Get more use out of a convertible crib

Our daughter used her crib for less than two years. It started to lose its usefulness when she began to climb out of it. We also decided to move her into a “big girl’s bed” when we moved into our new home. If we had gone with a convertible crib, we could have easily doubled the time she used her crib. Convertible cribs, for those who don’t know, are cribs that convert into smaller beds. This makes the transition to a regular bed a bit easier for some children, and definitely easier for parents.

The crib pictured is the Davinci Emily Convertible Crib. The large rail on the back of the crib can eventually be used for a headboard for a full-size bed, as shown. The day bed conversion rail kit, full size headboard and footboard are included with this and most convertible cribs. There are many different makes and models of convertible cribs, so make sure you shop around. Also, don’t be afraid to look for cribs on craigslist or garage sales–these are options that can save you a lot of money.

46 Comments for “Get more use out of a convertible crib”

  1. posted by Benjamin M. Strozykowski on

    We bought a convertible crib for our son, and he’s getting close to being able to climb out. I can’t believe our foresight when we bought it, but I’m sure glad we did.

  2. posted by deano on

    eh.
    good idea in principle, but to us the cost did not outweigh the benefits — more than the cost of separate crib/toddler-bed/big bed combined.

    And, as soon as our sons are ready to transition to each next step, we’ll resale the old bed with zero regrets!
    Because the old bed doesn’t stick around, it’s a zero clutter scenario! ;-)

  3. posted by Sarah on

    Our twins are still in the crib stage of their convertible beds. I just can’t tell you how grateful I am I won’t have to get rid of the cribs and go find two big-kid beds to replace them. I’m thrilled we saved ourselves the hassle.

  4. posted by Doreen on

    We used the toddler bed stage of our convertable crib, but when it came time for a “real” bed, we bought a captains bed with a shelf headboard. That way we didn’t need a nightstand and we had more storage under the bed. The crib went to a member of my church that was about to become a grandparent for the first time and was planning to do alot of babysitting.

  5. posted by jocelyn on

    I probably won’t go with a convertible crib because, in my mind, I’ll need the crib for the second born and will have to get the first born a bed anyway. But I suppose that depends on how close together they are and how easy it is to get the first born to relinquish the crib.

  6. posted by Emma on

    Mine’s just about ready to move into a big bed and I’m wishing we’d got a convertable. We talked about it but in the end my mother in law bought us the cot as a gift, and we couldn’t ask her to spend more!

    I agree with jocelyn that if you’re planning to have two close together than a convertable may not be the best idea.

    I love the Davinci Emily crib you linked to although it looks a bit strange when in crib form.

  7. posted by Eric on

    What’s always bothered me is that the “toddler bed” portion of the conversion always seemed like it was far too high off the ground for safety. That and the whole problem of having to buy two conversion cribs if you have two rather than the much easier hand-me-downs.

    That and they always seemed big and gaudy to me.

  8. posted by becoming minimalist on

    we just converted our youngest’s crib into the toddler bed and removed the changing table! it looks great in the room. hoo-ray (for both the bed and the potty-training)!

  9. posted by L on

    This is bad advice financially, environmentally, and from a clutter perspective unless you intend to have only one child. A convertible crib such as the one you suggest purchasing costs $340. A regular crib can cost as little as $80 if you buy at Ikea (cheaper if you take hand-me-downs or get it on Freecycle, but don’t forget a new mattress for baby). A twin bed can be $100. So you’re talking about spending either $340 for each kid or spending as little as $180 for the first kid (crib + bed) and $100 per additional kid (since each additional kid will reuse the crib when the penultimate kid moves up to a bed. Terrible, terrible advice, Unclutterer. I’m surprised at you.

  10. posted by L on

    Oh and I forgot to mention you then have all these crib bits lying around. Eek.

  11. posted by Shalin on

    wow, that is a clever set of furniture :)

  12. posted by Kathleen on

    Convertible cribs look nice, I suppose. But what do you do when your second child comes along? It seems like a waste of money to me. Once the child is out of the crib, just put a twin mattress on the floor. When he is comfortable with that, add the box spring, and finally, the frame. No toddler bed needed.

  13. posted by Wendy on

    I had a convertible crib and used it for both of my children. Luckily they were far apart enough in age to do this – any closer and the overlap would have required a second crib. The problem for both children was that when the time came to covert from the toddler bed to a full size – I didn’t want to take up their room space with a full size bed. Its too big! I ended up getting them twin beds instead which gave the kids more space in their room.

  14. posted by Becky on

    We purchased a convertible crib for our son and it worked great for us. The cost factor that everyone is talking about is confusing to me. The convertible that we purchased from Sears cost the same as a traditional crib. There was nothing to store while in crib form and while converted to a toddler bed, the extra piece stored neatly under our queen sized bed. When he was ready for a full sized bed, all we had to purchase was a full sized mattress set. We only have one child, but our plan was to purchase another converible crib at that time so we would have another crib that would eventually turn into a full sized bed for the 2nd child.

  15. posted by Joyce on

    I found this article very insightful and useful as we just celebrated the arrival of our first child and decided to go with a convertible crib. However, I also found the following statement extremely scary … “Also, don’t be afraid to look for cribs on craigslist or garage sales–these are options that can save you a lot of money.”
    Everyone you talk to and everything you read about baby gear says specifically not to buy used car seats and cribs, because of the safety issue. The safety guidelines are constantly being changed about baby gear and you could never be sure if the item hadn’t been on some product recall list. I am all about saying a buck and am working hard to keep our home unclutter during this changing time with our family. Yet, the most important thing is the safety of the baby and can you truly be sure of the safety of something when it has been used by someone else?

  16. posted by Shannon on

    A friend purchased a convertible crib with matching changing table/dresser for her first child and plans to do the same for subsequent children. It is solid wood and a very classic style that will look good for decades. It converts to a double bed eventually. She plans to send the bedroom sets with her children when they grow up and move out.

    I thought this was such a nice idea if you have the means! I would have loved to move out of my parents house with a beautiful bedroom set that I didn’t have to buy! For her it’s not a waste, it’s a way of planning ahead to provide for her children.

  17. posted by jocelyn on

    @ Joyce

    I had heard that before about car seats -that because a car seat, like a bike helmet, is only good for one impact and then must be replaced, a person could not be certain that the used car seat was completely free of any structural damage.

    While I had also heard the advice never to buy a used crib, I don’t understand it. It seems like it should be possible to look up whether or not it had ever been recalled and the user’s guide and assembly instructions would make it obvious if a piece was missing. Why can’t a crib be used more than once?

  18. posted by Yolanda on

    Not only did we buy a convertible crib, we bought a convertible mini crib (http://www.toysrus.com/product.....Id=2574629), with the intention that this would be a neutral piece of furniture that my daughter could use for at least five years; or, at worst, would work as a guest bed some day.

    I fail to see how that is wasteful of space, money, or resources, as some of the commenters suggest. At $180, this crib cost far less than MANY of the cribs I priced while shopping. The footprint is perfect for our small nursery/office. And it’s a single purchase from which we get years of use, and not months. As for another child? Not everyone can/will have more than one child, or opt to have them close in age.

  19. posted by Cynthia on

    We have a convertible crib, well actually it is now a full size bed. But was a crib to begin with. The dresser was also a changing table. It’s great furniture and has seemed to hold up to the bed jumping, wrestling and everything else.

  20. posted by Tiffany on

    @L the problem with buying any kind of bed at Ikea is that they’re practically made of particleboard and fall apart at the drop of the hat. And I don’t know any little kids that don’t start jumping on their bed as soon as their little legs can hold them. So that first Ikea crib might cost $80, but what about the next three you have to buy when Little Precious destroys them all? I love Ikea’s other stuff, but you couldn’t pay me to sleep on one of their beds.

  21. posted by The Green Routine on

    If I ever have another child, I’m definitely going this route. We ended up buying three sets of furniture so far for my daughter, and she’s only 6. The baby stuff is cute for a couple of years, but then it starts to look weird as they get older.

    Honestly, I’ve had difficulty getting rid of my baby goods. Everyone is so concerned with safety, that even the local thrift store wouldn’t take my items like cribs and car seats. Ridiculous.

  22. posted by Jeremy on

    Regarding garage sale cribs: not all items a used. We purchased a brand new crib for $15 because the couple had bought it, and then their parents bought them a much nicer one instead. Fortunately my wife is thrifty and a great deal finder and would have never settled for a crib for more then $50, let alone $340! And since we want to have more than 1 child, a convertible crib doesn’t make much sense.

  23. posted by Eric on

    Crib standards are not that hard to understand. A few measurements and some common sense and you can pick up a crib for nothing. The crib I’m using now will be on its 5th child between two family members.

  24. posted by Erin on

    We bought a convertable IKEA crib / toddler bed on Craigslist for $40. Then we went and spent several hundreds of dollars on an orgnic matress but that is another story entirely.

    Now, 3 years later it has been used as a toddler bed, crib and toddler bed again. My son just moved to a “big boy bed” and the toddler bed has moved into the playroom as a “day bed” to hang out on and read. Eventually, I will sell it on Craigs list and probably get $40 for it.

  25. posted by Katherine on

    My friend was given a convertable crib for her son, but when he was teething, he chewed up the railings that would have become part of the full size bed. So, it was pretty much a waste because the bed would have looked really bad with teeth mark all over it. Be warned that kids can be very hard on furniture, and there is go guarantee that your crib will make it to be status in any kind of decent shape.

  26. posted by Cole on

    My wife and I purchased a Babee Tenda crib that converts into a junior bed. Original retail was $800, but we got it for $120 on Craigslist, and replaced any parts we could not clean with bleach by ordering replacements (teething rail, etc) directly from the company. It will save money and prevent it from going in a dump.

    L – not everyone purchases everything new, and those products seen here at Unclutterer are merely suggestions. We don’t have to zombie walk over to buy the pictured things. As many others have suggested, there are easy ways to pay much less and get much more out of children’s bedding.

  27. posted by M on

    Caution!!

    Please be careful buying a crib — especially an older crib — on Craigslist and yard sales. There are safety regulations as to how far the slats need to be distanced a part in order to prevent babies from getting caught.. I’m not sure what the actual distance is.. but worth checking. Don’t compromise $$ with safety.

  28. posted by Ann on

    We bought a convertible crib and now wish we hadnt. It was a beautiful crib, then we took the door off to make it a toddler bed. ( I’m sure any crib would do this)

    When dd was ready for a big girl bed, we had the decision: make it a full size bed and take up lots of room. Or give it away and buy the twin size from scratch. The cost was about the same for the full mattress set, or the twin complete bed.

    We decided to keep the full. Mostly because we liked the style. But we have crib parts under her bed and ours. And we have a mattress we dont need. So Not less clutter. And how long will we keep this stuff?? Until she has a baby??

  29. posted by sg on

    @Eric

    Thank you for mentioning your concern about the height of the toddler conversion! I thought I was the only one who couldn’t figure this out; we bought a convertible crib for our son, but the lowest mattress setting was in no way safe enough to take off the side rails, and as far as we knew, there wasn’t a partial railing available for the crib. We should have realized this before we spent the extra money on a convertible, but obviously we can’t do anything about it now. We had to transition our son out of the crib directly into a twin sized bed as a result.

  30. posted by Emily on

    I love this idea! Now I have another great new blog to read- I just discovered yours and will definitely be back! :)

    Emily
    http://www.materialgirlsblog.com

  31. posted by Megan on

    L – Ikea has convertible cribs as well. We got one for our son (the particular model is gone now, but a similar one replaced it) about a year and a half ago, and it was (I think) about $170. So, you can get affordable ones as well.

    The best thing though, is that Ikea also had a matching dresser with a top that can be configured to either fold out into a changing table, or up into shelves.
    Unfortunately, I don’t see it on the Ikea website anymore. :(

  32. posted by Catharine on

    As a mother of soon to be 3 little girls(im due in january)I have to say that this is not the best piece of advice. A lot of my friends bought a convertible crib and because their little one used it as a teething toy they are not about to convert it to a nice looking bed. The best thing to do is to buy a cheapo crib from a place like walmart (we got ours for $80) and then just buy a twin bed when they are ready to transition….We just bought bunkbeds for our girls (a little over $400 for the bed and 2 twin mattresses new…but we live in Italy so things are a little more expensive than in the states)if they ever decide thay dont want the bunkbed then we can have the choice of making them into seprate twin beds….now thats $400 well spent

  33. posted by Karyn on

    I agree that this is not a solution for everyone. We did buy a convertible crib for our oldest, but only because it was the only crib in the store that a) didn’t have wheels and b) wasn’t shaky and wobbly. I did like that we could take one side off to help him transition to a twin mattress on the floor.

    My advice to most parents: Buy a regular crib. Transition to a mattress that you place on the floor–if they roll out while getting used to it, they won’t bump themselves hard.

    This worked for my family since I have a small phobia about the Space Under the Bed which i totally projected onto my kids and freaked out about them having a Space Under the Bed…so now everyone has a box spring/mattress on the floor after they outgrow the crib. Works for us.

  34. posted by jocelyn on

    Aren’t there railing guards to protect furniture from teething (and babies from eating paint)?

  35. posted by jocelyn on

    safe slat space seems to be 2 3/8″

    http://www.babycenter.com/0_ho.....owAll=true

  36. posted by Rachel on

    I think the overall idea of this post was to show that there are long-term options for seemingly short-term troubles. How many parents out there are hoping/wishing/asking for storage solutions for baby furnishings while in between children or after their child has out grown its use. “I dont want to give it away or sell it – it was such a nice crib/playpen/stroller”
    A viable solution for some could be a piece of furniture (or several) that the child could literally grow up using. While some options are more expensive (and should therefore be treated as a long-term investment piece) and others are more affordable, I truly think the intention of this post was to get us thinking about not only multi-function or multi-stage baby furniture, but other types of furniture with similar utility. I personally have an ottoman that serves as a coffee table, additional seating, service trays, and blanket sorage.
    And by the way, my husband and I are 30 and we use his convertible crib and dresser to this day in our guest bedroom. If the bed were larger than full size, we’d be using it in our bedroom. His parents purchased a set for him and his sister as long-term pieces of beautiful furniture that could be utilized for many, many years. Once he out grew the use for a crib, the “crib pieces” were discarded (or, those small rails are a lot easier to keep around than an entire crib in the off chance your kid has a kid). I honestly hope to be able to do the same for my children.

  37. posted by Michael G on

    That reminds me of a quip I often share with my parent coaching clients that is actually true, which is similar to the original post. “We knew that Hannah was ready to move out of her crib when one day we found her climbing out of it…and we hadn’t put her into it.” That pretty much tells you the safety purposes of the crib are out the window.

  38. posted by Michele on

    Three hundred dollars is a lot of freakin’ money. Must be nice! It’s cheaper to get a low-cost crib and then move the kid to a twin-size bed that any child or adult can use — and we never even used a crib, because we were co-sleeping hippies.

    I’ve been seeing more and more high-cost options and advice in Unclutterer lately. I, for one, find it really disappointing, and generally useless.

  39. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Michele — Unclutterer is not an anti-consumer blog. We have written in detail on this point many times in the past. In fact, our site philosophy details our position:

    http://unclutterer.com/2007/01.....le-living/

  40. posted by David on

    convertible or not? what does it matter — just buy what you like when it’s time to buy — worry about “big boy” or “big girl” bed later

    we skipped toddler beds with both kids — twin bed with bunkie board (like http://tinyurl.com/bunkieboard ) worked very well — quite a bit lower than using a box spring

    used crib = fine, as long as you know how to use a measuring tape

    used car seat = no way, no way, no way

  41. posted by Ellen on

    For even less clutter: skip the crib entirely! Ours slept with us as babies, moved to sleeping pads in our room as toddlers, and eventually got twin beds when they got big enough to want them.

    (We actually did have a crib for #1, thinking he might nap in it now and then, but that didn’t happen and we gave it away long before #2 came along.

    And before anyone begins the “cribs are safer than cosleeping” speech — the research really doesn’t support it. See http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T102200.asp if you’re interested.)

  42. posted by jennyg on

    Hi:

    We got a “semi” convertible crib which we used in a sidecar style attached to our bed. Our child is a thrashing, flopping sleeper, so the “toddler bed” did not work at all. She fell out of it almost every time she used it. We ended up just putting an aerobed on the floor for her in her room (her “nest”),which she loves, and is big enough for us to co-sleep with her in her room, which we do often. And she can’t fall out! In terms of uncluttering, aerobeds are just awesome. -j

  43. posted by Celt on

    I used to work for a major name brand children’s home furnishings retailer. Convertible cribs were very popular, but most people did NOT convert these cribs into beds because either a) they had a second kid or b) They lost the conversion kit bits and pieces, and by the time they came back to us to get a replacement kit the model would have been discontinued.

  44. posted by Kris on

    We went with the IKEA crib as well, a model they don’t sell anymore. As far as I know, all IKEA cribs convert to to a toddler bed, but not to a double. The one we bought was solid wood and very sturdy. No particle board involved, and it was only $120. I didn’t want the convertible bed, but since it came with, we’ll use it. When he gets bigger or gets a sibling, he’ll get a twin bed.

  45. posted by Nicole on

    Bought a beautiful natural wood convertible crib for dear daughter; then 2 yrs later and 4 yrs later 2 addl children born so needed the crib for them. It seems like when the children turned about 3 or so we wanted to by them big kids furniture anyway. This time around prob will not use it bec will need big kid furniture anyway so will likely get a matching set. I now believe one should go with the least expensive and simplest design for infants whatever the product may be, bec theres so much more around the corner!

  46. posted by Rachelle on

    I don’t understand some peoples comments about having kids close together and needing the crib? We bought furniture for our little one as a set. We got the convertible crib, dresser, nightstand/changing table, and storage bookshelves. This will serve him all the way through high school. When we have other children we fully anticipate on buying them the exact same set of furniture so it can transition with them as well.

    Oh…and the total price of ALL our furniture INCLUDING the convertible crib? $450

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