Safety: It's important to take certain safety measures into consideration when you decide to move your child from a crib to a bed. First off, make sure your child is ready, and big enough to sleep in a standard bed on his or her own. If a child is big enough to stand up in a crib, and if the rail goes up to his or her chest, then odds are they're ready to start making the switch to a bed.
Durable construction is a must. Even if you don't think your child is rowdy, odds are they'll be jumping on the bed at some point, so it's best to play it safe rather than sorry. Round edges are always a plus too — any sharp edges could cause considerable injury if your child slips while playing on the bed.
Safety rails can be an important addition to a young child's first bed. Usually used for children between the ages of 2 and 5, a safety rail should be installed sturdily on the sides of a bed, leaving enough room at each end of the bed so a child can climb in and out without help. In general, it's important that your child is comfortable getting in and out of bed without adult help. This is partly why many experts suggest getting a toddler-sized bed, since they tend to sit closer to the floor and are a bit smaller, so they're a good transition between a crib and a standard bed.
Bunk beds are great because they save space, but the top of a bunk bed mattress should be at least 5 inches below the guard rails. Also, a bunk bed should have slats on the bottom of both the bottom and top mattresses, so that the mattress doesn't slip and injure a child. Bunk beds usually aren't a great idea for young children who are just adjusting to sleeping in a regular bed. Look for certain safety laws and industry standards, since bunk beds have undergone a lot of testing and legislation in recent years.
Size: The size of your bed depends partly on the age and size of your child, as well as how long you're hoping to use this bed for. While toddler beds are often recommended for children adjusting to standard beds, buying a new bed that'll only be used for a few years isn't always realistic in terms of a budget. If you don't want to spend that kind of money for a temporary sleeping arrangement, an interim solution could be to simply buy an extremely low-laying bed frame (with safety rails) to make it easy for a small child to get in and out of bed.
If you want to get a twin bed for your child, but are also hoping to push its use through adolescence, consider buying a twin XL. These beds are about five inches longer, and you may be able to get a few more post-growth spurt years out of them.
If there are slats on the bed frame, most experts suggest that they are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. If there are corner posts, they shouldn't extend more than an inch above the headboard and footboard. Also, if you're buying a new mattress, make sure you buy it at the same time you buy the bed, so you know you have the right size. A mattress that's too small or too large can cause injuries in small children.
Style: If you're purchasing a toddler bed, the benefit of it only being used for a few years is that you can really play around with the style. Race car beds, Princess beds, and other themed beds really allow your son or daughter to be a kid, and will be put in storage long before they get sick of it. But when your child starts getting older and a bed is needed for many years, it's worth considering a style that they (and you) wont' grow out of anytime soon. If you're undecided, err on the side of simple — less ornamentation usually means there are less elements to get tired of.
Bunk beds and loft beds are fun alternatives to standard twin beds in a child's room. Make sure you adhere to all safety standards, and choose a bed with a sturdy construction. Loft beds are great since they can be lofted up and a desk, futon, or other furniture can be placed underneath — so it's a major space saver. Bunk beds that can later be used as individual bunk beds are good choices as well.
Browse through a variety of kids beds in different styles, types, and materials here, along with information on where to purchase them.