Having a baby is an exciting time full of milestones and changes. One of those changes is your little one outgrowing their crib! While it may seem daunting to transition them to a toddler bed, there are some simple ways to make their crib last a bit longer. Read on for tips on extending the life of your baby’s crib so you can avoid buying new furniture before you’re ready!
When to Consider Making the Crib Taller
You’ll know it’s time to make your crib taller when your baby begins pulling themselves up on the sides or trying to climb out. Typically, this starts happening around 12 months or so. Once your little escape artist starts showing signs that they are ready for more room, it’s time to brainstorm solutions! Some signs include:
- Baby is able to pull themselves up into a standing position using the crib rails
- You notice marks or scratches on the crib from tiny hands and feet attempting to climb
- Your baby is extra wiggly at nap time and bedtime from frustration with the confined space
If you start noticing any of these behaviors, extending the height of your crib can help ease the transition to a toddler bed when the time is right.
Safety Considerations When Making a Crib Taller
While a taller crib might seem like an easy fix, there are some important safety guidelines to keep in mind:
- Only use crib modification kits designed specifically for your crib model. Improperly installed add-ons can create entrapment or fall hazards.
- Don’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum crib height, usually about 35 inches from the mattress platform to top of rail.
- Avoid DIY extensions like pools noodles, which can pose suffocation or strangulation risks.
- Don’t raise the mattress level in addition to extending rails, as this creates a falling hazard.
- Check that any add-ons are securely installed per instructions and don’t have any spaces between slats greater than 2-3/8 inches.
Following these precautions will help keep your baby comfy and safe in their modified crib!
Ready-to-Use Crib Rail Extenders
The easiest way to make a crib taller is by using a pre-made crib rail extension kit. Many major crib brands like Graco, Delta Children, DaVinci, and Babyletto sell compatible extender kits that attach securely to the existing rails.
Advantages of Pre-Made Extension Kits:
- Specifically designed for your crib model
- Simple to install, usually in under 5 minutes
- Often adjustable to different heights as needed
- Made of heavy duty materials to prevent falling
To find an extender kit for your crib, search the manufacturer’s website using terms like “crib rail extender” or “crib height extender.” Kits are widely available at major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and BuyBuyBaby. Prices range from $20-60.
DIY Crib Rail Extenders
If you can’t find a pre-made kit for your crib, it is possible to create DIY extenders with some simple hardware and wood. This takes a bit more effort but can give your crib a custom, built-in look.
- 1×3 or 1×4 unfinished wood boards, cut to fit crib side length
- Wood screws
- Power drill
- Measure distance between the inside edges of your crib’s headboard and footboard. Cut two wood boards to this length. These will be mounted horizontally.
- Measure height of existing crib rails. Cut two boards to this height. These will be mounted vertically.
- Position horizontal boards along the inside top ledge of crib rails. Mark screw holes. Pre-drill holes to avoid splitting wood.
- Attach horizontal boards to crib rails using wood screws. Make sure screws are long enough to secure tightly.
- Position vertical boards on the outside of crib rails, flush with ends of horizontal pieces. Mark and pre-drill screw holes.
- Attach vertical boards. Check for sturdy attachment and smooth corners.
- Consider sanding edges smooth and applying non-toxic finish if desired.
- Check final height and make sure no spaces between slats exceed safety guidelines.
This simple DIY crib extender transforms your baby’s crib in a few easy steps! Just be sure to follow safety precautions.
Transition Crib Skirts and Bedding
Once you’ve extended your crib rails, you’ll likely notice a gap between the mattress and crib skirt. Standard crib skirts are designed to fit snugly from mattress to floor, so they can look awkward and unsafe once the mattress is lower.
There are a few options to remedy this:
- Purchase a toddler bed conversion kit for your crib bedding set – many brands sell longer skirts and sheets to accommodate taller cribs.
- Remove the crib skirt completely and switch to a sleep sack or wearable blanket to keep baby warm.
- DIY a fabric panel to cover the gap between mattress and skirt using coordinating cotton fabric and ribbon ties.
- Allow the gap to show and dress up the exposed crib frame with colorful duct tape, craft paper, or decals for a fun pop of style!
Crib to Toddler Bed Transition Tips
The great thing about making your crib taller is it delays having to purchase a separate toddler bed! But there will come a point where your little one maxes out even the extended rails and is ready for an open bed. Here are some signs your tot is ready for this transition:
- Constantly attempting to climb out, even with raised rails
- Clearance between mattress and rails exceeds 26 inches
- Child is at least 35 inches tall
- Shows interest in picture books about using “big kid beds”
When the time comes, keep these tips in mind:
- Gradually acclimate them by removing one crib side and using it as a guardrail
- Let them pick out new sheets and decor to get excited about the “big bed”
- Use a sleep rail or pool noodles to prevent falling at first
- Keep a consistent bedtime routine to ease the adjustment
- Offer a prize, like a new stuffed animal, for staying in their bed all night
The key is making the transition gradual and fun – your kiddo will be enjoying their new bed in no time!
Enjoy Your Taller Crib a Bit Longer!
Making your crib taller is a simple project that can extend the life of your baby’s crib by months or even over a year. The ability to keep using the familiar crib you know and love can give you great peace of mind and save money too. While you want to move to a big kid bed once your child is ready, a modified crib lets you put that transition off just a little bit longer. Hopefully these tips give you several options to give your baby a roomier sleep space without having to rush out and buy new furniture. Enjoy this stage – they grow up so fast!
How to Choose the Best Crib Rail Extenders
If you’re looking to make your crib taller to accommodate your growing toddler, crib rail extenders are a safe and easy way to do so. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right extender for your crib? Here are the key factors to consider when shopping for crib rail extenders.
Compatibility with Your Crib
The most important feature is compatibility with your specific crib model. Most major crib manufacturers make extenders that are designed to seamlessly fit their cribs. Brands like Graco, Babyletto, Delta Children, DaVinci, and IKEA sell extenders for their cribs, usually ranging from $20-$60.
Check your crib’s manual or manufacturer website to find the matching extender kit for your model. Universal kits are available, but having an exact fit will ensure safety.
Adjustable Height Settings
Many extenders allow you to adjust the height as needed. For example, some have settings for 2-inch, 3-inch or 4-inch extensions. This means you can start with a smaller height increase, then adjust the extender taller as your toddler grows.
Adjustability is useful if you have a younger baby at home who will soon need the crib – you can lower the height back down when the time comes.
Sturdy, Durable Materials
Trustworthy materials like wood composites or heavy plastic ensure the extenders will safely support your toddler’s activity. Wood also gives a built-in look that blends with standard crib rails.
Metal extensions are not recommended since they can bend and create entrapment hazards. Stay away from lightweight plastics that could crack or break under pressure.
A Snug, Secure Fit
For safety, the extender should fit snugly against the existing rails without leaving gaps along the edges or corners. Most kits use sturdy screws or bolts to attach firmly to the crib frame.
There should be no spaces between the extender and crib rails greater than 2-3/8 inches, as advised by safety guidelines. Double check for a tight fit.
Easy, Fast Assembly
Look for kits that attach quickly and easily in just a few minutes. Most utilize pre-drilled holes and hardware that simply screws into place. If the installation looks complicated, keep looking for an easier option.
Ideally, the kit should come with clear instructions and include all necessary tools and hardware for DIY assembly.
Affordable Price Point
You can find quality crib extenders in the $20 to $60 range from major retailers like Amazon and Walmart. This is very affordable compared to the cost of buying a new toddler bed.
Boutique versions with ornate designs can cost over $100. But simple, no-frills options will do the job just fine for much less.
Attractive, Subtle Appearance
While the extender should be safe and sturdy, you also want something that blends in visually with your crib style. Neutral wood tones or white plastic fit with almost any decor.
Avoid kits with brightly colored, distracting patterns or textures that stand out. The extension should not be an eyesore in your nursery when you want a cohesive look.
Choosing extenders with these key considerations in mind will ensure you select the best product for your needs and budget. With so many options on the market, you can easily find an attractive, adaptable, and safe crib rail solution.
DIY Crib Extenders: How to Make Your Own
If you can’t find a pre-made extender kit for your crib or want to create a custom built-in look, it is possible to build DIY crib extenders on your own. With some simple hardware, wood, and basic skills, you can increase the height of your crib rails affordably.
Select the Right Materials
For safety and stability, wood is the best material for DIY crib extenders. Opt for smooth, unfinished wood like poplar or pine boards in 1×3 or 1×4 sizing. Avoid very soft woods prone to denting.
Make sure edges and corners are smooth and rounded for baby-safe results. Sand down any rough areas. Hardwoods like oak may split during drilling, so softwoods are ideal.
Take Precise Measurements
Measure the interior width of the crib between the headboard and footboard. Cut two boards to this exact length – they will attach horizontally to extend the sides.
Measure the height of your existing crib rails from the mattress platform to the top. Cut two boards to this height – they will attach vertically on the ends.
Very precise sizing is crucial so the extender integrates seamlessly into the crib frame without gaps, wobbling, or uneven edges.
Attach Securely With Hardware
Pre-drill holes in the boards to prevent cracking or splintering during installation. Use long wood screws to affix the horizontal boards to the top rail edge, anchoring them firmly in place.
Position the vertical boards flush to the ends of the horizontal pieces. Pre-drill and attach these using wood screws through the sides of the crib rails for maximum hold.
Make sure all attachments feel very secure and stable with smooth alignments.
Add Finishing Touches
If desired, you can paint or stain the wood extenders to match your nursery. Use non-toxic finishes safe for babies. Light sanding can also give a soft, distress look.
For extra security, you can also utilize corner braces or L-brackets on the inside corners. Add decor like crown molding for a built-in look. Use non-toxic sealant on raw wood edges.
Follow all safety guidelines and frequently check for any loosening or instability as your baby uses the extended crib.
Enjoy Your Custom Crib
With these simple steps, you can create DIY crib rail extensions tailored exactly to your crib’s dimensions. Take your time to measure and construct carefully for the best results.
The ability to match your crib’s finish and completely integrate the extender boards gives your nursery a high-end, seamless look. Your baby will enjoy the expanded space!
Transitioning Your Child from Crib to Toddler Bed
The exciting transition from crib to toddler bed is a major milestone, but it can also be challenging if not handled smoothly. Here are some tips to help you and your little one adjust to the big switch:
Look for Signs of Readiness
The first step is observing your child for signs they are developmentally ready for a toddler bed such as:
- Climbing out of the crib consistently even with raised rails
- Clearance between mattress and rails exceeds 26 inches
- Child is at least 35 inches tall
- Asking about or showing interest in a “big kid bed”
Typically between 18 months and 3 years is an appropriate age range to start considering a toddler bed. Every child matures differently, so follow their lead.
Involve Your Child in the Process
Talk up the exciting transition to a new bed and involve your toddler in picking out fun new sheets and bedroom accessories. Let them feel ownership of this big change. Create positive associations.
Reading story books together about toddler beds can also help generate enthusiasm. Frame it as a “big kid” adventure!
Ease the Transition Gradually
Start by using your modified crib as a toddler bed by removing the front rail and using the remaining sides as guardrails for several nights. This allows your child to adjust to the openness before totally switching beds.
You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if your tot seems afraid of falling out of the new toddler bed. Taking gradual steps prevents shock.
Stick to Consistent Bedtime Routines
Keep pre-bedtime rituals like bath time, story time and cuddling the same. Familiar routines are comforting during this adjustment.
Be firm and consistent about bedtime to reinforce this new sleep environment. Make the experience feel secure, just like their old crib.
Use Safety Features at First
A pool noodle cut lengthwise under the mattress pad prevents rolling out of bed. Or install a sleep rail on the open side. There are also bed tents and crib-to-bed conversion kits with safety rails.
As your toddler adjusts, these aids can be removed so they don’t become a crutch. Just use temporarily at the beginning for peace of mind.
The switch to a big kid bed is a momentous occasion! With patience and planning, you can make your little one comfortable and excited about this new independence. Sweet dreams in their new bed will come.
Extending the Life of Your Baby Crib: FAQs
Making your crib taller using rail extensions is a great way to save money and extend the life of your baby’s crib. But you may have questions about how to do this safely and effectively. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
What are crib rail extenders?
Crib rail extenders are vertical panels or boards that attach to the upper portion of existing crib rails using hardware to make the crib taller.
Are crib rail extensions safe?
When used properly, crib rail extenders are perfectly safe. But it’s crucial to follow guidelines:
- Only use extenders designed for your specific crib model
- Don’t exceed recommended maximum height
- Check for secure installation without gaps between slats
- Don’t raise mattress in addition to rails
- Follow all manufacturer instructions
How high can I safely elevate my crib?
Most pediatricians recommend not exceeding 35 inches from the mattress platform to top of rails, even with extenders. Always defer to your crib manufacturer’s height guidelines.
How long do extenders allow you to use a crib?
Typically extenders add 6-12 months of use before a toddler bed is needed. But this varies based on the child’s growth rate. Extenders buy you extra time before buying new furniture.
Should I just convert to a toddler bed instead?
Using extenders lets you delay this transition, which is a perk when your child still sleeps soundly in a crib. The familiar environment may help them rest better as a toddler.
Can I make DIY crib extenders?
Yes, you can create custom extenders using unfinished wood boards, hardware and tools. Make sure to follow safety guidelines carefully. Pre-made kits are easier, but DIY is possible on a budget.
What do I do if my mattress is now too short?
You can either get a slightly thicker replacement mattress made for toddler beds, or simply install a piece of plywood under the crib mattress to add height.
Making a few simple modifications can extend the life of your crib and save you money. Follow safety precautions and enjoy using your crib longer!