I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Unlike some of the other parents (who consider themselves not so lucky (i.e. those with monkey climbers)), I was able to keep my daughter in her crib until after she turned 2.5 years old. Wanting to heed the advice of all the well-meaning parents who stated, “Don’t take her out of her crib until you have to!”, I decided to stretch out the time frame she spent in her crib for as long as possible. After all, she LOVED it and the last thing I needed when up with an infant all night was for my curious little toddler to come walking into my bedroom.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and so must the crib. Wanting to increase her independence with potty training, while simultaneously wanting to provide my back some relief (lifting a toddler in and out of a crib several times a day is tiring!), my husband and I made the decision to transition our toddler out of a crib into her “big girl bed”.
Within this post, I document all my research, trials (and errors), and advice that went into converting my daughter’s crib into her “big girl bed”. While this post may be relatively long, it is only because of the level of detail provided… guaranteed to save you MUCH time (and frustration) in the long-run.
Toddler Bed vs. Big Girl Bed
I was feeling some relief. After months of toying with the idea, we had finally made the decision to move our toddler out of her crib. Little did I know, I had another big decision in front of me. Feeling quite confident that this transition would be rather seamless given we had spent a few extra dollars when purchasing her convertible crib, we knew that we could easily convert her crib into either a toddler or full-sized bed down the road. However, so was born yet another decision to be made- toddler bed vs. full-sized bed (a.k.a. “big girl bed”).
I’m a list person, so out came my pen and paper and both the pros and cons were taken into consideration.
Pros: I can keep the same crib sized mattress. I wouldn’t have to purchase the convertible rails to convert to a full sized bed. There would be no worrying that she will fall out of her bed. I don’t have to do a large room configuration.
Cons: We’d have to buy the convertible 1/2 rail for a toddler bed and then soon later purchase the convertible rails to convert it to a full-sized bed. We’d be putting my daughter through two, instead of just one, transition and essentially be putting off the inevitable.
Full-sized/ “Big Girl Bed”
Pros: With one transition, a second transition wouldn’t be hanging over our head. Less money in the long run as we wouldn’t have to purchase first the toddler bed rail and then the full-sized conversion parts. We could snuggle in bed together during story time.
Cons: More money up front (would have to purchase a new mattress right away). Would have to reconfigure the room/remodel. More of a chance she could fall out of bed/more baby-proofing required.
After comparing our pros and cons and talking with experienced parents, we decided to go directly to the full-sized bed. Let me tell you, I am SOOO glad we did! After crunching the numbers, it turns out we saved money in the long run. Additionally, we only had one transition to go through (and turns out she did great!). Lastly, the process of converting, baby-proofing, and remodeling was far more effective and easy than you may think. While I would be lying if I told you it was without any hurdles, they were few and far between. Additionally, I’m hoping you can learn from my research and any of my mistakes and make the process even that much more effective!
Converting to a Full Sized/”Big Girl Bed”
The first thing you need to do when converting your convertible crib into a full-sized bed is to secure the appropriate parts. Not sure about whether or not I’d have one child out of their crib in time for another to utilize the same crib, I didn’t go ahead and buy the convertible crib conversion kit at the time of the crib purchase. After talking to other parents, my decision doesn’t sound all that unique. In fact, chances are that many of those reading may have a convertible crib without the appropriate conversion rails. If this sounds like you, you may have been doing endless Internet research and coming up short with findings. How do I know this? Because I was you!
My Epic Fail… Do Not Make the Same Mistake!
I can’t tell you how many searches I did and how many partial post information I read before finally deciding to attempt/trial and error the appropriate conversion parts myself. My first question was, “Will any old conversion kit work for my crib?” Here is the long and short of that answer, “Yes it could, but likely it won’t.” After reading, reading, and oh, did I mention reading?… I decided to purchase a conversion rail that was the same color as my crib and promised to act as a universal conversion rail. Heck, it even had TONS of reviews to back it. Unfortunately, after getting it delivered and my daughter eagerly anticipating a transition to her “big girl bed”, we were all super defeated to find out that it was NOT universal after all.
Now, you may be wondering, “Why would she not have just ordered the conversion rail that went with her specific crib?” Well, the answer is somewhat complicated but also one that many of you likely can relate to. 1) My crib was now a couple years old and the crib model had been discontinued (the original baby store from where it was purchased swore that the conversion kit could no longer be purchased). 2) For the life of me, I could no longer recall the specific name of the crib. I had the brand of the crib (Baby Cache) but each brand has about a million specific crib names. 3) The universal conversion kit was 1/2 the price of the crib specific ones so I was most tempted to try it.
* Affiliate links are included in this post. All this means, is that if you click on one of those links and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. However, you will not pay a penny more- promise!
So, I was back to the drawing board and growing frustrated. In a semi-panic (parenting problem panic that is ;)) I decided to call the baby store and ask if they had any conversion rails. Of course, (for the reason I listed above in #2) they told me they no longer sold those rails. They did tell me that they could order me the same colored rails in the same crib brand (not crib specific) but there was only a chance that it would fit. Oh and the best part, it would take 6-8 weeks to be delivered. Lastly, the price would be triple that of the universal kit I just had tried. So yeah… not happening!
Then like a ray of sunshine, my husband noticed that on the inside of the side pieces of the crib was a sticker with the specific crib name. (Note: the majority of all cribs will have this feature so look here first!) I then turned to every parent’s best friend, a.k.a. “AMAZON” and did a quick search for the crib name and conversion kit. And let me tell you…. it was as if the clouds parted and a huge weight was lifted (a bit dramatic I know but trust me, it was stressful ;)) and the specific conversion kit was listed (here is the specific one I used). NOT discontinued, NOT triple the price (actually only double the original universal kit price), and NOT taking 6-8 weeks (actually only took a few days!).
Once the “CORRECT” (as that makes ALL the difference) conversion kit parts had arrived, converting the crib into a full-sized bed took all of 20 minutes!
Do I Need a Boxspring?
My next question in my research was, “Is a box spring required with a convertible crib to a full-sized bed conversion?” This too can be a rather complicated answer, so let me break it down for you.
Essentially, the answer is “no”, you do not require a box spring with a convertible crib conversion. Sure, you could use one but you would end up creating a rather high bed for a toddler/child to climb into. Instead, most conversion kits come with slats of wood that will run perpendicular to the conversion rails and allow for a mattress to sit on top. However, to note, not all conversion kits include these slats (actually the universal one did not). If your kit does not include slats, or if you wish to add additional slats for mattress support (as we did with our bed knowing we may find ourselves lying in bed with our toddler for storytime) you can simply pick up a few slats from your local lumber store/Home Depot and add them yourself (cost us $25). (Not feeling particularly handy? Pre-made slats can also be purchased here for a reasonable price).
Purchasing a Mattress
Around the same time I was researching conversion rails, I also began to think about a mattress. My first question was, “What size mattress do I need?” Here is what the research told me, 1) a twin mattress will only work if you have a micro/mini crib (if you are not sure you have this, chances are you don’t as they are extra tiny cribs), 2) a queen mattress will be too large for the conversion rail spacing (I would not even recommend trying it), 3) a full-sized mattress is the perfect fit (trust me on this one)! (Why is Goldilocks and the three bears all of a sudden sticking out to me here ;)).
My next question was, “How can I find a good quality mattress without spending a ton of time on the search and having to either pay to deliver it to my home or find a way to get it there myself?” My answer, “Leesa”.
Full disclosure, I was provided with a Leesa mattress in exchange for my review, but as ALWAYS, I only recommend products that I truly love and all opinions included are 100% my own.
For the same reason I loved the ease of having my conversion rails delivered to my front door via Amazon, I knew I wanted the same with my mattress. As a busy parent, I must admit I had zero time for mattress shopping. Shlepping around a mattress store only to trial each one out, work with a salesperson (no disrespect, just don’t have the time for that), then have to wait for the mattress to arrive, and lastly have to pay for delivery or find a way to get it home myself was NOT in the cards for me.
What I needed was a quality mattress with numerous positive testimonials so that I didn’t have to worry the quality may be subpar. Additionally, I wanted a mattress that I knew I wouldn’t need to replace in a year or two and instead would grow with my daughter for years to come. What I also needed was a mattress that I could select and order online in a matter of minutes (I didn’t have the time for anything else). Lastly, what I needed was a mattress that would ship directly to my door and ideally for no charge. For all these reasons and more, I fell in love with Leesa. (Oh, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the fact that not only does Leesa plant a tree for every mattress sold, but it also donates one mattress to a shelter for every ten mattresses they sell!)
Only days after ordering the mattress, the box was delivered to my front door. I was baffled when I saw just how small the box was in comparison to a full-sized mattress. Saying my daughter was “excited” that this delivery was especially for her as part of her “big girl bed” would be an understatement… she was thrilled!
After carrying the box into her room, I must admit I was a bit skeptical to believe that within this relatively small box, a plush mattress was housed (Yet, my research told me that this mattress was unlike others in that it had three premium foam layers (2-inch Avena foam top layer for cooling and breathability, 2-inch memory foam middle layer for body contouring, and 6-inch dense core support foam for durability and edge support)).
Mattress Unboxing & Use
After a mere five minute of setup time (of which my daughter had a blast watching her mattress come to life!), it was safe to say I was definitely no longer skeptical. Within minutes the mattress sprung to life and became the perfect (and easiest) addition to my daughter’s crib-to-“big girl bed”-conversion.
Even above the benefit of the super convenient ordering, delivering, and setup process that this mattress allowed for; with knowing the importance of children’s sleep, it was very crucial to me that my child’s mattress provides the best night sleep possible. I loved (and continue to love) the fact that it is by far the most comfortable mattress I have ever laid on. (In fact, I’d be lying if I said that once or twice already I didn’t fall asleep on it when reading my daughter a bedtime story.)
If you are interested in purchasing your own Leesa mattress but are a bit unsure about ordering a product online (hey, I get it) rest assured that Leesa offers a 100-night risk-free trial with free shipping. Furthermore, be sure and enter code: SIMPLYSEPTEMBER at checkout for an extra $100 off your purchase!
Update: Leesa mattresses are now available to try and buy in over 88+ West Elm stores nationwide!
Note: Just a friendly parenting tip… the last thing you want to do is damage a beautiful mattress after your child has an inevitable bedtime accident or two (or 2 million). With that said, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a waterproof mattress pad (similar to the one here).
Ease of Remodel
Now that the decision was made to convert my daughter’s crib into a “big girl bed” and now that the appropriate parts necessary to carry out that decision were not only ordered but implemented, the final step was the decorating.
A few different elements and factors were considered before initiating the remodel. 1) For the same reason I wanted to transition directly to a “big girl bed” (instead of having a toddler bed first), I wanted the decor to grow with my daughter for years to come and not require updating/redecorating in only a year or two. 2) I wanted to incorporate as many elements of my daughter’s nursery as possible (i.e. utilize the same decor when feasible, after all… it was only a couple years old and much of it held sentimental value). 3) I was hoping not to spend a large sum of money. 4) I wanted the remodel to not consume too much time (once again, life is busy!) 5) Lastly, I wanted to incorporate my daughter’s input. Her one and only request being, “I want a pink room!”.
Before and After Photos
Before Photos (the tree mural was enhanced once our baby girl arrived)
How Did I End Up Doing?
1) For the same reason I wanted to transition directly to a “big girl bed” (instead of having a toddler bed first), I wanted the decor to grow with my daughter for years to come and not require updating/redecorating in only a year or two.
I ended up choosing an overall look that incorporated butterflies, soft colors and easily interchangeable features (i.e. baskets with stuffed animals and shelves with decor). I’m quite happy that the overall look works great for my two year old now and for many years to come.
2) I wanted to incorporate as many elements of my daughter’s nursery as possible (i.e. utilize the same decor when feasible, after all… it was only a couple years old and much of it held sentimental value).
When I was pregnant with my daughter I painted the white and gold tree pictured. I knew I didn’t want to paint over it only a couple of years later. For this reason, I decided to incorporate the tree into the overall look, adding 3D butterflies for an updated look that complemented her bedding. Additionally, I moved around as many photos (i.e. wall canvas) and wall decor as possible so that the room had an overall fresh look despite many of the items being used in the past. Lastly, I choose to keep her nursery glider so that she’d have a space for reading and relaxing as she grew.
3) I was hoping not to spend a large sum of money.
Thanks to repurposing old decor and shopping smart (who doesn’t love a good deal?!) I was able to create this entire look with only a few purchases (i.e. bedding elements, nightstand with complementing butterfly knobs, 3D butterflies for decor, Hiccapop Toddler Bed Rail Bumper).
4) I wanted the remodel to not consume too much time (once again, life is busy!)
Once the bed and nightstand were built and in place, the time it took me to move around a few pieces and redecorate was very minimal. In fact, I started after my daughter woke one morning and finished by the time naptime rolled around.
5) Lastly, I wanted to incorporate my daughter’s input. Her one and only request being, “I want a pink room!”.
I think it is safe to say she was happy with the pink elements :).
Overall, I would change nothing about our crib-to-“big girl bed”-conversion and redecorating process. Well, okay maybe not “nothing”… it would have been nice to have purchased the correct conversion parts from the start. However, I’m hopeful that my research along with trials (and errors) will help make this transition as easy as possible for you while spending very little time and energy along the way!
Best of luck!