Making the transition from a crib to a fully-fledged bed is one of the most treasured milestones that a parent can share with their child. Think of it as your little one’s very first graduation ceremony. But taking the next big step towards a larger bed isn’t all that cut and dry. Some parents swear by their cozy toddler bed while others prefer to jump straight to a “big kid” twin.
We’re here to share our years of know-how on this topic–and give some good advice in the meantime!
The best way to set about upgrading to a bigger bed is to listen to what your children like and dislike about their crib. Pay attention to whether they’re growing annoyed with an enclosed space, find comfort in a smaller mattress, or fall somewhere in between. Ultimately, there are three factors to point out before you decide which bed is right for you and your child:
- Available floor space in the nursery
- Easing your child’s transition from a crib
- Cost concerns and longevity
Although we have dozens of years of experience with toddler beds and twin beds, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Most of us have seen our little ones make a 180 overnight and decide on a whim that a toddler bed is just too small or a twin bed too spacious. That’s just part of the “fun” of being a parent!
Read on and we’ll break down each of the points above, hopefully shedding light on the twin bed versus toddler bed debate.
Should I Buy a Toddler Bed or Twin?
Before we begin talking about the pros and cons of toddler beds and twin beds, let’s get the definitions of these two pieces of furniture out in the open.
Toddler beds are sold separately or as crib extensions. The mattress on a toddler usually measures 50’’- 60” long and sits low to the ground. It usually gives parents one or two years of comfortable sleeping space during the transitional years between the crib and twin bed.
Twin beds come standard with about 80’’ in length. It covers a little under twice the floor space of a toddler bed, so your nursery will fill up quickly if you have two or more in the room.
Now it should be a little easier to picture how large a twin bed can be if, like most of us, floor space is at a premium. For parents living in a somewhat cramped apartment or small home, the difference between a 50’’ toddler bed and an 80” twin can stack up fast.
Listening to other parents currently engaged in the tricky business of choosing a new bed for their nursery is a good way to learn about important factors like space. One parent noted: “If I had the space I would go with a twin…but the toddler size beds allow for some much-needed play space.”
So, we see that not only do smaller beds fit into smaller nurseries, they also open up unused floor space for play, fun, and socialization. Parents will have to weigh the benefits of keeping precious floor space open versus filling it with a larger bed.
Simplifying the Transition From Crib to Bed
Perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind when hunting for your little one’s next bed is putting your child’s interests above your own. The move from a crib to a bed may seem like a big stepping stone for parents, but it’s much, much bigger for our kids. Before asking “Should I buy a toddler bed or twin?” It’s a good idea to hear what your child has to say, so to speak!
In an online piece about the ins and outs of navigating the years between the crib and a full ‘grown-up’ bed, one blogger showed the benefit of listening to a child’s sleeping needs first.
Her child had recently begun to climb out of his crib every night. They moved the mattress down to its lowest level, gave them a sleep sack, but still, the child kept indicating it was time to move to a larger bed. She said:
“Though his crib had an option to convert to a toddler bed, my husband and I opted to skip the toddler and go straight to the twin bed.”
The parent followed her kid’s actions rather than her own wishes, and it led to her buying the perfect bed.
There are other reasons to keep your child’s preferences in mind, even if they’re not yet speaking.
Twin beds, for example, are easier to share when your little one needs some snuggles. Opting for a large bed would be ideal for kids who like physical attention, move around at night, and are confident in sleeping with extra space.
Toddler beds, on the other hand, are the clear winner over twin beds if you predict your kid may struggle with a big change to a ‘grown-up’ mattress. Ask yourself:
- Does my child like to sleep in a supporting, smaller space?
- Will my child enjoy having more floor space rather than more sleeping space?
- Is your child yearning to leave the crib, or are they hesitant to make the next step?
The bed is a place of comfort, but also vulnerability, for children and parents alike. Keeping your kids’ preferences in mind when searching for a new bed is always the best policy.
Thinking Long-Term About Buying a Bed
The last factor that we want to highlight when considering a twin bed versus toddler bed is the financial investment involved. Once you have a clear idea of how much space you have and how your kid wants to upgrade their bed, you’ll have to think about the cost.
Of course, the most cost-effective bed option following the crib would be a toddler bed extension. Many cribs currently come with a customizable toddler bed built right in. You can reuse the crib frame for an additional year or two until your kid is truly mature enough for a twin (or even a full) bed. Yet not every parent is so lucky.
According to a dozen or so parents surveyed, the lifespan of a toddler bed was around two and a half years. On average, the transition period between a crib and twin beds for most kids is around two years as well. So, it’s a good idea to weigh the benefit of purchasing a new toddler bed which, in the end, will only get used for two to three years.
For us and many parents, those intermediary years are critical for childhood development. Before a child reaches 35 inches, it’s key to put them to bed in a crib. Yet it’s hard to overstate the importance of safety for our toddlers by keeping them in a crib, then a toddler bed, which is much lower to the ground than a twin.
Buying a toddler bed may not be essential for all parents, but they’re a great way to safely oversee your kid’s maturity until they’re ready for a twin bed.
Every parent navigates the transitional period from crib to twin bed in their own way. Parenthood is one experiment after another, with some coming out good and others near disastrous. In the end, you can simplify the process of deciding on a twin bed versus toddler bed by asking three questions:
- “How do I want to use my limited space?”
- “Which bed would encourage my toddler to grow?” and
- “Is a toddler bed a good investment given the way my toddler is maturing?”