The Toddler Bed
As parents, we hold our babies close and try to keep them little for as long as possible; that's our job. Maybe that's why it's so hard to determine whether or not they are ready for a toddler bed, because to us to us they're still just babies! Luckily, they're really good about telling us that the crib just isn't working out anymore.
Most children are ready for a toddler bed before they can speak, and they give us little clues as to when they are ready. Granted, toddler clues can be crazy, so the sooner we figure them out, the better. It's important to remember that every child is different. One little guy might be ready for a toddler bed before he turns one, and another little one might make the transition well after the year mark. It all depends, but when they're ready, they'll tell you in little ways like these:
- you're sleeping, you feel somebody staring at you, and you open your eyes and see the tiny little version of yourself looking at you with darling eyes;
- it is your baby's nap time, but you're the one who's rudely awakened by a very slippery baby sitting in a lake of environmentally friendly dish soap – the Costco size;
- you're thankful that your wee one repeatedly escapes the crib without a scratch;
- you're speechless because you've just measured your little darling who once measured just over a foot and a half, now measures in a centimeter over three feet; or
- there's another baby on the way and you don't have two cribs for both your infant and toddler to sleep in.
If these sound familiar, then it might be time for the mighty toddler to get a new bed.
You know it's inevitable that your little one will do some major impact testing, so of course you're going to be searching for a bed that you'll feel comfortable putting your little jumping bean in. Whether you're going to buy, borrow, or make your tiny tot's new bed, here's a bit of bed advice.
The New Toddler Bed
The Juvenile Product Manufactures Association works in close conjunction with the ASTM, allowing manufactures of infant and preschool products to earn a JPMA certification. A complete list of manufactures and standards can be found at www.jpma.org; but for now, here's a list of manufactures that have certified toddler beds:
- AFG International, Inc.;
- Delta Enterprise;
- Dorel Juvenile Group/Safety 1st;
- Pail- Design; and
- Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc.
So, if you're headed to the retail store and see the JPMA seal, then you know that the product has been tested from side rail to side rail, slat to slat, spindle to spindle, end to end, bold to bolt, screw to screw, and mattress to bed frame. Their safety standards suggest that a certified product can withstand a toddler.
A Second-Life Toddler Bed
If the price tag of a toddler bed is heavier than the bed itself, then opting for a hand-me-down bed, or buying one secondhand, might be more fiscally appealing for you. But you still want one that will keep your little bundle safe, so put it through a little test of your own.
- It needs to have sturdy slats to hold the mattress and the little jumper.
- The space between the mattress and the bed frames should not be any larger than a wallet.
- Guard rails, headboards, and footboards should be firmly attached to the bed.
- Go ahead and lay on it. If it holds you, it'll hold your little dear.
- If you've got a sleeper who rolls a lot, make sure the bed is low to the ground.
- If your child's limbs or head can get stuck between slats or decorative cutouts, then it's a no go.
All toddlers grow up and into a bigger bed fairly quickly, so you know that there are plenty of good beds for sale. Ask family members and friends, look in the classifieds, and go to secondhand stores for kids to find one.
A Handmade Toddler Bed
If you're a DIY-er, then making a bed for your sweetie pie might be right up your alley. This website, www.ana-white.com, has free furniture plans to build toddler beds comparable to ones found in popular furniture stores. Making a bed for your little one has benefits, such as:
- you choose the materials it's made of- solid wood, no chemically treated pressed wood;
- you‘ll know how strong it is because you built it;
- your little side kick can help you out in the process which, by the way, might make the transition from a crib to a toddler bed even more exciting;
- building a designer bed yourself will save you a lot of money; and
- sometimes mattresses don't fit the bed well, but by building one yourself, you can customize a fit of perfection.
As with all other safety rules, make sure the handmade bed exceeds all safety expectations.
Once you have the perfect bed, put it in a safe spot away from potential hazards, like windows, cords, and outlets. So start looking for all the clues your toddler is giving you. Your wee man or little lady might even be ready for a sweet toddler bed right now. Once you have the perfect bed placed in a safe spot, all that is left to do is to read bedtime stories, and tuck in that precious little one.