Transitioning your child from a crib into a toddler bed is equally exciting and terrifying. On one hand, he's growing up and experiencing new things. On the other hand, you're opening yourself up to nights full of him running out of his crib and never going to sleep. With all of this going on, the last thing you want to be stuck doing is buying a new bed for your child. Fortunately, you can install a toddler rail on your existing crib, converting the crib into a toddler rail and saving yourself a lot of time and money.
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Determine if your child is ready to transition from a crib into a toddler bed. You'll never truly know when she's ready, but if she isn't, there's no sense in forcing her. According to BabyCenter.com, many people believe that the time to move your child is when she starts to climb out of her crib, but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Childproof your child's room. It's very likely that he will spend lots of time running around his room after he learns he can escape his toddler bed, so be ready. Pay special attention to any outlets or wires that he can reach. Also, be sure that his dresser cabinets have locks installed so that he cannot use the drawers to climb to the top of the dresser, which can result in serious injury.
Lower the mattress to its lowest possible level. The mattress level must be low enough to line up with the toddler rail. This also allows your child to enter and exit the bed with ease. Depending on what kind of crib you have, this might require you to remove parts of the crib to access the mechanisms that raise or lower the mattress.
Remove the dropside from the crib. The dropside is the side of the crib that hangs lower than the rest of the crib. In some models, the dropside can slide off the rest of the crib. For all other models, tools will be required to remove the dropside. This can usually be done by removing some screws; however, some cribs are more complicated. Consult your crib's instruction manual before removing anything from the crib.
Install the toddler rail on the crib. You will almost certainly need tools to install the toddler rail, so check the instructions and make sure you have everything you need before you start. Take extra care to ensure that the toddler rail is securely fastened to the rest of the bed. You may find that the toddler rail has a little bit of give, which is normal in some models, but if the rail wobbles too much, it might not be safe for your child.
Place pillows by the areas where your child can escape the toddler bed. Your child is bound to explore her new surroundings, which may include running out of the bed or trying to climb over the toddler rail. It's wise to plan ahead by putting pillows in the areas where she's most likely to land. This will provide peace of mind for you and your child. As she becomes more familiar with her bed and you become more comfortable with the possibility of her leaving her crib after bedtime, you can remove the pillows.