child getting their first taste of freedom and older childhood. As long as you’re waiting for the appropriate signs, buying a bed that matches your needs, and transitioning them safely and smoothly, putting your growing child in their first big kid bed can be a fun experience all the way around.