What is the Difference Between a Toddler Bed & Twin Bed?

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Your child has outgrown his crib but you are unsure whether you should purchase a toddler bed or a twin bed. Ensuring your child does not fall out of the bed is perhaps the most important component when deciding what type of bed to purchase, besides the bed being sturdy and comfortable. Twin beds are often the more practical of the two choices, as children will not outgrow them for quite sometime.

Toddler Bed Definition

  • While a toddler bed is lower to the ground than a crib, it uses the same size mattress. Toddler beds are essentially mini versions of twin beds and feature bed rails about 2 inches above the mattress surface, according to Consumer Reports. The rails keep the children from falling off the bed and help them feel safe and secure. Toddler beds should not have any sharp edges, points or protruding hardware; rather, they should feature rounded edges, a smooth finish and sturdy construction. Toddler beds often come in fun colors and shapes, such as a hard, rounded plastic race car bed.

Twin Bed Definition

  • A twin bed is also referred to as a single bed, and can be sold alone or as part of a matching set of twin beds. Mattress dimensions of twin beds in the United States are about 39 inches by 75 inches. Such beds generally have a headboard. They also are available with removable bed rails or as bunk beds. The rails can be removed once a child reaches a certain age and the bed may last him well into his teen years.

Considerations When Buying

  • Oftentimes parents debate whether they should purchase a toddler bed due to how quickly children grow, meaning they will soon be too big for such beds. Twin beds with removable rails are often considered the more practical option, according to the Berkley Parents Network, as they can be utilized long after children are toddlers. Placing pillows and cushions around a twin bed is also an option until children are big enough. Twin beds also make it easier to lie down with your child and read to her or tell her stories.

Additional Tips

  • Should you decide to go with the toddler bed option, ensure the bed meets industry standards. For example, the bed's corner posts or finials should not be more than 0.06 inch above the upper edge of the side or end panel of the bed, according to the American Society for Testing and Materials via Consumer Reports. Buy either toddler or twin beds and mattresses together to avoid mattresses that are too big or too small. Bed rails for twin beds should be used until the child is 5 years old.

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