I have a vision for my daughters’ shared room: bunk beds against the wall so they can have enough space to play dress-up and attempt cartwheels without crashing into anything. Trouble is, they already have big-girl beds I bought (at moderate expense) just a few years ago when my now seven-year-old was too little to sleep safely on a top bunk. I was thinking short-term — and that’s the number one mistake parents make when they’re shopping for kids’ beds, says interior designer Nicole Fox. The owner of Novus Designs in Red Deer, Alta., gives her clients two pieces of advice: think long-term and work with the space you’ve got.
Size it up
If your child’s room is large enough, Fox says, a double bed makes sense. Parents will welcome the added space when they have to bunk in with their little ones (thunderstorms, stuffy noses).Kids will appreciate the extra legroom when they become teens. And if you’re planning to co-sleep, it’s a no-brainer.
But if a large bed will dominate the room, stick with a twin. As kids get older, they’ll want to play in their rooms more. Plus, you may want to add a desk or a larger dresser down the road. If you want to consider space-saving bunk or loft beds but your kids aren’t old enough, then an inexpensive interim bed is a sensible option.
As for those toddler beds? Fox advises skipping them altogether. “It’s just not cost-effective,” she says. “They grow out of them so fast.” Instead, if safety is a concern, consider attaching a guardrail to a full-size bed, or placing a mattress on the floor until your child learns to sleep without rolling off.
Keep it neutral
After size comes style. Here parents are wise to remember that children’s tastes change — fast and often. “I tell my clients to keep the bed frame neutral and stay away from beds that are themed or brightly coloured,” she says. “If they want a princess or a car room, then do it with the decor.” Bedding, posters and displayed toys can be easily swapped for the next fad.
Don’t forget the soft stuff
If you’re buying a mattress separately from the frame, check that the dimensions match. For instance, a twin marked XL is five inches longer than a standard. If your budget allows, you may want to check out eco-options too. Rick Smith, co-author of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, recommends parents look for natural latex foam or organic cotton mattresses to protect kids from inhaling the toxins found in PVC, polyurethane and flame retardants used in some conventional models. If you don’t have $1,000-plus to drop on an eco-friendly mattress, Smith suggests buying a non-toxic pillow (about $60), which he says “may be even more important than the mattress,” because kids breathe so close to it through the night.