How to Convert Crib to Toddler Bed: Step-By-Step Instructions

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How to Convert from Crib to Toddler Bed

Transition Time: Converting from Crib to Toddler Bed

Babies grow up faster than you think. They’re learning to crawl one minute, and the next minute, they’re bolting out of their cribs like Olympic gymnasts. The time comes when you have to rethink the whole crib sleeping arrangement.

Instead of spending more money on buying a completely new bed, it is possible to covert crib to toddler bed. This way, your wallet and your growing child will thank you.

How to Know it’s Time for the Toddler Bed

With your end goal being to convert crib to toddler bed, the first thing in mind is deciding on when the time is right.

This timing will vary based on individual toddlers. Some parents may say it’s best to convert once your child gets the hang of climbing out of the crib. Others focus on their child’s size, converting when they look like they could use a bit more space and flexibility to get in and out on their own.

Only you can ever know the appropriate transition time for your toddler, but the tidbits above should at least give you some guidance so you know what to be on the lookout for.

Convert Crib to Toddler Bed: Convertible Crib

These days, many cribs are made in a convertible style. Some are two-in-one or even three-in-one, allowing you to take the bed up to youth sizes.

Below is a detailed breakdown that should help you convert crib to toddler bed with next to no hassle.

What You’ll Need

  • L-Bracket
  • Screwdriver

Step 1: Choose a Guardrail

Many convertible cribs already come with the tools needed to convert them. This includes a toddler bed rail. If yours did not come with one, it’s simple enough to purchase it online or in the store.

Make sure the guardrail is sized appropriately. It shouldn’t hinder your child’s access or exit from the bed. You can find a universal toddler guardrail kit since they are specifically designed to fit most mainstream cribs with no problems.

Step 2: Clear Out the Crib

Everything from the crib must go. If you can’t remove the mattress without removing the dropside, proceed to the next step first and then clear the crib out.

Step 3: Remove the Dropside

To convert crib to toddler bed, you will have to remove the dropside. If you aren’t aware, the dropside is the side of your child’s crib that hangs lower than the other side. The toddler guardrail is intended to replace that.

With some cribs, this process is simple as the dropside slides off. However, other models require tools. It’s still easy as you just need to remove screws from either side using a screwdriver, electric or manual.

When you want to convert crib to toddler bed, you might want to give your kid access to the bed from both sides. If this is the case, follow the instructions on removing the dropside and carry on.

Step 4: Install the Guardrail

Before proceeding, check that you have the right hardware. Your guardrail should have come with the necessary brackets to mount. If they didn’t, be sure to purchase the required hardware.

To install, take one L-bracket and screw it on the inside of each of the rail posts. A manual screwdriver will do the trick here.

Ensure that the foot of the bracket is flush with the post while the vertical part of the bracket is lined up with the center of the post.

Attach the Guardrail

Once the L-brackets are installed, position the guardrail on the bed. The end posts and brackets should line up on two different slats on the crib.

How much room your child has depends on the rail. Generally, rails are somewhere in the middle. To convert crib to toddler bed in this case, make sure there’s enough room for your child to get in and out. About 8-9in. space from the rail to the headboard and the rail to the footboard is enough.

Other rails are designed to attach in line with the footboard or headboard. There’s little difference beyond cosmetic.

When you convert crib to toddler bed, two screws should be used with each bracket when you attach the rail. When everything is screwed on, attempt to move the rail around.

Some models do have a tiny bit of wiggle to it, and that is normal. However, an obvious wobble means that the rail is not attached tight enough. If this is the case, go back and check all of your screws to make sure everything is as it should be.

If the rail still wobbles after screwing everything in tight, then perhaps the guardrail is not appropriate for the crib. You may need to opt for a different model.

If you want to install a guardrail on both sides of the crib, then follow the previous instructions on the opposite side. For those of you that just want to remove the other side without giving your kid access to it, move the bed against the wall to keep them from falling out.

Step 5: Remake the Bed

Now that the rail (or rails if you want both sides done) is installed, simply re-make your child’s bed. Your budding toddler now has an appropriate, safe bed to sleep in and jump out to explore all they want.

Convert Crib to Toddler Bed: Stationary Crib

Interested in doing a DIY project for your newfound toddler? If you have a stationary crib and wish to still make use of it, then DIY is your best bet.

Much of the same principles of converting a convertible crib to a toddler bed still apply, but you’ll have to take things a step further.

What You’ll Need:

  • L-Bracket (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Router (optional)
  • Sand Paper (optional)
  • Saw
  • Screws (optional)
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood (optional)
  • Wood Glue (optional)

Step 1: Find the Space

When you convert crib to toddler bed this way, it isn’t as quick as unscrewing the necessary screws. There is sawing that will take place, so it might be best to do this far away from your baby’s room such as the garage or somewhere else outdoors.

Step 2: Clear the Crib

Of course, before you do anything, take out everything from the crib. That way, everything you need to saw or unscrew is clear.

Step 3: Adjust the Height

For the average bed, use a screwdriver (electric may be faster) to adjust the sides and base to their lowest point.

If you want to fancy things up, you can convert crib to toddler bed loft-style. You’ll move the base and sides to their highest point instead. If you do this, you’ll need a ladder for your child.

Step 4: Remove the Side

Cut out one of the long sides of the crib. You can trim it, but you’ll have to work carefully so you won’t cut something you’ll need.

It might be easier to remove the entire side of the crib if possible before trimming. This way, you won’t risk any damage to the crib. When trimming, the new edge should remain flush with the vertical slats.

Place the new trimmed side back on the crib, checking its sturdiness. You can also install an L-bracket to the edge of the rail. This ensures your little one won’t break it no matter the amount of pressure they put.

To convert crib to toddler bed the usual way, your job is finished at this point. If you’re opting for the loft-style, then head to the next step.

Step 5: Create the Ladder

Take the leftover wood from the railing and trim down the slats large enough for your toddler to step on as they’ll be the rungs. From there, gather two pieces of sturdy wood such as pallet wood.

The length you’ll cut depends on the height of the crib, so take your measurements from there. Cut at an angle, preferably 45-degrees, so the bottom edge is flush with the floor. Create grooves the size of the rungs in the ladder with the router. Wood glue will secure it all. If not, add some screws.

Cut a notch at the top of the ladder to fit it on the side of the bed and secure that with screws and wood glue. Always test the ladder to make sure it won’t move around.

Step 6: Sand and Paint

You can sand and apply a fresh coat of paint to help the pieces blend together better.

Step 7: Remake the Bed

Now that all is said and done, you can finally make the bed and show off your creation to your overjoyed toddler.

Final Thoughts

Babies are growing up fast these days. If you want to keep up with them, give them the first taste of true independence by setting up a toddler bed. It’s far easier and budget-friendly to convert crib to toddler bed than buy a new one. Hopefully, our guide will set you on the right path.