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This DIY Toddler Bed is perfect for transitioning your little one from crib to big kid bed. The best part is they are super simple to build with some basic tools. This Toddler Bed can be completed in one day. The perfect weekend project. Learn how to build a toddler bed, and maybe even let your “big kid” join in on helping build.
This summer we started transitioning the twins into toddler beds. I can hardly believe we are already at that stage, but we are. We started with the “just take the side off the crib” option.
It worked well, but it wasn’t very cute. So when we decided to move all three boys into one room (yes, we are that crazy) we knew we wanted to ditch the cribs.
We decided that we would need a bunk bed and then one single bed. Originally our plan was to build toddler bunk beds, but The Goof (older brother) let us know that he really wanted a top bunk, and we realized that a toddler bunk bed might be a nightmare once the twins started potty training.
We decided that we wanted a toddler single bed (I have tiny kids, even my seven-year-old can still fit the height and requirements of a toddler bed).
We had a lot of fun building this toddler bed and it only took us one afternoon!
We decided to build one instead of just using the crib trick because we wanted our kids to feel like all of them were in big boy beds. That way neither of the twins was “a baby” for being in a crib.
Now, our crib mattresses had seen a lot of love. One had been used by the Goof and Baby A (I really need to decide on some nicknames for the twins). It was even torn up on the bottom from the springs in the crib catching it. OOPS! So it was time for a new mattress anyways.
One of the reasons we decided to make our own toddler bed is because I did not want a bed that was going to end up in a dump somewhere. And the high quality, wood toddler beds were kind of spendy.
When we were getting ready to do a DIY toddler bed, I was searching the internet for plans. Some of the plans we found had a 26 inch width. That fit perfectly for our old mattress, but when we looked at the dimensions of the Newton Baby mattress we were using, we realized that it was wider at 28″.
Another internet search later and we realized that crib sizes had changed since we last bought a crib/mattress, and since some of these plans came out. So be sure to measure the size of the mattress you will be using.
You can see the difference in mattress sizes in the picture above. In fact, the new mattress did stick out past where the crib railing would have been. So, if you have an old crib always be sure to check what size mattress it needs.
I was glad we checked the size of the mattress because I definitely wanted to utilize this mattress, so we just made our own plans (which I will be sharing in just a moment) to fit it.
Build A Toddler Bed In A Weekend
Since I had glanced at some other plans, as well as some bunk bed plans, I had a general idea of how to make a toddler bed, so we headed off to our local home improvement store to get a few supplies. Here is what you will need to make this toddler bed, including the cuts of wood.
FYI – After we were done using this as a toddler bed, you can check how we turned ours into a DIY couch for the patio or kids’ play room.
Tools For DIY Toddler Bed
- Table saw
- Wood Glue
- 2 inch wood screws
- Screw Driver
- Measuring tape
- Sand Paper
- Safety Goggles
Wood Cuts For Making This Toddler Bed
- 2 cuts 52″ – 1×6
- 2 cuts 52″ – 2×2
- 4 cuts 24″ – 2×2*
- 11 cuts 28″ – 1×4
- 6 cuts 28″ – 1×6*
Total Cost For Materials: Approximately $35
Start by cutting your wood pieces. Once you have done this, you really can finish the project inside. We built this bed right in our living room. It was super simple and didn’t take up much space at all.
Yes you read that right, we built it in our living room because it was cold and rainy outside, so we wanted to make sure the wood didn’t get wet.
DIY Toddler Bed Instructions
After cutting all of the wood pieces, give them a quick sanding to make sure you have smooth boards.
The first thing you will want to do is take your 52″ pieces. Use wood glue to attach a 2×2 to one of the 1×6 pieces. The 2×2 will be your cleat for the support slats to lay on and attach to. Repeat this process with the other two pieces. Be sure to check that your pieces are level.
While you are waiting for the glue to dry, you will work on the headboard and footboard.
Take two of the 24 inch 2×2’s and place 3 of the 28 inch 1×6 pieces between them. Figure out how you want them spaced. For us, we lined the top one flush with the top of the side posts, and then spaced them about 1/2 inch apart.
Mark where you want to screw them together so you can predrill your holes. For us, the first screw was 1 1/2 inches from the top, and then it worked out to placing the remaining screws 3″ apart. Each board has 2 screws on each side to hold them in place.
Repeat the same process for the footboard.
Now, you need to screw your railings together. Wood glue is strong but you definitely need to screw those 2x2s on there as well. We placed 3 screws in each railing. One on each end and one near the middle.
We personally just eyeballed it as we made sure to put the screws in through the inside so they aren’t visible.
Next, take your 28 inch 1×4 slats. You will want to place them between the two railings, spreading them out pretty evenly. Of course, not all of our cuts were perfect, so be sure to take the two that fit tightest and put them at the head and the foot. Attach those two pieces first using wood screws.
We checked to make sure it was square here before moving on. (It was.) I also suggest checking your mattress fits in here properly at this point.
After you have checked that it is square and your mattress fits, go ahead and attach all the remaining slats.
Finally, it is time to attach the headboard and the footboard. Be sure to use 2 screws for each post (4 screws total for Headboard, another 4 for the footboard). Make sure you measure and check that the bed is level after putting it all together.
You will notice, we put our siderails up high enough that they overlap with the bottom slats on the head and foot boards. I did this because I hate when there is a gap under the headboard that your mattress can slip under.
Of Course He Did….
Baby A loved his new toddler bed and his mattress. It fit perfectly in his new bed. He was so excited to sleep in his new bed that night. Of course, he had to go and pee through his diaper- something he never does- the very first night! #TrueStory
Thankfully, the mattress is completely washable. Seriously, I wondered about this when I heard it.
How can a mattress be completely washable? Well, check it out. We unzipped the mattress cover it comes with (which comes in multiple colors by the way) and it all made sense.
To wash it you simply throw the washable cover in the washing machine (following the instructions on the tag) and then you put your mattress in the tub or shower, and you can use the shower head to clean it with a mild soap.
This got me so excited because it is going to be perfect for when we start potty training. The ability to wash the entire mattress is HUGE! (Note, this also made it so we could use this as a patio furniture piece when we transitioned this to a couch.)
Now it does take a little bit for the mattress to dry, so I suggest placing a fan blowing on it, or using a blow dryer on a cool setting (per the mattress instructions) if needed.
Once you have made your bed, it is up to you if you want to paint it or maybe just seal it. We personally chose to stick with the natural look and just seal it.
We are now debating if we want to buy the bunk bed or make one of our own. We had a lot of fun making the toddler bed, and so I think we are leaning towards making our own, but we will see.
Update 2020: This project was a jumping off point and with 2020 being the year of being home, we have built a rustic headboard, changed this piece into a couch, and even built a bike rack! There are so many great simple projects you can do with basic tools.