Introduction: Adapting a Crib for a Wheelchair User

About: Retired Mechanical Engineer. We provide the disabled community with special solutions for special needs.

Instructions on adapting a crib for a wheel chair user for less than $500.

Please read all instructions and review the sketches in attached PDF file before starting.

This is my 2nd crib.

Good Luck


Step 1: Select a Crib

Approximate Dimensions:

Height: 42 in.

Width: 57 in

Depth: 30.5

This is the estimated cost from the previous crib, January 2019.

The Delta Children Emery 4 in one crib was $184 on Amazon. Wood, Plexiglass, paint & hardware $242.

$426 Total The 2nd crib in September went up a little, but less than $450.

Amazon Link

This link identifies several used cribs and different colors. I recommend bright white. It was easy to paint the additional wood and you end up with some spare paint.

The previous client had it drop shipped to my house.

I liked this crib for several reasons:

It was well packaged with lots of foam protectors

All of the parts were clearly identified. A spare of the bolt & nut were included (just in case you lost one)

Assembly instructions were very clear with good illustrations.

The crib is assembled with metal fasteners, not wood screws. This allowed the crib to be assembled or disassembled 5 times for this project. The crib is best transported disassembled & easily moved to a bedroom.

The crib can be converted into a toddler bed later, so it can have a 4-5 year usefulness.

Step 2: Develop the Crib Access Opening Dimensions - Mock Up Method

Wheel chair width at wheels

Height of thighs when sitting in wheel chair

Shoulder width & height when in wheel chair.

Wheel chair front clearance (how close can wheel chair go under the crib)

Arm reach of care giver in wheel chair (shoulder to hands)

This can be accomplished in two ways:

Mock up Method

• Build a full scale cardboard mock up.

• Care giver can use the mock up to confirm opening and wheel chair clearances needed. You need access to the home for this method.

Step 3: Develop the Crib Access Opening Dimensions - CAD Method

CAD Method – Develop scale drawings to show clearances and reach required. This method is best when email contact is used.

Note that the room selected for the crib will need one foot of clear area on one side for the sliding gate.

This can be either left or right side. The client should decide before construction begins.

These dimensions are in the attached PDF file from the CAD program.

Refer to sketches A3 & A4

Step 4: Tools Required

Table saw for cutting plywood and plexiglass. Also needed for the grooves in the slide rails.

Drill with drill bits, screw driver bits, and countersink bit

Hand Sander & various grit paper

Paint (or stain), brush, cleaner

Crosscut saw - any chop or combination saw

Screw driver with torq bits - power driver is best

Tape measure, Square, straight edge.

Step 5: Material Required

Crib with 4mm hex wrench(included)

Cotter pin and wire for attachment

¼” Plexiglass 24" x 30", 1x6x6ft boards (2 each), ¾”(nominal) x 4 x 8 plywood 1 sheet

wood screws 2-1/2" x 9; 1-5/8" x 8; #6 x 1/2"; #6 x 1-1/2"; gorilla glue, 1/4" flat washer (4)

metal zinc coated braces - 4" flat and 2-1/2" corner - 4 each ( usually in pack of 4)

Select very straight 1 x 6 boards. You may have to purchase "premium" to get straight pieces.

Towels or blankets to protect crib pieces during transportation

Step 6: Construction - Completely Assemble the Crib

Read all Crib instructions first. They are in the envelope attached to the spring mattress support along with warranty information..

Leave the envelope attached to the spring.

Locate the fasteners - they are shrink wrapped. There are some spares also.

Assemble the crib.

Use the Hex wrench provided; do not use a power screw driver.

Install the spring mattress support as described in the directions.

Measure the distance from the bottom of the spring mattress support to the floor.

This is dimension "H". This dimension plus the height of the support results in the clearance height for the client's thighs in the wheel chair. If desired clearance height is 28"; then 28-H = height of the support boxes.

This step ensures that all parts fit and also familiarizes you with the assembly.

Step 7: Partially Diassemble the Crib for Modifications

Remove the bolts that hold the front panel to the crib ends.

Remove the decorative top piece from the rear panel.

Remove the front panel and the bottom support piece.

Remove the spring.

Remove the two crib end assemblies. They can be left as two complete assemblies.

The rear assembly, spring, two ends, and top piece can all be set aside for now.

Keep the fasteners & wrench in a small container so they do not get lost.

Step 8: Fabricate the Grooved Rails

Cut the straightest 1x6x6ft board to 66" long.

Use push sticks when using the table saw. It is a very dangerous tool if not used safely.

Wear eye protection.

Refer to the attached PDF file from the CAD program clearly to see the rail dimensions. Sketches A3 & A5

Rip two 1-1/2" wide pieces using the table saw.

Cut a 3/8" wide x 3/8" deep groove down the center of the 3/4" edge of one piece. Mark it "'Bottom"

Cut a 3/8" wide x 1/2" deep groove down the center of the 3/4" edge of one piece. Mark it "'Top"

Sand the edges of all pieces to remove splinters and burrs.

Wrap a piece of sandpaper around a 1/4" thick piece of wood ( or a piece of cut off plexiglass) and sand the inside of the grooves. Be sure the bottom is smoothed out. 60 or 80 grit is fine.

Drill 4 holes for 1-5/8" x 8 screws to attach to the crib rail later.

Paint the rails. Do Not paint inside of the groove.

The paint will "ball" up under the plexiglass and jam it.

Plan on 3 to 4 coats of paint.

Step 9: Modify the Crib Front Rail

Cut 5 of the center slats out of the front rail. Cut them flush with the rail top and bottom. Sketch A3.

Sand all cut edges to remove any rough spots.

Paint the cut areas. Save these for later.

Sand the oval dowel at the end of the bottom rail where the grooved rail will extend past the bed. The grooved rail prevents aligning the bed end easily. Sand 1/16" off of the side of the dowel next to the grooved rail. This will allow the bed end and front rail assembly to be aligned properly. The photo shows the dowel on the "other end" of the front rail.

Clamp the bottom grooved rail onto the front rail.

Check that it is aligned with the bottom edge of the bed rail. Attach with 1-5/8" x 8 screws

Clamp the top grooved rail onto the front rail.

Check that it is aligned with the top edge of the bed rail below the larger rail part. Attach with 1-5/8" x 8 screws

Step 10: Modify Crib Front Support

The crib front support holds the ends of the crib. We will need to remove this piece for the wheel chair access.

The sketch A3 shows a cut out of 26 1/4". This is typically wide enough for the wheel chair. Check your dimensions at the wheel chair users hands. Be sure there is sufficient clearance for their hands.

Cut the ends from the bottom support. Sketch A9. The center section 3/4" wood pieces can be used to connect the 3/4 wood pieces after cutting. The exact length of each end piece will depend on your required wheel chair clearance.

Attach the short 3/4" end pieces to the cut ends using the 1-5/8" x 8 screws. Predrill to avoid splitting. This may sound confusing, but it is obvious after you make the first cuts of the center support & review sketch A9.

Be sure that the fastener nut hole is on the inside of the crib.

Sand all corners to remove any rough places. Paint any bare areas.

Each cut end piece is screwed to the bottom rail with 1-5/8" x 8 screws in 3 places. The crib front rail assembly now has lower supports that will hold the crib end sections together.

The crib ends can now be screwed into the front supports to hold the crib together. Note that the mattress is suspended from the crib ends. It does not need the front support rail.

The sketches are also in the attached PDF file from the CAD program.

Step 11: Cut the Plexiglass Gate

At this point you should have the crib front rail with the two slide rails attached. Measure the distance between the bottoms of the grooves.

Cut the plexiglass with a table saw. Move the plexiglass slowly to prevent chipping. Sketch A6.

Be sure to wear eye protection. Plexiglass chips are very sharp and hard to get out of the eyes.

Cut the plexiglass height to fit between the groove with about 1/4" of clearance. Mine was 22-1/2" high.

Cut the width to 27-3/8".

Use a hand sander to smooth all edges & cut surfaces. Round off the corners. The table saw leaves small "melted" material.

Step 12: Add Slats and Handles to the Plexiglass Gate

Cut the 5 wooden slats from the crib to 20-3/4" long. I cut a 30 degree bevel on mine. Check that this fits between the slide rails. Sketch A6.

Carefully line up the slats on the plexiglass as shown in the sketch A6. Use blue painters tape for marking.

Mark the location of 4 holes per slat for the 1/2" screws. Use both glue and screws to get a tight bond with the glue. Note that Gorilla glue needs to have one surface moistened. Use a drill slightly larger than the #6 x 1/2" screws.

Drill 4 additional holes for the wooden handles. Use a drill slightly larger than the #6 x 1-1/2" screws

Step 13: Glue the Slats to Plexiglass

At this point you will have a pre-cut piece of plexiglass with all of the holes drilled to attach the slats.

Use the counter sink bit to chamfer the holes on the baby side of the plexiglass gate. The chamfer should be deep enough for the #6 screws to be flush with the plexiglass.

The drill leaves very sharp edges and an occasional small sharp chip at the edges. The counter sink bit will remove all sharp edges & any chips.

Do not try to drill larger than 1/4"holes. Larger holes tend to chip and break the plexiglass.

Carefully line up the slats and glue with gorilla glue. Remember to moisten one side. Use a very small amount of glue. When you add the screws, it will squeeze out the glue.

Attach each slat with 4 of the #6 x 1/2" screws. Sketch A6.

Install the handles with the glue and #6 x 1-1/2" screws.

Remove any excess glue that squeezes out immediately.

Step 14: Drill Air Holes

Drill 1/4" air holes in the plexiglass between the slats. Sketch A6.

Space them at 2" on center.

Do not drill larger than 1/4" to avoid chipping.

Use the counter sink bit to remove any sharp edges and small chips on the baby side and the caregiver side of the plexiglass.

Step 15: Test the Plexiglass Gate

Slide the plexiglass gate into the slide rails. It should have plenty of clearance but not be close to falling out.

Slide it back and forth.

If there is any binding, locate the problem area and sand the wood slots and or the plexiglass.

Step 16: Build the Support Stands

Refer to the sketch of the two support stands, sketch A8. This is an attached PDF file from the CAD program.

The total height of the stand is determined by your previous wheel chair height measurement & the dimension "H" from the floor to the bottom of the crib mattress spring. .

Carefully lay out the pieces before cutting. You can get all pieces from one sheet of plywood.

Step 17: Final Test Assembly

Fully assemble the modified crib & place on the support legs. You do not need to attach the crib to the leg supports until it is assembled in the client's home.

Confirm that the height from the floor to the bottom of the mattress spring is correct.

Cut the 1x6 board to length so it fits between the crib ends. This board will be attached to the support legs at the client's home for stability. It will also be used in the future for a toddler bed.

Test the sliding plexiglass gate. It should move smoothly. Use paint to touch up any damaged areas.

If all is ok, disassemble the crib.

The two crib end assemblies, and front and rear rail assemblies can stay together. The plexiglass, top decorative piece, the spring, fasteners, and 1x6 board are all separated. Be sure to remove the plexiglass from the sliding rails before transportation. Locate six of the 2-1/2 wood screws and four 1/4" flat washers. These will be needed at the home. Also take the extra paint and brush.

Step 18: Drill the Plexiglass and Bed for the Lock

Close the plexiglass gate and mark the center near the bottom sliding rail with a sharpie.

Drill a hole in the sliding rail and the plexiglass near the bottom.

This is the lock for the gate. Attach with a lanyard or wire to the bed rail.

The hole should be easy to see.

Step 19: Safety Items to Review at Client's Home.

Review mattress dimensions from the manufacturer.

Review the sliding gate lock. Never leave the gate unlocked while unattended.

Confirm that the assembled bed is stable. Check that each support leg is attached with two metal brackets, one straight and one angle.

Attach the rear 1 x 6 to a wall stud with two 2-1/2" screws. This is an anti-tip device. Try to pull on the bed & confirm that it cannot be tipped over.

Place the 4 mm hex wrench, spare fasteners, and instructions in the envelope on the spring.

Discuss converting the crib to a toddler bed. The bed rails are very high.

If there is any chance that the child can climb over the crib rail, convert it to a toddler bed immediately.

Step 20: Toddler Bed Instructions

Remove the metal brackets attaching the crib to the leg supports.

Remove the crib from the leg supports. Remove the screws attaching the rear board to a wall stud.

Remove the rear 1 x 6 board with the four screws.

Remove the front rail assembly.

The 1x6 board will fit now between the crib ends.

Attach the 1 x 6 board with the four 2-1/2" screws and flat washers. Use the preexisting holes in the bed legs.

The crib is now a toddler bed.

When you are done with this bed, try to donate it to someone else.

Step 21: Video of Gate in Use

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