Well the day has come. It is time for a big boy bed. I went into ‘Buddy’s’ room at nap time to find him standing in his crib, his tummy even with the top of the rail. I knew it was coming. I have been working out the plan for the last 6 months. Would we get a bigger bed? Purchase a special needs bed? Those of you who know me, know that is unlikely. Make a custom twin sized crib or find someone who would?

I started like I always do, Googling for images of special needs_____, in this case: beds. Just to see how other people solve the problem. What problem? Well, in our case a kid who is too tall for his crib, but doesn’t yet understand how to climb in or out of pretty much anything, much less safely. In addition, we are only just beginning to sleep through the night (sometimes) and don’t really want him roaming through the house when he isn’t asleep at 3am.

The last part was the easiest to solve. We put a baby gate at the entrance to his room and completely child proofed it. Everything is anchored to the walls. There are only two cords and they are both well anchored and hidden. The curtains were pinned up to halve their length and keep out of reach. All edges are padded. And lastly, the toys in there are quiet enough to sleep through…in case he wants to be up when we don’t.

The harder part was the bed. The first pictures I found of Pediatric Beds for Special Needs were basically twin sized cribs. The walls can vary from one to four feet high. The sides can be bars like a crib or Plexiglas, padded or not. No doubt there are kiddos who need this kind of bed for their safety, but I did not feel ‘Buddy’ did. Nor was I willing to pay the $7,000 plus price tag.   

Next I looked at day beds. My thinking was they would have three sides, and I would only have to worry about one open side. Then a friend mentioned a trundle bed. If he did fall out, he could land on the second mattress. Again, the price tag was high, for a maybe.

 I began to contemplate a custom bed, something that converts to a more traditional bed as he grew. But then I noticed the spring frame in his crib. I noticed the way the corners were reinforced and thought, well there is his new bed right there. So custom I would have. It would be simple and homemade, and very, very inexpensive. Here is what I did…

  • -4’x4’x8’ Doug Fir for $10. Home Depot cut 4: 5” pieces from it for me.
  • -12 wood screws about 1.5”
  • -12 washers
  • -Everbilt 2 in. Zinc Plated Double-Wide Mending Plates (4-Pack) $3.22
  • -Magic Sliders Round (or similar) (4-Pack)$7.98
  • -Paint (I used left over found in basement)
  • - drill bit to match your screws
  • -Drill
 Total price under $25
First I sanded the 4 – 5” blocks of wood, attached the slider feet, and painted them.

Next I took the crib apart, and stored it, keeping the spring frame and mattress out. I lined the blocks up to the corners of the frame and used the mending plates as a template to mark out the screw holes. Then I drilled the holes and screwed the plates down using the washers to balance the pull around the frame.

Then I put the crib mattress back on top. I am using a bed rail at the start to keep him from falling out while sleeping, but with the bed only 5 inches off the ground and a padded rug under it, he should have a fairly safe learning process.

(Oh, I added foam padding to the exposed corner of the frame too. The mattress covers it, but just in case...)

So, how is it working? Great! It is basically the same bed, same mattress and same smells. He is sleeping great, well, normally, which my husband will tell you is not great yet, but it isn’t worse. I purposely left a corner open for him to be able to crawl in and out. I did not however help him find it. My hope was that it would be a while before he found it. Well, he was a quick study. He found it the second day at nap time. I padded the floor with pillows just in case and out he came, head first walking his hands out like a wheelbarrow and legs kicking in the air. He was completely safe and completely hilarious. Now that he has found his way out, we are working on getting back in. Happily, getting out is not his first thought. On day three nap time he played quietly in his bed for a full hour, no fuss and no escape. I call that a success, and you can’t beat the price.

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