How Does a Convertible Crib Work?

A crib, a toddler bed and then a twin bed are expenses parents face before their kid reaches age five. A convertible crib can turn three purchases into one. Convertible cribs are full-sized, wooden cribs that can serve as both toddler beds and twin-sized beds when adjusted. They are usually more expensive than standard, non-adjustable cribs, but many parents feel that in the long run, they will save money because they won't have to buy a toddler bed, followed by a standard twin bed. The investment provides a bed that lasts through childhood and is perfect for those who want to be prepared for the long haul.

Nursery interior. Mock-up.
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How Does a Convertible Crib Work?

Build the Crib

New parents get the thrill of a DIY project when building the first crib. Cribs that transform into both toddler and twin beds will need to be assembled with care to future uses. Be careful not to screw in screws too tightly that they cannot be removed in a few years. Take care not to scratch the paint when building and converting the bed frames. All convertible cribs have different instructions for converting, based on the design of the crib, but there are some similarities.

Converting the Crib into a Toddler Bed

When the baby is ready for a big-kid bed, the crib turns into a toddler bed. In all convertible cribs, one side of the crib is removed and replaced with a low safety rail. The safety rails are designed to protect a toddler from rolling out of the bed, but are low enough on one end so that the toddler can easily crawl into the bed. In drop-side cribs, the drop side is usually the only side that can be removed and replaced with the rail. In cribs with secure rails (designed to drop the mattress, not the rail), either side of the crib can be removed by simply unscrewing the bolts and lifting the side out. Then, the railing can be installed using the same bolt holes, nuts and screws. You will end up with a tall headboard, footboard, one high side and the other low, toddler rail side; similar in looks to a daybed. This toddler bed uses the crib mattress and box springs. The side rail can be removed when the toddler is more comfortable sleeping in the bed.

Converting the Crib into a Twin Bed

To convert the crib into a twin bed, the crib must be taken completely apart. In good news, some manufacturers provide conversion kits to make this process easier. Simply disassemble the crib as you assembled it. Remove the box springs and mattress completely, and the short sides of the crib. Store these in a dry, cool location. Keep the two wide, tall sides of the crib. These will be the headboard and footboard. Purchase a twin-sized box spring and mattress, and attach the headboard and footboard to the box spring. Some crib manufactures sell side rails that you can purchase to match the headboard and footboard, but not all do.