All parents want the best for their babies, and that means making sure they are safe and comfortable at any age, awake or asleep. Newborns become babies who become toddlers so quickly that it can be hard to know which bed is right for them.
Children can transition from a crib to a daybed or toddler bed at anywhere from 12-24 months, but there are several criteria to meet before using a daybed for your toddler. There are also specific recommendations regarding the safety of your toddler and the beds that are best for them.
Knowing when it’s time to transition can be tricky. Read on to discover the safest and most comfortable bed recommendations for your toddler.
Toddler Bed or Daybed: Is There A Difference?
Toddler beds and daybeds are remarkably similar. Toddler beds are low to the ground and can fit a regular crib mattress. They may have one open side and three enclosed sides, or just a headboard and a footboard.
Daybeds are similar in that they can also be low to the ground, but they have a railing on three sides, with one of the long sides of the bed open, with no railing and also a larger mattress. Daybeds generally fit a twin-sized mattress but occasionally are made for a full-sized mattress.
The softer mattresses used in a daybed and larger are necessary to support the toddler’s lighter bodies as soon as the risk of SIDS and suffocation has passed. A toddler can continue to use their crib mattress as long as they fit, though it may just become uncomfortable, and they may have a more challenging time sleeping.
Many sources use these terms interchangeably, so if you come across these terms, it is a good thing to be aware of.
When to Move a Toddler from a Crib to a Daybed
While a lot of the lines for development and milestones vary from child to child, there is one thing experts agree on: the safest way for a baby to sleep in their early stages.
Newborn babies up until about 18 months should be in a crib that meets several recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This helps to reduce the risk of SIDS and death by suffocation when babies are brand new and at their most vulnerable.
Several of these guidelines that are strongly recommended include:
- A firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet
- A crib that meets current safety standards
- No blankets
- No pillows or toys
- Baby should sleep on their back every time
A crib will allow for all of these conditions to be met. When the child begins to be able to maneuver their way out of the crib, then you know – for their safety and for your sanity- that it is probably time to transition to a larger bed.
A child climbing up and over the railings of their crib can result in a nasty fall and injury, or even death. Making sure your toddler is safe is a top priority, so when they are active and physically able enough to get out of their crib, you know it is time to upgrade.
Moving them into a daybed with an open side (or no railings at all) but close to the ground will provide a higher level of safety and comfort for your little one.
Like all milestones, each child is vastly different. You may notice that your child is ready to transition out of the crib at 18 months, but sometimes they are content and safe up until 2 ½ or even 3 ½ years of age.
By age 4, they will likely be too large to fit in the crib at all and should have generally met all of the developmental milestones that allow for maneuvering out of the crib.
What Bed Should a 2-Year-Old Be In?
A toddler bed or a daybed are the best options for a two-year-old. They provide more room than a crib and help ease the transition from a crib to a regular bed. Thinks of this stage as the “intermediate”; it comes after the initial crib but before the regular kid/adolescent bed.
Toddler Beds Are a Great Option for 2-Year-Old
A toddler bed is an excellent option for a two-year-old. By 12-18 months, they have graduated from the safe sleep recommendations of a crib with a firm mattress and can be moved into a larger bed with a larger, softer mattress.
Consider a Daybed for Your Two-Year-Old
Standard daybeds are twin size, while toddler beds use the same mattress as the crib. You can also get a specific “toddler mattress” that will still fit in the crib or the toddler bed but is much softer than a crib mattress.
A Convertible Crib Provides the Best of Both
If you are hesitant to purchase a toddler bed or a twin-sized daybed that will likely only last a couple of years, there are other options.
There are many convertible beds that are now widely available. These serve a child from birth up through adolescence and beyond. They often can convert between any of the following phases:
- Toddler bed
- Full-sized bed
Depending on the amount of space available, you can choose to keep your toddler in their post-crib choice for a few years or move them straight into a twin or full-sized bed. Many caregivers find it easier to do smaller and less extreme transitions, so their child adjusts more quickly to the sleep changes.
A toddler bed in between a crib and a regular bed is a good choice. It will also provide for more space in the bedroom, where transitioning straight into a larger bed size will reduce the amount of space in the bedroom.
When to Move from a Daybed into a Regular Bed
Moving from a daybed into a “regular” bed depends on the needs of the child and the family. Generally, this will happen as your toddler continues to grow, and they will eventually outgrow their toddler-sized mattress.
If your child can easily get up and out of the toddler bed, and there are no longer worries of the child falling out of bed, it may be time to size up.
Below is a handy chart to compare the average mattress sizes for reference.
|Mattress Type||Mattress Size (inches)|
|Crib||28” x 52”|
|Toddler||28” x 52”|
|Twin (daybed)||38” x 75”|
|Full||54” x 75”|
|Queen||60” x 80”|
|King||76” x 80”|
If transitioning straight from a crib into a regular-sized bed, it’s important to make sure that there are railings around the bed at the beginning, mainly because larger beds are generally higher off the ground. A child who isn’t used to sleeping without railings is much more likely to fall out of bed.
There are some great affordable and adjustable options online if your bed set doesn’t come with them; most don’t. Many are adjustable and will fit on any of the larger bed sizes, keeping them from falling out, but still allow your child to get out of bed without having to jump over and drop off the side of the bed.
Making the Right Decision
There are no set rules for transitioning your toddler from a crib to a toddler bed, to a daybed, or beyond. The most important thing is that you, as a caregiver, are attuned to the child’s needs and keep safety tips in mind. Your toddler will let you know when they are ready to transition.
Choosing a toddler bed or another option altogether is a personal choice and should be made individually by the family. There’s no right or wrong way to transition your toddler into a daybed, as long as it is done safely.