Converting Your Nursery into a Toddler Room
Not sure how or when it happened, but at some point, your sweet snuggly baby became a full-blown, fiercely independent, yet incredibly needy toddler. While he’s mastering the art of walking, talking and basically just running the show, there are a few things you can do to transition his nursery into a toddler room or big kids room.
One of the first signs of toddler-hood is often a thud in the night. This is the sound of your kiddo climbing out of his crib. If this happens at an early age, say 12-18 months, you might want to consider a transition into a toddler bed before making the leap to a twin bed. If you go this route, you have two options.
- Convert your crib into a toddler bed. If you bought a crib with an optional toddler rail kit, this consists of removing one side crib rail and replacing it with a low safety rail. This will allow your child to get in and out of the bed on his own, safely.
- Another option is to go with a freestanding toddler bed. Toddler beds are low to the ground, and use the standard crib mattress you already own. Kids can get in and out of bed easily.
- Both options will work until your child is about 4-5 and ready to move to a big kid bed.
If you opt for a toddler bed, you’ll need some additional bedding. You can purchase toddler size sheet sets, pillows and blankets to supplement the crib bedding you already own.
Repurpose the changing table area
Hopefully diapers are on their way out. Even if you’re not quite there, you can now change diapers on the bed, and make better use of the space previously occupied by the changing table.
- If you have a freestanding changing table, now would be a good time to repurpose it into toy storage. Any essentials like lotion, soap, ointment, need to be relocated out of reach of your curious toddler. Instead, use low shelving and bins to house toys and books.
- If your freestanding changer can’t be repurposed, remove it from the room in favour of a small play table and chair. This is a great place for small art projects, just be sure you have wall shelves to store markers, crayons and scissors, so they’re out of reach when you’re out of the room.
- If you used a changer top on a dresser, remove it, and use the surface of the dresser to keep things you want out of reach of your little one. And, speaking of dressers, now’s a great time to be sure you have all furniture safely secured to the wall with safety anchors, to avoid toppling furniture due to climbing kids.
Make more floor space
It’s important to have a lot of open floor space for your toddler to play and explore safely.
- If you had an ottoman with your rocking chair, now would be the time to get rid of it. You’ll be amazed at how much room you free up on the floor.
- Replace the diaper pail with a floor storage basket. The more access your little one has to toys, the more independently they can play.
- Remove any bouncy seats, swings or exersaucers that may have been taking up room in their nursery, as well as any other gear your child has outgrown. Consider replacing with a soft, child-sized seat. She’ll love the independence that comes with her very own chair.
At this stage, she’ll be so proud of everything she can do on her own. So, reconsider how and where you store things.
- Once your little one starts dressing herself, she likely won’t want your help at all. If you’re up for letting her pull together her own ensembles, rearrange clothes so seasonally appropriate ones are on lower shelves and in low drawers, so she can easily access what she needs. Then let her go for it.
- Do the same with bath items like hooded towels and washcloths; let her be responsible for gathering what she needs for bath time.
- And, keep any dress up clothes accessible, too. Low wall hooks are perfect for this. Not only will she play with them more if they’re out in the open, it’ll also be easier for her to participate in clean-up when the time comes.
- Speaking of clean-up time, bins and baskets are perfect for getting toddlers to help with clean-up. The red bin’s for cars, the blue for blocks and the grey for dolls. Whatever your system, try to have one that’s easy for her to understand and breaks the task of cleaning up into small parts.
In general, a successful nursery to toddler room transition is one that allows for independence in a safe place. So, be sure to set up their new big kid room in a way that allows your child to play on their own without needing to ask for your assistance at every turn. Also, be sure you’re comfortable leaving them to play on their own, which means putting hazards out of reach, removing climbing temptations and generally being sure that no matter what they might get into in their own space, they’ll be safe.
Toddlers are fearless creatures, so give them a space where they can be totally secure in their reckless abandon, and then take a deep breath and enjoy. This stage doesn’t last long.