Here’s an ongoing debate to shed some light on: what to pick in the toddler bed vs twin bed option when kitting out your child’s room. This decision is important once your baby can no longer sleep in the crib or you feel it’s time to transition from co-sleeping to your child having his or her own room. The question is which is the best decision for now and the future?
Personally, I’m just reaching that stage where I need to make this choice. My daughter is 2 years old, so in the coming months, I need to start planning the furniture for her room of the future. There’s a budget to consider, practicality, and much more. So I thought I would get a head start and do some research so long.
Planning this in advance – instead of simply popping out to shop for furniture – can save you a lot of tears. I mean for you AND your child. Our goal should be to keep the best interests of our children in mind, especially if it’s about a child’s bed which should be their safe spaces.
So, do you know what you’re buying yet? Remember, each household is different, so what works for your best friend’s child may not be ideal for you. Between the toddler bed and the twin bed, each has its own pros and cons which you’ll find out below. Use this information to make an informed decision with regards to child safety, your budget, and more.
Toddler Bed vs Twin Bed: What’s the Difference?
With these beds there are differences in terms of the following:
- Size: A toddler bed is the same size as a standard crib while a twin bed is a bit wider and longer.
- Height: Most toddler beds have very little floor clearance, catering to parents who are worried about children hurting themselves when climbing out of bed by themselves. While a twin bed can still be low, it’s higher than a toddler bed, so it’s not uncomfortable for older children to get up from. The height also affects the storage space underneath the bed. If this is a major concern for you, read my article on the best storage boxes to keep rooms tidy, so you can find practical solutions that work.
- Structure: With toddler beds, manufacturers understand the importance of safety features like side railings preventing a child from rolling off the bed while sleeping. This is necessary because they may still be used to the crib sides or you as a parent keeping them from tumbling out. Twin beds cater for toddlers but also other age groups, so although you’ll find some twin beds with railings on the side, it’s not a given on all of them. With a twin bed, you may have to attach railings yourself if you’re concerned about a smaller toddler rolling off.
What to Look for When Buying Any Bed for Your Child
Before diving into the pros and cons between a toddler bed and twin bed, I believe it’s a good idea to understand what to look out for when shopping for such furniture for your child:
- Is the mattress comfortable and will it last long?
- Does the bed structure align with recommended safety standards?
- What is a practical size to fit into the room without the space feeling cramped?
- Will the bed survive kids, for example jumping on beds or playing with crayons?
- Can this be a long term solution or will I need a replacement soon? Can I afford another purchase or must I buy a long-term solution now?
- If space is in short supply, is this a bed that allows me to optimize floor and storage space?
- How will this bed make sleepovers convenient?
You know which of these factors are your main priorities, so shop accordingly.
Toddler Bed vs Twin Bed: Pros and Cons
To help you pick in the toddler bed vs twin bed conundrum I summarized the benefits and drawbacks of each category.
- If you own a crib mattress there’s no need to buy a new mattress
- Takes up minimal space
- Most have safety features like railings
- You’ll easily find creative designs that toddlers will love, making the transition easier
- You’ll only use it for a short time because toddlers outgrow them by +/- 6 years of age
- No space for a parent to co-sleep
- Limited weight capacity means it can break if kids jump on the mattress
If you’re using your existing crib that transforms into a toddler bed you can make it more attractive for your growing toddler by repainting it. My article on how to paint a crib may help you find some inspiration.
- You have a long-term solution
- One less bed transition for your child
- You can fit onto the bed easily for storytime or for comforting your child
- More space means it’s comfortable for longer
- Additional expense of a mattress as well as new bedding
- You sacrifice more space than with a toddler bed
- Safety rails may be an additional expense
These days many of us enjoy some DIY projects and there’s no reason not to use your skills for your child’s safety. This video gives you an easy solution to optimize the safety of a twin bed by adding some simple rails.
When is a Child Too Old for a Toddler Bed?
You need to discern when your child starts feeling cramped and uncomfortable in his or her existing space. This will depend on their physical and mental development. An ideal age for the transition to a twin bed is four years of age but definitely no later than the age of seven.
How to Transition Your Child to a New Bed
Transitioning to a new bed can be smoother if you consider your child’s outlook on life. Toddlers may not appreciate change, so start a bedtime routine long before the bed transition and stick to it. Also, don’t make the transition part of another change, such as a new baby arriving. If everything happens at once the child will feel disoriented.
Also, include your child in the preparation phase because if they’re excited they’ll be more open to the change. For example, let them pick out the paint color or the new sheets. Prepare to practice extreme patience in enforcing bedtime rules. Good luck!
If you need some help, here’s a cheat sheet.
Top 10 Tips for Making Your Child Sleep in His/Her Own Bed
- Start with them sleeping on a mattress by your bed, instead of in your bed.
- Sleep in the child’s room with them to help them adjust.
- Once they’re expected to sleep by themselves, walk them back to their room the moment they enter yours – don’t delay.
- Make his or her room welcoming with a favorite toy, white noise or a night light – what do THEY prefer?
- Praise them when they stick to the rules.
- Upgrade childproofing across the house so you don’t have sleepless nights.
- Allow a child one ‘pass’ to exit the room each night, to get a drink or to go to the bathroom. Having a sense of control will make them more likely to comply with the rules.
- Make the bedtime routine special with a song or a story.
- Ignore manipulative crying. It will pass.
- Decide ahead of time what the consequence of misbehavior will be and be prepared to enforce it.
Bed Mattress Dimensions
Here’s a quick reference list about the dimensions of the mattresses for these beds. It should give you an idea of what will fit in your space, as long as the bed itself isn’t designed too bulky:
- Toddler mattress: 28” x 52”
- Twin mattress: 38” x 75”
- Short twin: 34” x 75”
- Twin XL: 38” x 80”
A twin XL can serve someone well into adult years, even becoming the bed they use throughout school and college years. You can see the industry caters for different needs.
Remember, many beds are designed for a specifically sized mattress, so make sure the frame you buy will match your mattress.
My Top Picks
- Best Themed Toddler Bed to Keep Younger Toddlers Entertained – Delta Children Toddler Tent Bed, Disney Mickey Mouse
- Safest Toddler Bed for Older Toddlers – Big Oshi Contemporary Design Toddler & Kids Bed
- Best Twin Bed with Storage Space – Zinus Lorelei 12 Inch Platforma Metal Bed Frame
- Best Space Saving Twin Bed for Small Rooms – Metal Twin Loft Bed
Best Themed Toddler Bed to Keep Younger Toddlers Entertained
Delta Children Toddler Tent Bed, Disney Mickey Mouse
Kids are more likely to comply with your wishes if they feel stimulated and entertained. So, why not use that aspect to help them feel more inclined to sleeping in their own beds? With this Disney themed toddler bed your child won’t be able to wait until bedtime so he or she can sleep with their favorite characters. The roll-up door makes it even more interesting.
It has all the necessary safety features you want for a small child, such as guard rails, and you can easily check on your child during the night thanks to the see-through mesh windows. Although certain components are made of plastic, it has sturdy steel in its frame and can hold up to 50lb. The product is safe according to CPSC and ASTM standards.
Safest Toddler Bed for Older Toddlers
Big Oshi Contemporary Design Toddler & Kids Bed
Here you have a stylish alternative to a toddler bed and the wood finish will match with any room decor. This makes it a smart purchase because you can use it for all your kids, no matter boys or girls.
It’s the safe toddler bed option thanks to the design that’s low off the ground and it contains safety rails. The rails are on both sides, so you can place the bed anywhere in the room and have peace of mind at night. By only being eight inches off the ground, toddlers don’t have far to go if they do decide to get out without your help.
It has a non-toxic finish and the sturdy, solid pine wood frame will remain in place, even if toddlers start jumping on their beds. The high weight capacity of 60lb shows you’re buying quality. The bed carries ASTM’s stamp of approval.
Best Twin Bed with Storage Space
Zinus Lorelei 12 Inch Platforma Metal Bed Frame
A bed should be a practical addition to a room and if space is your concern – especially in second bedrooms that are often much smaller than main bedrooms – this twin bed is a practical solution. Give your child a more grownup place to sleep while still having ample storage space under the mattress thanks to 12” floor clearance.
The steel frame is durable and will last for years, so you can use this as your child’s bed for a long time. The 5-year warranty is proof of this. The understated black finish looks stylish and can match with any decor as your child’s interests change over the years.
With a weight capacity of 250lb, children jumping up and down on their beds shouldn’t create any safety problem.
Best Space Saving Twin Bed for Small Rooms
Metal Twin Loft Bed
Children love the idea of sleeping in an unconventional type of bed like a bunk bed, so why not swap out their baby furniture for this twin bed? You may opt to only purchase it when your toddler is a bit older, but this is safe thanks to the steel rails that go all the way around. It can also take up to 200lb, so it’s perfect for friends sleeping over. Your child will be comfortable because the frame provides enough support so there’s no need for a box spring.
This is one of your best options if you’re furnishing a small room because you won’t lose any floor space. Underneath the bed, there is space for a play zone, drawers, or a desk once your child starts going to school, so this is another smart long-term investment.
To you, it may simply be another piece of furniture, but the bed you pick for your child will be his or her safe space. In the question of toddler bed vs twin bed, you decide what’s best. Make sure it’s suitable so they find it comfortable and not too daunting after the limited space in the crib. Also, consider your budget and plan long term so you can offer your children the best possible during each stage of their lives.
If you do have tips for the rest of us about transitions and bed choices, please remember to comment.
Last update on 2021-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API