Time really does fly with kids – it probably feels like yesterday when they came into the world and you held them for the very first time.
However, now that they’re well on their way to becoming all grown up, you need to start thinking about doing away with the baby-centric nursery, changing it into a big kid’s bedroom that more suited to your toddler’s needs.
Change always brings challenges, and repurposing a nursery is no different. There’s plenty to think about here – bed options, room decor, storage, creating room for play – the list goes on and on. But don’t despair; this is why we’ve created this post – to make the transition all the more straightforward, giving you a list of easy-to-follow steps and tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
Table of Contents
When to start thinking about converting the nursery into a toddler room?
The general consensus is that it’s time to start thinking about making the switch from nursery to toddler room anywhere between 18 months and three years.
There’s no hard and fast rule here – and just like any other element of child development – kids progress at different rates. This means that while some children may be escaping their crib at 18 months, eager to make the transition, others will be perfectly fine with their present sleeping arrangement for a little while longer.
It’s also important to keep in mind that kids need routine, which makes any drastic change something to avoid. Instead, opt for slower, gradual change over time. So, don’t rush it – take your time with the process, and remember to keep your little one involved as much as possible, helping to make them feel that they are part of the process.
8 tips and steps to change a nursery into a big kid’s bedroom
So, let’s get into it. Here is our list of eight easy-to-follow tips and steps to make transitioning your little one’s nursery into a big kid’s bedroom.
1. Upgrade the crib to a big-kid bed
The first sign most parents get that their baby has graduated into toddlerhood is a loud thud in the night – the sound of them escaping their crib for the first time. At this point, you know it’s time for your child to make the move from crib to bed. You’ve got a couple of options here – the first, and if you initially bought a crib with a removable side rail, you can simply remove it, converting it into a toddler bed. If you didn’t buy such a crib, then you’ll need to invest in a brand new toddler bed.
One thing to keep in mind is to avoid bunk or sleeper loft-style, elevated beds – as these present two distinct dangers. The first, specifically in the case of bunk beds, is that should the bed collapse, the child on the bottom will be injured – and the second is the risk of your little one rolling out of it in their sleep. While it can be tempting to look at these sorts of beds, especially if you’re short on space, the general advice is that these beds aren’t suitable for children under six years old.
You probably bought your little one’s dinosaur crib bedding way back when they were just a baby, so now presents an excellent opportunity to switch it out for something more age-appropriate. Thankfully, if they’re into dinos – there are loads of great dinosaur toddler bedding sets on the market to choose from. It’s also a good idea to get them involved in the decision making, letting them help shop for one, picking out a set that they absolutely love.
2. Switch out the changing table for a dresser
By now, your little one will be well on their way to being potty trained – if they aren’t already – and will likely be wearing pull-ups instead of regular diapers.
This means for your freestanding changing table because it’s now pretty much redundant, making it a great way to switch it out for a more practical piece of furniture, like a dresser. If instead you went for a changer top, remove it, give the dresser a good wipe down, maybe give it a good paint, and start to repurpose it for storage.
Alternatively, suppose it isn’t a dresser with a design purpose made to appeal to toddlers. In that case, you might want to consider throwing it away, replacing it with something a little more brightly colored and themed, provided you’re not on a budget.
3. Now that they’re more mobile, it’s time to maximize floor space for play
Perhaps the single biggest difference between toddlers and babies is their ability to move around, navigate, and explore the world around them independently. This means that you need to give them plenty of room to play, so remove whatever you can to clear plenty of floor space, giving them the room to do so.
You’ll also want to think about fun, decorative items that are great for play, placing them in your newly opened up room. There are plenty of great options, whatever the theme and style of your room, giving you lots of room to be creative in your design and put together your little one’s playing space in their big kid bedroom.
The first must-have item is a good dinosaur rug – ideally, one that doubles up as a dinosaur play mat – followed by other fun things that are as great as decoration as they are for play. This could include a cute dinosaur rocking toy, a mini kitchen, a dolls house – there are plenty of functional, beautiful looking items that add to both the decor and fun of your little one’s bedroom space.
4. If you’ve got the space for it – think about creating a cozy reading nook
We all want the best for our children and want to do whatever we can to give them a kick start when it comes to their education. Perhaps the single biggest thing you can do in this regard is to get them interested in reading, helping to give them a jump start over the other kids in their class.
One way to promote this early on – and provided you have the space for it – is to create a dedicated, cozy reading nook. How? Well – it’s real easy. You want to pick a spot, usually a corner of a room with access to good amounts of natural light, and start decorating – filling it with all sorts of things that make them feel snug, comfortable, and align with their interests. Maybe set up a dinosaur play tent, throw in a couple of dino blankets, a dinosaur bean bag, maybe a plush dinosaur toy or two – and of course – get yourself some book storage and a set of dinosaur bookends to help keep it well-organized and tidy.
It’s also worth getting some lighting for bedtime reading and storytime – so why not pick up an awesome dinosaur table lamp or some other decorated lighting, like dinosaur string lights. The most important thing with creating a reading nook is to have fun with it – there are no hard and fast rules, so go wild, unleashing yours and your little one’s creative side.
5. Take this opportunity to re-organize and re-evaluate storage
The transitions from nursery to big kid’s room is the perfect opportunity for your to re-evaluate storage and re-organize, enabling you to make the most of the space in your little one’s bedroom. Now is an ideal time, considering that you’re in the process of moving and switching out different furnishings and baby-related items that your child no longer needs.
One of the first things to think about are toys – as now your child is more mobile – they’ll do a lot more playing than they did as a baby, making it essential to invest in a child-friendly dinosaur toy box, giving them easy access to all their little dino toys. You’ll also want to start packing away things that they won’t use – dino baby toys, like rattles, or “my first” interactive toys are prime candidates for long-term storage or being giving away to friends or charity, helping to remove clutter.
The point of this is to clear plenty of space for both their new, bigger kid toys, as well as to make room for them to run around and play in their room – something they didn’t need before when they were just a baby. It’s also about fostering independence. At this age, you want to start helping them take more responsibility for their things – making it essential to store and organize them in a way that is accessible for them to do so effectively. This means kid-friendly dressers, furniture, and other storage options, that are accessible to them so that they can get to their stuff independently, without always need to ask for mommy or daddy’s help.
6. While you’re at it, maybe it’s time for a room decor refresh
Another thing to consider, especially while in the process of re-organizing, is whether or not to give your little one’s room a decor refresh. Think about things like baby wall charts – with “my first words”, the alphabet, and numbers – it’s time to switch these out for more advanced, age-appropriate alternatives that reflect your child’s interests.
This is also essential for making them more independent, as restyling and redecorating their room, helping your little one put their own stamp on it. Put up a few awesome dinosaur wall decals, dinosaur posters featuring characters from their favorite dino movies or shows, or even a new lick of paint or fresh dino wallpaper. Do away with the baby blue or pink decor, replacing it with a bright, more-fun, and age-appropriate color pallet, making their room a fun, exciting place that they want to spend time playing in.
Before you do anything else, first think about longevity – you don’t want to be constantly redecorating, so you want to freshen up room decor in a way that will last for at least a few years. While how you color the walls isn’t that much of a big deal – a fresh lick or pain or change of wallpaper can be completed on a pretty low budget over a weekend – you do want to think about furnishing. While a bright, multi-colored toddler dresser might look amazing now – are they going to be so keen on it once they hit big school? They might – but there’s a good chance that they won’t – so keep major furniture pieces neutral and classic, ensuring that they’ll last for many years to come.
7. Create an accent or feature wall, using wallpaper, paint, or wall decals
Wallpaper has made somewhat a comeback in recent years, which is no more true than for the accent or feature wall. If you’re unfamiliar, this is where you pick out a single wall to decorate with wallpaper, creating a unique, striking feature in any room.
If wallpaper isn’t your thing, and you’re feeling pretty creative – why not try your hand at painting a simple, eye-catching wall mural. While this option may seem a little daunting at first, there are plenty of dinosaur stencils you can pick up that can turn even the least artistic person into someone capable of putting up an impressive piece of wall art.
Another option would be to go for dinosaur wall decals, of which there are plenty to choose from, all of which are pretty easy to put up without too much effort or know-how. Whichever way you go, if you’ve ever considered doing something like this, now would be the time, while you’re busy re-organizing and changing out furniture as part of the process of turning your little one’s nursery into their big kid room.
8. Don’t forget to toddler-proof everything the best you can
Now that your child is more mobile, there is a much greater risk of them getting hurt – making it essential to do your best to child-proof your home, doing what you can to mitigate the chances of them seriously injuring themselves if they trip, bump, or fall.
You, like most new parents, probably went through a baby-proofing frenzy early on – so the first step is to double-check that all these measures have held up, replacing anything that has degraded or has been subjected to wear and tear. But what’s important to remember is that while much of the same safety-proofing applies to toddlers as it does to babies, there are more things you need to think about, given their new-found mobility.
Make sure you invest in a couple of outlet covers to prevent your little one sticking anything into electric sockets, bolt any bulk furniture to the wall, preventing the risk of it falling over if bumped, and definitely get yourself a safety gate for the top of the stairs.
Making the step from nursery to toddler room is a big step; it’s also a pretty huge developmental milestone, as your little baby is not a baby anymore – they’re well on their way to becoming their own little person, with their own personality and interests.
While change can be tricky at first – and it will be – accept that the process can be very much trial and error, taking some time to get right. Also, be sure to make the switch as gradually as possible so as not to disrupt your child’s daily routine too much in one go – as this will help more than anything else to make the process go smoothly.
But most of all, be sure to have fun with it! Get creative and go nuts decorating your little one’s dino-themed bedroom, giving them their own prehistoric wonderland to sleep and play in.