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Bed Basics
Bed Basics

Why You Might Want To Try a Queen Bed for Your Toddler

Toddler Girl Sleeping on Bed With Her Stuffed Toy

Transitioning to a “big kid bed” is a significant milestone in a child’s life. It’s also a great chance to help your little one feel excited about their bed and their sleep.

While toddler or twin beds are popular, a queen bed for a toddler is a pro move for anyone with the space. The extra width offers room for cuddles and bedtime stories, which can help make the adjustment to the new sleeping environment easier. Unlike a toddler bed, a kid’s queen bed can be used for many years to come, minimizing waste as they outgrow shorter beds.

Here’s what the experts say about queen-size beds for toddlers, including whether it’s safe and the long-term advantages of investing in a large mattress for your little one.

Can a Toddler Sleep in a Queen-Size Bed?

A toddler can absolutely sleep in a queen-size bed, experts say. Any bed that’s safe and makes the child feel secure and comfortable can be a great sleeping environment.

“When parents ask me if they should move their child to a toddler bed or something bigger, the real question is what the limitations of their home are,” says Debbie Gerken, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, certified pediatric sleep coach and founder of Sleep Like a Baby Consulting. “Some families live in small apartments, so a toddler bed would be a more realistic fit for them.”

If you’ve got more space, though, there is no reason not to upgrade to a queen bed.

At What Age Should You Transition Your Toddler to a Queen-Size Bed?

Wait until your toddler is at least 3 years old before moving them to a queen-size bed (or any other “big kid bed”). Research on nearly 2,000 toddlers found that children who sleep in a crib for the first few years of their life tend to have better sleep quality, including longer sleep duration, fewer awakenings, and less bedtime resistance, so it’s important not to rush the transition.

“A lot of parents move their kid to a bigger bed before the age of 3, and it becomes a perfect storm of bedtime problems,” says Jessica Berk, a certified toddler sleep consultant and founder of Awesome Little Sleepers. “They may start running around at night or wanting their parents to sleep with them.”

Not only does that make it difficult for toddlers (and their parents) to get a good night’s sleep, but the impulse to get out of bed in the middle of the night could present safety issues.

“They usually don’t have the sleep skills in place, and they don’t have the cognitive ability to control the impulse to get up and out of bed before the age of 3,” Gerken explains.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that certain beds could be difficult for young children to climb in and out of if they’re in a tall bed frame. If that’s a concern, you could consider waiting until they’re a little older before making the transition or keeping the mattress on the floor temporarily as they get used to its size. Even though experts don’t recommend keeping a mattress on the floor, it might be worth the trade-off for the safety of a small child as you transition them to a larger bed.

Is Your Kid Ready for a Queen Bed?

A child’s third birthday is a great milestone to target when moving them out of their crib. According to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, other signs a toddler is ready for a bed include:

  • The child can pull themselves over the crib rail (or put their leg on the top rail).
  • They’re starting potty training.
  • The toddler is at least 35 inches tall.

Figuring out the right bed for your child is more subjective, though. Gerken notes that children with “certain temperaments, personalities, and sensitivities” may sleep better in a larger bed.

“A toddler bed or twin bed wouldn’t be the best choice for a child who is super spirited, very alert, or notices every change in their environment,” says Gerken. “A queen bed gives them more space to feel secure in their setting. They don’t get bothered by the limitations of the edge of the mattress.”

On the other hand, a child who’s already struggling with sleeping outside the crib may not be ready for a queen-size bed, says Berk. “Moving to a queen or even a twin bed can feel too big and a little less cozy than what the child is used to,” she explains.

Ultimately, it’s up to the parent or caretaker to decide whether a queen bed makes sense for their toddler.

Children who roll around might benefit from the space of a queen- or full-size mattress, though parents should always attach rails to prevent a child from rolling out of bed.

Why Choose a Queen Bed for Your Kid’s Sleep?

Toddler and twin-size beds tend to be a natural next step after the crib, but there are several reasons to choose a queen bed for a toddler instead.

You Can Save Money

One big advantage of queen-sized beds is the long-term cost. Even though a toddler bed is less expensive at the outset, as your child ages into a teen or preteen, they may prefer a queen mattress. Or, even further down the road, you may prefer a queen-size bed for guests to sleep on. Instead of spending money to upgrade the bedding and furniture, if you start with a queen-size bed, you may save money in the long run.

Children May Sleep Better

One reason to consider a queen bed instead of a twin is the extra space kids have to spread out while sleeping. Experts say this extra real estate for slumber may actually help kids sleep better.

“With the additional space a queen-size mattress affords, there is a decreased chance of a child being affected by the edges of the mattress and waking up,” says Gerken. “The child will have the ability to move more freely and not be disturbed by the limitations of a smaller mattress, which can be very helpful for a child who is very active, very restless, sensitive, or a lighter sleeper.”

With that being said, if your child’s bedroom can’t quite accommodate a queen-size bed, you can provide similar advantages with a full-size bed, which is 6 inches narrower and 5 inches shorter.

It’s Great for Guests

If your child’s room becomes the guest room when grandparents come to town, a queen bed is the best choice, as it’s the most comfortable option for couples over a shorter and narrower full or twin.

It’s Great for Sleepovers

When your child starts having sleepovers, a queen bed offers room for everyone, says Berk. Cousins and friends can pile in together and sleep comfortably. Or if they decide to stay up all night watching movies and having pillow fights, a queen-size bed has plenty of room for that, too!

Provides a Sense of Empowerment

A queen bed gives a child plenty of space to set up their sleeping environment exactly how they like it.

“The added space around them helps them feel like they have control, and that’s empowering for some children,” says Gerken.

Offers Space for Bonding

The entire family can join in on the toddler’s bedtime routine more easily when they have a larger bed, such as a queen or full. “It creates this time of connection if there are other siblings, and everyone meets at this bed for stories, prayers, and songs at bedtime,” says Gerken.

Plus, it has enough room for parents to lie down in bed with a child woken up by a nightmare. This means no more floor sleepovers and waking up with an aching back.

Dedicated Space for Self-Soothing

A queen bed can be particularly beneficial for children with anxiety.

“We teach these children different methods of meditating or sitting yoga poses to help them transition to sleep, and a queen bed offers the space to do that,” says Gerken. “A bigger bed also offers a calm space to down-regulate if a child had an overstimulating day.”

More Decor Options

Want your child’s bedroom design to match the tasteful aesthetics of the rest of your home? You might be better off getting them a queen-size bed. Smaller beds, like toddler beds and twin-size beds, don’t have as wide a variety of options for bed linens, bed frames, headboards, and other decor items and furniture as there are available for queen-size beds, says Eugene Zuniga, store manager at Mattress Firm Clearance Center Exchange Parkway.

Are There Downsides to Queen Beds for Toddlers?

While queen-size beds can offer many benefits for toddlers and small children, they might not work for everyone. Here are some potential downsides to be aware of.

Limited Space in the Bedroom

Trying to squeeze a queen-size bed into a small bedroom might not leave your child enough room for other activities, like playtime. In fact, it might not even fit in a small bedroom.

“If the bedroom can’t accommodate a queen, go for a full. You can still fit more than one child in there if they have a sleepover, and it still gives room to grow instead of being cramped in a small bed where there’s no room,” advises Penny Wyatt, store manager at Mattress Firm TPC Parkway.

It’s More Expensive

Another potential downside of buying a queen-size bed for a toddler is the up-front cost. As a general rule, larger mattresses tend to be more expensive than smaller ones. However, making the investment up-front could save you money down the road, especially if you anticipate that your child will be tall or will want to sprawl on their mattress. Plus, “there’s little difference between the cost of a full and a queen bed,” adds Zuniga.

Selecting the Perfect Mattress for Your Kid

Size isn’t the only factor to consider when selecting the perfect mattress for your kid. The type of mattress you choose will also affect the quality of their sleep.

“Memory foam mattresses tend to be too dense for kids, but a hybrid could be a good option,” says Zuniga. “It gives you spring back and less of a sinking feeling. It also helps keep them in correct alignment as they grow.”

Wyatt adds: “I believe the Tempur-Pedic is one of the best mattresses out there for a kid. No matter which one you start with, it will change with them as they grow. It adapts to different sizes, weights, sleeping positions and pressure points, which all change as kids grow.”

A mattress with a water-resistant surface can also be helpful for little kids who are potty training. If a mattress isn’t water-resistant, you can add a mattress cover to help protect it from small accidents. One favorite parenting hack is doubling up on protectors in case you need to strip one off in the middle of the night.

“Be mindful to use breathable fabrics so that you don’t trap their body temperature into the mattress. If you’re worried about accidents with younger kids and want to use a waterproof cover, make sure it’s breathable,” says Zuniga.

However, perhaps the most important factor in selecting the perfect mattress for your kid is how it feels to them. Many parents make the mistake of mattress shopping without bringing their child along. But just like adults, children have their own preferences when it comes to comfortable sleep.

“Bring the child in and let them be involved—they know what feels good to them. It’s so important to have the child’s input when shopping for a mattress,” says Wyatt.

Queen Versus Full

When it comes down to it, deciding whether a queen versus a full is best for your child is up to your personal preference and your child’s needs. While a queen-sized bed offers more space, it also takes up more space in the bedroom. A full-sized mattress measures 54 inches wide and 75 inches long, while a queen is 60 inches wide and 80 inches long, so the two mattress sizes are fairly comparable. If your child’s room is on the smaller side, a full may be your best choice for getting that extra 16 inches of room for tossing, turning or even hosting a sleepover guest.

Give Your Child a Better Night’s Sleep on a Queen Bed

A queen bed isn’t the most obvious choice for a toddler, but given the unique advantages it offers over a twin bed, it's definitely something to consider. It can be an empowering, supportive place for a child to sleep once they’ve outgrown their crib. And given its size, a queen bed can be used throughout a child’s adolescence and teen years, eliminating the need for you to shell out for mattress upgrades down the road.

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