Eventually, all children will reach the stage where they need to graduate from a crib to a toddler bed. Some children will find the move daunting, while others will be excited to finally be in their ‘grown up’ bed. Whether your child is in a crib or a toddler bed, having a high-quality and supportive mattress is of paramount importance for your child’s safety and comfort.
If your child is graduating from a crib to a toddler bed, you may be wondering if their crib mattress will fit. In this article, we’ll answer that key question in detail alongside other useful information you need to know when making that all-important transition. Let’s take a look at the key difference between crib and toddler mattress.
What is a toddler bed?
A toddler bed is simply a smaller version of a standard twin bed designed specifically with small children in mind. It’s much smaller than a standard twin and is also much lower to the floor. This is a major advantage as young children often fall out of bed when they first make the transition out of their crib. When a bed is closer to the ground, the chance of sustaining an injury from a fall is much lower. Some toddler beds also come with bed guards fitted to prevent falls from occurring in the first place.
Does a crib mattress fit a toddler bed?
Most toddler beds are actually the same size as a standard crib mattress. Standard crib mattresses measure 28” x 52”. This means that there is no gap between the mattress and the side of the crib where a baby could potentially get stuck. So, your baby’s crib mattress should fit their toddler bed- in theory. As there is no standard toddler bed size, it’s worth double-checking before you make a purchase if you want to continue using the same mattress. This can help you save money as you will only need to purchase the bed frame once your child moves into their toddler bed.
Can a toddler use a crib mattress?
There’s no safety reason why a toddler can’t continue to use the crib mattress they had as a baby. However, baby crib mattresses are very firm to prevent the risk of SIDS and to support a small baby’s growing body. Although this type of mattress is not dangerous for a toddler, it may be too firm to feel truly comfortable.
In general, toddlers need softer mattresses than babies. Softer mattresses allow their bodies to sink in comfortably. A toddler will need a softer mattress than an adult to get adequate support due to their lower body weight. If you see signs that your toddler is uncomfortable sleeping on their crib mattress, you may need to purchase them a softer mattress once they move to a toddler bed.
Dual-sided crib mattresses
One way to solve the varying needs of babies and toddlers is to buy a dual-sided crib mattress. These have a firm side that’s safe and comfortable for a young baby, and a softer side more suited to the needs of a toddler. This means that you can simply flip the mattress over and continue to use it in their toddler bed without your child sleeping on a mattress that’s uncomfortably firm.
Generally, dual-sided crib mattresses cost a little more than a standard baby mattress. However, you’ll get far more use out of it as your child can sleep on it until they graduate into a standard twin bed. So, you’ll probably save money in the long run and won’t have the hassle of having to go mattress shopping all over again once your baby grows into a toddler.
Can my toddler sleep in a twin bed?
As an alternative to purchasing a toddler bed, you might consider moving your child straight into a standard twin bed. This usually comes with a cost advantage as your child will eventually need a twin bed in any event. So, you won’t need to invest in a toddler bed or mattress if you follow this route.
However, one major disadvantage of sleeping a toddler in a twin bed is that they are high off the ground. This increases the risk of injury if your child falls from their bed in the night. You can lower the risk by fitting bed guards to the side of the bed. You may also wish to place mats on the floor next to the bed to reduce the chances of your child being hurt if they do fall.
A relatively modern invention in the world of infant beds is the convertible crib. These cribs can be adapted into a toddler bed once the time comes for your child to make the transition. These have the advantage of saving you time and effort as you will only have to purchase one product to last you until your child is ready for a full-size bed. However, they are often much pricier than normal cribs. If you’re on a tight budget, it may be worth comparing the cost of buying a convertible crib with the price of a standard crib and toddler bed bought separately.
When should I move my child into a toddler bed?
Like so many aspects of parenting, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Most children will make the switch between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. Ultimately, the timing comes down to your particular child and their development. In general, it’s better to err towards the later side of this range if you can, as younger toddlers are often not ready. However, very active and physically able toddlers may need to make the transition earlier for safety reasons.
Often, the move to a toddler bed is prompted by concerns that the child is able to clamber out of their cot and potentially hurt themselves. This is a valid worry, and such an even could certainly lead to injury.
However, if you discover your toddler is able to climb out of their crib, your first action should be to lower the mattress as far as possible to prevent this. This is because there may also be safety concerns around your toddler being able to wander freely out of their bed in the middle of the night. If your toddler is still able to climb out despite this, then the time has come to move on from their crib for their own safety. If you are worried that your child may come to significant harm as the result of their new freedom, for example by falling down the stairs, you may need to install a gate on their bedroom door to keep them safe. Make sure that any free-standing furniture in their room is fixed to the wall and that drawers and cupboards are childproofed to prevent injury. You should also ensure that their floor is clear of potential trip hazards.
Sometimes, parents consider switching their child to a toddler bed because a new brother or sister is on the way. However, it’s important to be sure that your child is ready. If not, it may be in your first child’s best interests to purchase another crib so that they aren’t rushed. If you’re sure they’re ready, make the change a few weeks before the expected arrival so they have time to adjust. Alternatively, make the change after the baby is born once your older child has had time to get used to their change in circumstances. After all, your new baby is most likely to be in a bassinet or Moses basket for the first few months anyway.
How do I help my child switch from a crib to a toddler bed?
Some toddlers are excited to graduate to a toddler bed, while others find the change more challenging. Often, firstborn children are more resistant to the switch because they have grown emotionally attached to their crib. They may also resent the move if they know their crib is to be given to a new little brother or sister.
Children with older siblings are often keener to move to their toddler bed to feel more grown up and emulate a much-loved older brother or sister. However, all children mature at different rates, and birth order is not a sure-fire way to tell whether your toddler will accept the switch happily. To make the change easier for everyone, you could try:
- Placing their toddler bed in the same location as their crib was
- Allow them to sleep on their old familiar bedding for a while
- Install a guard rail to help them feel safe
- Involve your toddler in choosing their new bed and bedding accessories
- Have a party to celebrate the move to their big bed
How to tell when you’ve moved your child too soon
Some parents move their toddler into a toddler bed only to doubt whether they’ve made the right choice. Some children may be temporarily upset by the move. If this is the case for your child, continue to be positive about the transition and stick it out for a few nights. If they still aren’t coping, you may be better off moving them back into their crib and trying again in a couple of months.
Your toddler will need to have reached a certain stage of development to comprehend the concept that their bed no longer has walls. Instead, they have to remain inside the bed area themselves. If your child persistently has trouble sleeping, frequently falls out of bed or goes wandering in the night, these are all signs that you’ve made the switch too soon.
How do I choose the right crib or toddler mattress?
Whether you’re shopping for a crib or a toddler mattress, there are certain features you should always look out for to make sure you’re getting a healthy, safe and comfortable sleeping surface for your little one. Before you buy, ensure any mattress fulfils the following requirements:
Supportive: The most important aspect of any child’s mattress is that it’s supportive and comfortable. Otherwise, they won’t have the support the need to sleep well and grow healthily. For a baby, the mattress should be very firm. Toddlers usually require a softer mattress
Breathable: Breathability is a particularly important feature of any crib or toddler mattress. Breathable mattresses allow air to circulate freely and heat to escape. This is vital as night time overheating can be dangerous for babies and young children
Water resistant: Any parent will tell you that babies and toddlers are leaky creatures. A water-resistant mattress will stop anything unpleasant seeping into the mattress and making it unsanitary. Many come with water-resistant covers that are removeable and machine washable for easy cleaning
Certifications: Unfortunately, some mattresses are made using chemicals that could pose a risk to human health. Young children are particularly vulnerable, especially if they have a respiratory condition such as asthma. Look out for mattresses carrying either the Certi-Pur or GREENGUARD Gold certifications. This means that the product has been extensively tested to ensure it contains no harmful substances
Hypoallergenic: Many babies and toddlers have allergies triggered by bedding which can disturb their sleep. For this reason, it’s important to purchase a hypoallergenic mattress for your little one
Made in the USA: We recommend that you only consider purchasing mattresses manufactured in the USA, especially if you’re buying for little ones. Mattresses made in the USA have to conform to very strict safety regulations. If you buy from overseas (apart from Canada, which has similar requirements), you can’t be sure the mattress is safe for your child to sleep on
The bottom line
It’s certainly possible to use a crib mattress in a toddler bed. However, you are likely to find that a regular crib mattress designed for babies is too uncomfortable for your toddler to sleep on. To solve this problem, you may wish to invest in a dual-sided rib mattress to save yourself the expense and hassle of shopping for a new mattress once your little one is too old for their crib.