Ask Maxwell: Great First Bed for Toddler (That He’ll Like)

published Oct 11, 2021
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1921: American actress Florence Turner (1887 - 1946) leans over the bed of a sleeping boy, in a screen adaptation of Arnold Bennett's book, 'The Old Wives' Tale', directed by Denison Clift for Ideal.
Credit: Getty Images/ Hulton Archive / Stringer

We have a little one who is about to turn 3 in two weeks. Even though we never in our wildest parental imaginations thought we would be co-sleeping with our kid, he sleeps with my husband (and stay-at-home Dad extraordinaire) in the bachelor bedroom. Our son has his own bedroom that he slept in until he outgrew his Snoo. I’m wondering what your insights might be on bedroom design for the little people whose interests change weekly, and also what might be a good “first bed” that we could pitch to our son when he seems more ready to sleep on his own.


Dear Stacey,

It is very tricky to lure a child back into his or her own room once they’ve gotten used to climbing into bed with you again. I remember very much relying on the high sides of the crib to prevent Ursula from climbing out in those early years. It is hard to get them back in, BUT it will happen and making his room cozy and with his personality is a really nice way to do it.

While Ursula was able to stay on a modified version of her crib mattress for almost five years, I would cut to the chase with your son, ditch the crib/daybed and mattress on the floor and get him a nice single bed that will be his for years.

Credit: IKEA
Canopies, like this add on from IKEA are a great way to quickly create a bed that is safe and fun to curl up in.

In order to get him on board I would start talking about making his room really great and enlisting his — and your husband’s — help. Make it a family project! I would look at beds together and talk about how this is really a “big boy bed” that he’s now ready for. Being older brings perks, but it also brings responsibility and a little more independence. That’s the goal here.

For kid’s beds, I like:
Crate & Kids
IKEA for kids & check out their beds with canopies!
Pottery Barn Kids

To get him to bite, we have to grow his imagination around how special and magical and safe and cozy his room will be. Like his own world to explore. I think a lot of kids like sleeping with their parents because it’s the coziest, safest place! Who’s going to argue with that? But his room can get close.

Credit: Crate & Kids
As a boy, I loved functional beds that allowed me to store stuff and have clothes close at hand. All the shelves and drawers are just plain cool! This one if from Crate & Kids.

The final thing (or maybe start here) would be to look for some fun sheets that make him feel good and safe. When I was a kid I slept with five Snoopys, and often couldn’t fall asleep until they were all there in the bed right around me. Discover what he needs to feel that great feeling and I bet he’ll run into his room every night. 🙂

Best, M

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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