Introduction: Crib Into a Toddler Bed Hack

I have a set of three year old twins and I often hear people tell me “you got two for the price of one” to which I always reply “nope I got two for the price of two”. The fact is everything costs double so I look to save money wherever I can. Nothing is more frustrating than watching your kids grow out of something shortly after you bought it. I knew the kids would grow out of their toddler beds in no time so i figured if I could hack their cribs then why not. So here is my simple DIY furniture hack to turn your cribs into toddler beds.

Step 1: The Idea

The cribs we bought for the twins we the kind you can turn in to toddler beds and then ultimately full size beds as the kids grow. When all of the sudden our kids would show up back downstairs shortly after we put them to bed we knew it was time transition to toddler beds. If you have ever witnessed the Circ Du Soils act that is a toddler climbing out of their crib (nerve racking indeed) you know what I mean. I set out to make this happen on my own rather than buy the two kits that cost a couple hundred bucks a piece. The result has been a strong sturdy solution that is super simple that not only looks good (a demand of the wife) but stands up to all the product testing of a set of twins. Depending on what wood you have lying around the house you should be able to put one of these together for under $30 bucks.

All cribs will not be the same of course but you can use the same ideas and techniques to adjust what I did to fit whatever. I will try and add some commentary where variations in design might come into play.

Step 2: Materials

The list materials needed for this hack is relatively small. If you do a lot of woodworking you might have most of what you need already. The only specialty item i used for this was the crown bolt and cap nut to give it a nice finish.

List of Materials:

12’ x 3/4’ Board

4’ x 3/4’ Board

2’ x 2’ Post

¼ inch Crown Bolt

¼ inch Cap Nut

Primer

Paint

For this build I used poplar boards because I was going to paint them but if you are going to stain it feel free to use whatever type of wood will work for your particular crib. As far as the length of the bolt goes, Make sure you measure the width of the wood on the crib that the bolt will be going through and adjust accordingly. You want to make sure that once the bolt goes through both the front board and the crib there is enough room for the nut to grab the board but, since there is a limited depth to the cap nut you 'want too much excess. I use 2 inch bolts since both pieces together measured 1 1/2 inches which left 1/2 inch fir the nut which was perfect.

Thats it gather your materials and lets build!.....

Step 3: The Front Board

1. Measure bolt height: There are four spots where the front of the crib is attached they are the same on both sides, one attaches to the side posts and the other to the slats that support the mattress. While the front of the crib is still attached take a look at the back and measure the distance between the floor and each of these bolts. I labeled them as outside (attached to the supports) and inside (attached to the slats) getting this right will make sure the crib is level when you build the new front board.

2. Cut the board to length: This should be pretty standard due to the standard size of the mattress but might differ slightly due to the width of the side supports. The length I used was 56 inches which left a slight overage on the ends.

3. Remove the existing crib front: Pretty self explanatory.

4. Measure bolt width: This is another point where it will vary depend on what type of crib you have. What i did was I used the side support as a reference and measured from the outside of the side support to the hole on the support ("outside" see step 1) and to the support for the slats ("inside"). I then added the overhang of the front board to this to get the correct measurement from the outside of the front board to the hole.

5. Mark and Drill Holes: Now that you have the measurements you need for the support bolts you can mark and drill the holes. I Made two straight lines on each side with a speed square at each width I needed then marked the correct height on each line.

6. Attach the Board: Bolt the board to the front of the crib to make sure it fits.

Step 4: The Bed Rails

1. Cut The Rail Board: You can use whatever length you want here really but I chose 35 inches. I wanted to make them long enough to prevent the kids from rolling out of the bed but still give them a spot to be able to crawl in and out.

2. Cut The Posts: I cut the posts at 10 inches long which gave them just the right height to keep the kids from rolling out. Next I cut out notches in each end. The notches were 3 1/2 inches deep (the same as the width of the rail board) and 3/4 inch wide (so the rail and side boards would slide in. You could cut these a variety of ways but I found my jig saw worked just fine.

3. Glue The Rail Boards Into The Post: Slide the rails in to the notches that you cut on the posts to make sure they fit. If they fit then add some wood glue to the notches, clamp them and then set aside to dry.

4. Sand The Bed Rails: Once the glue is dry sand down the joints so they are flush as well as the sharp edges.

Step 5: Final Mock Up

1. AttachThe Front Board: Bolt the front board on the bed then slide the side on to the front board. Figure out where you want the side rails to sit. There is no real science here you just want to give the kids enough room to climb in and out. Make sure the spot you pick to leave open is where you kids feet will be when they sleep.

2. Attach the Rails: While in place drill a hole through the rail and the front board this will make sure it is all lined up. Do the same for both sides.

3. Disassemble For Finishing: Take the rails of the board and remove the front board from the crib.

Step 6: Finish and Paint

1. Finish The Edges: This is not necessary but to give it some detail and a more finished look I decided to use a quarter inch round over bit in my router to finish off the edges. You could use whatever you like or matches the overall look of your crib. You could also just skip to sanding the piece and remove any sharp edges that way.

2. Final Sanding: Using my random orbital sander and some fine grit sandpaper I gave it a once over to smooth out the surface and remove some blemishes for painting.

3. Paint: Prime the wood if you are going to paint it and then paint with which ever color you choose. If you are going to stain then there is no need to prime but you might want to consider a polyurethane to protect it from the kids. I have use a spray polyurethane on some other project which has worked great.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Finish It Up: Once the paint is dry put it all back together as you did in the mock up and that's it...your done. Let the kids have at it.

Step 8: Final Thoughts

I completed these several months ago and they are still going strong. The kids have definitely put these to the test and they have held up with no issue. Have fun with the design you could expand upon these with whatever edges or other finishing touches you like. Please feel free to drop me a line with any comments or questions and I will be happy to answer anything i can. Thanks for taking the time to look and my project and I am sure I will be posting the hack to turn this into a full bed in the future.

Thanks and Happy Building

Comments

author
Riffifi (author)2016-01-06

i also did that for my son, to extend the use of his baby bed. i replaced on of the side with a single big plank of wood with a notch for my son to climb on his own. i kept the bed's screws to fasten the plank to the rest of the structure, i even added a plastic planter as a cup holder, wich was useful for his water cup :)
as the plank was found in the attic, this costed me nothing but a couple hours to sand the plank, then cut and drill it to the needed sizes.
it extended the use of this bed some more months and my son was happy with this... but lately i heard that he was hitting the edges of his bed, because he was moving too much while sleeping. so we finally bought him a real larger toddler bed.

author
birddogpumpkins made it! (author)Riffifi2016-01-08

I think the key to solve the issue here is making sure that the board at the front of the bed sits well below the mattress. As you can see in the pic below its a good 3-4 inches lower than the mattress. So far i haven't had that issue (fingers crossed). Thanks for the comment!

IMG_2749.JPG
author
Itsatrav (author)2016-01-04

great idea do you think in lue of using a jigsaw you could glue 2 pieces on the edge (just asking i don't have access to a jigsaw)

author
birddogpumpkins (author)Itsatrav2016-01-05

Not sure if just gluing would hold up to some of the wear and tear the kids can put on the rails. You could probably design rails that bolted just on one side of the front board and still have plenty of strength.

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