When a child reaches three years old, he's at the point where he's no longer a baby, on the verge of outgrowing the toddler stage, but not yet a big kid either. That's why choosing a bed for a child this age can be perplexing. Of course, there is no one bed size that is right for every three-year-old. Consider your child's age, size and maturity, then make the choice that's best for him.
Although associated with infants rather than three-year-olds, a crib is a safe, secure option, according to renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Barry Brazelton. He recommends keeping a child in her crib until it is no longer feasible. Brazleton prefers cribs because their bars help kids get more sleep by keeping them in their beds. "When you move your child to a bed, you can no longer limit his ability to get up and explore," Brazleton writes. "Don't move a child out of his crib until you have no choice -- not until 3 or 4 years, if possible."
A toddler bed is a bed that can accommodate a crib-size mattress. They often have short rails on the sides for security. Because they are low to the ground and allow your child to remain sleeping on her familiar crib mattress, toddler beds are a good option for children who are intimidated or scared by the unfamiliar height and size of a standard bed. While they are a great advantage for children who have trouble transitioning from crib to bed, their small size makes them a temporary option that your child will soon outgrow.
Twin beds are practical options for three-year-olds. They are not as large as a full-size bed, but are long enough to accommodate a child through his early adult years and perhaps even beyond. Chances are your three-year-old is not assigned the largest bedroom in your home. Twin beds are smart options for small bedrooms, as they provide a sleeping area large enough for just about anyone, yet don't take up too much room. Because twin beds are a popular size for children, there are many bedding options available in twin size that are character themed and approved for three-year-olds. Use removable bed rails on your child's twin bed until he has mastered sleeping in one spot.
Full-Size or Queen-Size Bed
When thinking of your three-year-old's next bed, full-size or queen-size beds may not immediately come to mind. However, they are worth considering for several reasons. First, they are large and give your child plenty of room to roll around. Second, your child will never outgrow either of these sizes, making the purchase of yet another bed unnecessary. Third, they provide extra sleeping space if your child has a friend spend the night. Also, if you have guests, your child can sleep on the couch, in your room or with a sibling, and you can use your child's room as a guest room. Keep in mind that while you will be able to find child-themed bedding in full size, your options will be very limited in queen size.
In addition to standard beds, bunk beds and trundle beds are flexible options for kids' rooms. While, for safety reasons, it is not a good idea to allow a three-year-old to sleep on a top bunk, a bunk bed is a smart option if you are planning on having your children share a room, or if you simply want extra sleeping space for company. Trundle beds provide extra sleeping space that is closer to the floor.
If you are quite concerned that your child will fall out of bed, consider placing a mattress on the floor for a few months. This allows your child time to get accustomed to sleeping on a bed without rails, and if she falls, it is only a few inches to the floor.