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Second Crib vs. Toddler Bed

Second Crib vs. Toddler Bed

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

I just found out that I’m pregnant with baby number two (yayyyyy!!!). This nugget will be born next spring, three weeks before my son turns two. Things are amazing and baby is so happily expected and we can’t wait to have a family of four.

I’m a little worried though, because since I pounced on my husband at six in the morning with a positive pregnancy test all he’s had on his mind is changing things pretty dramatically for our son. Some of it I can get behind. Moving him to the bigger room down the hall and keeping the smaller room the “nursery”? Fine! Moving his car seat over so we can see the newborn easier? I’m on board.

What I’ve totally put my foot down on, though, is giving the new baby my son’s crib and getting him a new bed. I mean, it’s his bed!! We bought one of those convertible-type cribs and even bought all of the extra parts you need to go to toddler and full size bed so we’d have them years later. This is supposed to be the bed he grows up in! Husband keeps telling me he doesn’t understand why we’d buy another crib when we can just buy a toddler bed. I keep telling him we have a @#$%^& toddler bed already! All we have to do is convert it when baby is ready! Argh! And wouldn’t buying a toddler bed necessitate yet another purchase in a few years once he grows out of it? Oh yeah, we also have a full size bed conversion!! Argh again!

So other than the weird logic my husband is employing, I’m worried about changing his bed for a few reasons. First, I know having a new baby in the house is going to be a big deal for my son. He’s pretty independent but that’s a lot of change for a not-even-two-year-old right? I read (stalked) your archives recently and I saw that Noah had a hard time at first and he was three! I don’t want it to seem like the new baby is taking over everything in the world, even his motherf-ing bed!

Second, I’m just not convinced my son will be ready for a toddler bed by then. He has shown not ONE iota of a sign that he wants to get out of his crib (he’s 16 months right now). He doesn’t try to climb out and he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to exit the cage when I get him once he wakes up. In fact, I think he really likes it in there. It’s like his sanctuary. He’s comfortable in there and sleeps really well.

Third, and this is like the big one for me. The kid MOVES while he’s asleep and while he’s falling asleep. I mean he must travel over a mile before he goes to sleep because he tosses and turns to calm himself down. Not only do I think he’ll probably fall out of the bed if it only has a wimpy toddler railing on it, but OMG getting him to stay in it long enough to fall asleep is not something I can take on as a heavily pregnant lady or with a newborn. Like, I can’t even.

So! What would you do in this situation? I’d just like to buy another convertible bed and all of the parts again because I thought it was a fabulous plan! Will taking my son’s bed and giving it to the squawking intruder damage him or is this my crazy worrying hormones? Talk me down if needed, girl!

Sincerely,
(Almost) mama of two
Haaaaa, what timing! I love when questions arrive in my inbox that dovetail perfectly with stuff happening in my own life.

We gave away our crib last weekend. A crib that had served all three of our babies with honor, dignity and blissful confinement. It was technically a convertible crib — we never bought the conversion kit, though, and I couldn’t even say for sure if it’s still available, as the crib is over nine years old at this point. Plus the bedroom is very small and we ended up needing a loft style bed for our oldest to accommodate a desk and some storage YADA YADA NOT EVEN THE POINT.

My point is, we gave it away to friends who are expecting their second baby this winter. Their first baby will only be about 20 months old when his baby brother arrives. And yeah, their first baby is staying in his damn crib. They have absolutely no intention to rush him into a toddler or full-sized bed anytime soon, and I think that is a wise, WISE decision.

We did upgrade our boys to beds so the crib would be vacant by the time the next baby arrived, but we were dealing with a different age spread (3 and 2.5) than “just under two.” And obviously, different kids. My oldest two were good, reliable, heavy sleepers who stayed relatively still on their mattresses. But they were also making attempts to climb out of the crib. Okay then! Out you go.

AND THEN. I had my third. Who stayed in that blessed, wonderful crib until after his third birthday, and still took most of his naps there too.

It. Was. Glorious.

Great, reliable bedtimes and sleep patterns. Less fighting of sleep and naps. No pre-dawn wanderings. He didn’t mind being in the crib, he never tried to climb out, and so I left him in there for as long as humanly possible. I finally caved when when it was clear he was fully potty trained, even at night, and he’d wake up crying for someone to take him to the potty. Point of no return, I guess.

So. For what it is worth (hint: probably nothing), you can tell your husband that some weird person from the Internet agrees with you. Keep your son in his crib, for all of the reasons you mentioned. He’s young. He might not be ready, and waiting until too close to New Baby Time will probably be too much change all at once. (Have you read Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats? It’s about a [much] older brother’s resentment over a new baby getting all his old stuff. Very sweet, but yeah, it’s a real feeling for kids!)

And toddler beds are, in many cases, a completely temporary and skippable expense. If you wait until he’s older and ready, he can go directly from crib to “real” bed (just attach a removable guardrail at first). You might not even need the middle conversion setting, so buying a non-upgradeable toddler bed (plus mattress) and THEN a full-size bed (plus mattress) isn’t really a win over just buying (or borrowing, or Craigslisting) another crib.

FINALLY, dear God, you’re bringing home a newborn who — be definition — is not going to sleep. You’re not going to sleep. You’re going to NEED your son to sleep. Not the best time to be suddenly trying to keep him in a bed without bars, exploring his room, the house, what your eyeballs look like under your sleeping eyelids, etc.

You definitely win this argument from where I sit, but I guess I should  point out that “next spring” means you guys have a LOT of time here. There is definitely no reason to make any furniture purchases anytime soon, so while I’m totally on board with your plan, a lot can happen. Maybe your son WILL seem ready and willing to move into the big boy bed in a few months. Maybe once it’s a toddler bed he won’t even notice or care if you swap it out with something else and let the baby have it. So table this discussion for now, but once it comes up again and you’re still at an impasse, feel free to print this column out and say “AMY AGREES WITH ME.”

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Rosalie
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Rosalie

We just had our second (a boy) a month ago and our first (girl) will be 1.5 at the end of this month. We are using a bassinet until end of sept then putting our daughter on a mattress on the floor until she is ready for a “bed” and putting our son in her crib.

Katerina
Guest
Katerina

We were just in the same exact predicament, our son was just born on 8-11 the day after his sister turned 2 on 8-10! Months ago my plan was the same, move toddler into 2nd larger room and change nursery from boy to girl room and definitely buy a 2nd crib! However, the more I thought about it the more daunting it became. It was essentially like doing 2 rooms again! Redoing her nursery and doing a 2nd nursery! So we decided to leave her in her current room in her crib for now. We’ve been home only a couple… Read more »

IrishCream
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IrishCream

My girls are 22 months apart. We bought a toddler bed when my oldest was 20 months, thinking if we had it in their room for a few months, it wouldn’t seem as much like little sis was kicking the big kid out of her crib. My big kid had other ideas. From the first night we had it, she wanted to sleep in her big bed. Well okay then. We put a toddler lock on the inside doorknob of her room, to prevent wandering, and a bed rail to keep her from rolling out, and…done. No problems. In hindsight,… Read more »

Jenny K
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Jenny K

So my daughters are 1 and 26 months. I was in the same predicament, except my 2 year old was showing some signs that she could climb out of the crib. And she’s a terrible sleeper. She hates her crib and always wants to sleep with us (which is a problem for another column). We still have the newborn in her bassinet in our room. Unfortunately, on the day she turned 26 months old, my older daughter climbed out of the crib and broke her leg. I knew she could get out of the crib, but I didn’t think she’d… Read more »

Christine
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Christine

I don’t have a second kid, just the one, and he never tried to climb out of the crib. Not once. But OH! The fights he would start over getting IN the crib! When he was 18 months or so I gave up the fight and let him sleep on the twin mattress on his floor (we used it for night feedings, etc.) And… that was it. He was even so used to the crib that upon awaking he sat up in the middle of the mattress and cried out for me until I got him. He never even thought… Read more »

Kate F
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Kate F

I’d consider vying an inexpensive (but awesome) crib like the Gulliver from Ikea. $99, comes w a panel for toddler conversion, plus there’s a little guard rail for an exta $13. We’ve had one for 4 years and one for 2 and they are A+. My son was 23 months when baby 2 arrived, and no way was I going to mess w his sleep (and mine) at that point! He did some climbing at a couple points, but was easily taught that it wasn’t safe, and stayed in the crib till he was almost 3. After successful stay-in-bed training… Read more »

Tiffany
Guest

Let me chime in with another endorsement of the IKEA cribs. They’re inexpensive, well-made (no particle board, all solid wood, metal cams, etc.) and are very well rated by Consumer Reports and the Baby Bargains people. They’re very no-frills, but great for the price.

Susan
Guest
Susan

Yeah, my 4 1/2 year old still sleeps in her crib and her 11/2 year old brother has a matching one in the same room. I’m thinking that when he’s three I’ll just get them bunk bed set. She’s small enough that she’ll probably still fit in it then. 

It definitely helped her transition to losing everything that was once hers and hers alone. And yes, the containment factor is blissful. Still 😉

Karen
Guest
Karen

So do people actually use those conversion cribs as full beds? Because the people that I know who have them never use the conversion feature. They either give them away when they’re done with the crib phase, or end up not having room for a full bed, or they need bunk beds… They seem totally gimmicky to me.

Mary
Guest
Mary

Yep, we do.  In fact, both of our girls (5 1/2 and almost 2 1/2) currently sleep together in it as the full-sized bed — with a rail on one side so the younger one doesn’t fall out.  Then again, the older one climbed out of the crib at 18 months and the younger at 14 months.  So…

Amelia
Guest
Amelia

Yup, cribs pretty much rock (I’ve just bumped my toddler up to a bunk bed, and we’ve got the skipped naps and fall injuries to show for it.) Also, most newborns would be happy to sleep anywhere but a crib for the first few months (e.g., swing, bassinet, pack’n’play) so you’ve got lots of time.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Here’s what I would do, based on my experience of three kids, all under two years apart: don’t fret about it right now.  You have so many months until the new baby arrives, and your now 16mo (still basically a baby!) has a lot of growing up to do in those months.  It is hard to imagine now, and impossible to predict, what your big kid will be like at almost 2.  I had one kid who didn’t potty train until closer to 3 and wasn’t climbing out of the crib, and I had another kid who dove out of… Read more »

Jenn
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Jenn

My children (3 months and 25 months) have basically the same age difference as yours. We’re still in a 2 bedroom apt so the little one is sleeping in our room in a pack and play for now. But it has worked out super well. When he eventually sleeps straight through the night, we’ll put him in my daughter’s room. I think we’ll ugrade her to a twin bed (with rail) and give him the real crib then. By then, she’ll have had him around for maybe 9 months and any jealousy issues should have subsided, I hope. Pack and… Read more »

Carolyn
Guest

My kids are 20 months apart, and I was worried about the same thing! We decided to wait until after the baby was born to do any changes to my son’s bed, because the baby would be in our room for a few months in a Pack and Play. We did, however, take the front off of his convertible crib and add a toddler bed rail (I’d had a C-section and couldn’t lift him in and out of the crib, so this was a necessity for me). Both my kids move ALL over the place at night, and both have… Read more »

Jenny
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Jenny

I am by no means offering advice because each kid and parent and parenting team is different. But, I just want to offer a bit of comfort in what we were faced with and the outcome. We found out we were having twins when my son was 17 months old. As much as we would have liked to keep him in his crib there was just no way we were going to purchase TWO more cribs and have three total in our house! Good grief! Our son was then 21 months old when the twins were born. Four months before… Read more »

Myriam
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Myriam

My daughter was out of her crib by 10 months old. My back was killing me putting her down and take her out of the crib. So, we switch to a toddler bed with a gard rail on it and she was fine. Never fell out of it, never tried to get out until she was much older. We upgraded her to a full size bed for her 3rd birthday (present from the grand-parents). She loves it. If you decide against buying another crib, you could always put the mattress on the floor for a while, that way, if your… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

I think it can go either direction. We had a huge change in life circumstance when my son was 20 months, and I was 15 weeks pregnant with #2. We moved across the country and the crib was packed away with the moving company. I found a used toddler bed on Craigslist because we were all in a 1 bedroom until we could get into a house (3 months later). My 1st moved and tossed a lot but he learned fast how far the edge was and only fell out a few times onto the carpet. By the time the… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

Our firstborn was only 1.5 when number two came along, and there was no way we could have moved him out of his crib. He’s 2.5 now, still loves his crib, and honestly, it’s the best. He too is a HUGE nighttime mover – he rolls and flips all over the place in his sleep and is nicely contained. He seems to genuinely like and feel safe in his crib – he has never tried to climb out. If out of the crib he can tear his room apart in 3 minutes flat and happily bang against his closed door,… Read more »

Sarah in Georgia
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Sarah in Georgia

My experience, for what it is worth…. My two are 27 months apart. My son was climbing out of the crib at 20 months, so I took the front off of our convertible crib to make it a toddler bed. He did fall out once or twice, so I slid a twin mattress under the bed, so he had something soft to fall onto. When we had a full house of company that Christmas, I took the crib apart to move it into our room, but he decided instead to sleep on the couch in our room. So after Christmas,… Read more »

Sarah in Georgia
Guest
Sarah in Georgia

Another thought…

We do have Web cams in both kid’s rooms, and it’s a great way for me to check on them when their sleeping or when the playing gets too quiet. That was something I knew I wanted to double-up on when baby #2 was on the way.

Cassie
Guest
Cassie

DON’T DO IT! Keep your first in the crib! My kids are 29 months apart (so, almost two and a half). My oldest started climbing out of his crib two months after turning two and he was FAST. Like, we’d kiss him goodnight and he’d be next to us when we go to close the door. So, we had to move him to a big boy bed (and we went with the twin we already had plus a removable guardrail).  It took a solid MONTH to get him to stay in bed when we said goodnight. Then we went on… Read more »

Katie
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Katie

So…I was feeling exactly the same as you while pregnant with my second (two boys, 20 months apart) when at 18 months, my oldest started diving out of the crib. At least we hadn’t bought a second one yet :). A solution that worked great for us was to buy a set of stackable bunk beds. DH then set up the top bunk (on the ground, as a single) but with all the safety rails. Toddler moved to that, baby got the crib. Now I have a five year old in the top bunk, and his little brother on the… Read more »

christine
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christine

I have to chime in here, because we did something weird… Initiated by my husband and totally opposed by me, at the start. Our second boy essentially never saw a traditional crib his whole babyhood even though we had one in our basement available.  Co-sleeper for a few months, and then we moved him into a smallish pack-and-play that we could easily move from room to room to adapt to whatever else was going on in the house during naptime, which worked great.  I wanted to keep him in the pack and play until he physically would no longer cram… Read more »

Sara
Guest
Sara

My son stayed happily in his crib until a couple of weeks before his 4th birthday.  He loved his crib, didn’t try to climb out (although he could of if he’d tried).  So, if your husband is thinking that your older child will be moving to a toddler bed very soon after the birth- just some ammunition that that may not be the case.  I did an informal survey of the kids at my son’s preschool, and while most of them transitioned before he did, many were still in cribs until about 3.5.  Cribs are awesome.

Leslie
Guest
Leslie

My first two are 20 months apart and I definitely let my older daughter continue to sleep in her crib until she was a little over two. My younger daughter slept in a pack n’ play until she started rolling over at 4-5 months. I just randomly made the switch one night while my husband was at work, and it was somehow just fine. I think beds are one of the few totally personal spaces a little kid has, and it just seemed weird to switch that before the next baby came along. My family, for some whacked-out reason, is… Read more »

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

My boys are 21 months apart. We went back and forth on the “new crib/new toddler bed” issue. Not so much arguing, just having a hard time deciding. Our older son was sleeping VERY well in his crib and never tried to climb out. Honestly though, with my big belly and the mattress at the lowest rung, I was having a hard time getting him in/out of it. We ended up buying a pirate ship toddler bed (he LOVES Jake and the Neverland Pirates). The mattress basically sits on the ground, with a bumper surround. He LOVED this bed in… Read more »

Susan:)
Guest
Susan:)

My nieces are 21 months apart. When the younger one was born, she stayed in the bassinet in her parents room for a few months. Meanwhile, we put a mattress on the floor in the older one’s room and she transitioned to it. Once the younger one was ready to move to the crib, we moved the older one’s mattress to a new room, so they didn’t disturb each other’s sleep ( they had very different sleep patterns). The older one had no trouble adjusting to the new bed or room, and the timing was good for potty training too.… Read more »