Many 2-year-olds are ready to move out of the crib and into a bed.

Is a Toddler Bed or Twin Bed Better for a Two-Year-Old?

by Stacey Chaloux

Now that your little girl is 2, you're probably wondering if it's the right time to transition her from a crib to a bed. But which bed? Toddler bed? Or twin? A toddler bed is small and low to the ground, and uses a crib mattress. That's a plus. And if money's a concern (let's be honest, now -- it usually is), going straight from a crib to a twin bed means you won't have to buy another bed in between. Whichever one you decide -- toddler or twin bed -- you want to know everything you can about safety.

1. Safety Concerns

Whether choosing a toddler or twin bed, it's best to keep the bed low to the ground. Little ones twist and turn in their sleep, and they may fall out of bed, especially while learning about the boundaries of their new bed. He might scoot all the way to the head of the bed -- and if the bed ends at the wall, he could bump his head. If you start with the mattress on the floor, he can adjust to the new bed safely. Sometimes, he starts the night at the head of the bed and ends up at the foot of the bed come morning. The bed should also have side rails, so that if he rolls to the side, he won't fall out. The mattress should fit snugly into the bed, so that a child won't accidentally wedge himself between the bed and the mattress. Make sure that there are no slats in the headboard or footboard in which little fingers can be trapped and possibly injured. The last thing you want to hear in the middle of the night is a blood-curdling scream for help.

2. Feeling Secure

Since a toddler bed generally uses the same mattress size as a crib mattress, a toddler bed may feel more comfortable to a young child who's moving out of his crib. A big bed can be scary to a toddler who's used to a more confined space. If you want to move him to a twin bed, talk about it in a positive way. "Look how big you're getting -- time for a big-boy bed!" You can point out other family and friends who also sleep in "big beds" to help him feel more secure with the change. For a few nights, you may need to stay in the room with him for a few minutes, but gradually wean away from this, so he'll learn to fall asleep in his new bed -- all by himself.

3. Consistent Routine

For a toddler, moving to a bed is huge! Try to keep this event separate from any other major life event, such as a new baby sister or moving to a new city. Keep his bedtime routine consistent -- if you read to him, rock him or sing to him, continue the same routine once he's all tucked-in in his new bed.

4. Costs

Since both toddler and twin bed can be safe, using either one will require some transition for your little tyke. It's time to talk reality. A toddler bed costs less than a twin bed. If you feel your choice must be based on cost -- then go with it -- and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Not only can you buy a toddler bed for less than a twin, but if the crib mattress is in good condition, you won't have to buy a new mattress. Toddler beds, however, have a limited lifetime, because they're not upgradeable as your daughter grows. They're designed only for children up to age four, so you'll have to buy a bigger bed after she grows out of the toddler bed. Go with what works for you.

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