Turning your nursery into a toddler room

Turning Points 3 min read

My son Jack turned 2 years old in November, and by the end of December he had learned to escape from his crib. I had hoped he’d wait a few more months before taking on the role of an acrobatic escape artist, but I wasn’t that lucky. We already had all of the furniture in his room secured to the walls but once he had free rein of his room with no supervision, I quickly had to make a few more changes. Every day I learn a little more about what will work and what won’t (recently he tore pages out of a book so we may need to only keep board books in there), but the transition has gone much better than I had anticipated. We’re still learning how to make this work for our family but here are some of the things we’ve done to turn Jack’s nursery into a toddler room.

Add a toddler rail

When we purchased the crib before Jack was born we intentionally chose a crib that would convert into a toddler bed and then into a daybed. We took the crib rail off and attached the toddler rail so that he can easily get in and out of bed without the risk of falling out. I’m trying to stress that he’s a big boy now and make the new bed a big deal. He fell asleep in front of the door the first night, but every night and nap since then he’s ended up asleep in his bed. If your child’s crib cannot convert then you’ll have to decide whether you want to upgrade them to a true toddler bed or a real bed. Both options have their pros and cons so do whatever will work best for your little one.

Eliminate distractions

We used to have a good number of toys in his room, but now that he’s free to roam around unattended I’ve removed most of them. The toy baskets have been moved to his baby sister’s room and I only left books and a few stuffed animals for him to play with before he falls asleep.

Choose a theme that can grow with them

Decor-wise, I haven’t had to change much in his room. When I first designed his nursery, I created an eclectic theme that was playful but not overly juvenile. That way, his room could easily grow with him and I wouldn’t have to change too many things as he got older. If you do decide to update some of the decorations in your child’s room, consider adding new pieces that will have longevity that you’ll be able to use for years. Another easy way to update the look of the room is to add new bedding. If you change out the fitted sheet and add a comforter and a pillow the room will automatically look like more of a toddler room than a nursery. We also removed the changing pad that used to be on the dresser and the storage bins now corral bed linens and other child-friendly things.

Remove anything breakable or dangerous

In my son’s nursery I had a few styled vignettes with antiques and picture frames. It wasn’t a problem up until now. When he was a baby he couldn’t get into them, and then once he became a toddler I always supervised him in his room. Now that he’s in his room all alone I’ve made sure to remove anything that he could hurt or that could hurt him. All furniture is secured to the wall, cords on blinds are out of reach, and electrical outlets are covered as well. Additionally, I turned the overhead light off by pulling the chain on the fan so that if he does flip the switch on the wall the light won’t turn on when he should be sleeping.

Create a cozy spot

Kids love cozy little places to sit, so we added a teepee with a soft cushion and lots of pillows. He loves to hide in there and read his books, and that’s often where we will find him in the morning after he wakes up. Even if you just throw a couple pillows in a corner your toddler is sure to love having a cozy spot to sit.

Toddlers are curious, energetic and playful little beings, and their rooms should nurture these qualities. It’s important that their rooms also encourage sleep though, so creating a toddler room that works for your child can sometimes take a little trial and error. This phase is all about letting your little one embrace their new-found independence so do your best to create a safe and cozy space and then let them do their thing.

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