Look! DIY Toddler Bed for $20

Toddler beds may not be for everyone, but as it turns out, they're for my toddler. Here's the saga of a preternaturally agile and stubborn (though still adorable) little boy, a semi-frustrating trip to Ikea, and a very handy husband who saves the day:

A toddler bed was never part of my master plan. However, my little guy did not consult my master plan. Said plan - hatched well before he was born - was to get a set of bunk beds that he and his now-four-year-old brother would someday share. For safety reasons, we didn't install the ladder. The idea was that our older boy would sleep on the bottom bunk until he was five or so, at which time he'd be old enough to move up top. By then, our younger boy would be around three, and ready to transition out of the crib and into the bottom bunk. Clever, huh?

The flaw in my (now laughable) plan is that I never anticipated that my little guy would start climbing out of his crib before his second birthday.

A simple solution would have been to just put the crib mattress on the floor, right? Again, that simple solution doesn't take into account an unusually opinionated, stubborn, and vocal toddler. ("Noooo! Don't want to sleep on floor! Want a big-boy bed like Sammy!") But the only free space in their room is just big enough for a crib, not a twin bed.

So we made a family trip to Ikea, having reluctantly decided to pick up one of their inexpensive toddler beds, which we assumed would fit a standard crib mattress. Fortunately, my husband thought to take mattress measurements before we left the house, in order to compare them to the bed size in the store. As it turns out, no dice. Ikea toddler beds are the same width as a standard crib but a full foot longer. Maybe toddlers are taller in Sweden?

Anyway, there we were, needing a small bed for a small space, yet unwilling to buy another bed AND another mattress. What to do... what to do...

No problem, my ever-resourceful husband assured me. He pillaged the Ikea warehouse for a Vikare guard rail ($10) and a set of their Sultan Lade toddler bed slats ($10). That same day, he built a simple yet sturdy bed frame using some leftover wood from another project, trimmed the store-bought slats to fit lengthwise (easily done, because they're attached with mesh webbing), installed the safety rail, and set the whole shebang up in the boys' room - all in the space of about three hours.

Was I impressed? Yes, indeed.

The "little big-boy bed" (as our older son calls it) looks perfect in the space; in fact, it's an almost perfect match for the Ikea Mydal bunkbed that both boys will someday use.

Most important, it's solved the nocturnal escaping problem. I'm relieved we didn't plop down a bunch of money for a bed that, really, is only going to get used for about a year. And when the time comes, this little bed is well-made enough that we'll feel good about passing it along to another family in a tight spot.

(Images: Tammy Everts)

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