A good time to reassess the sleeping arrangements of toddlers is when they are ready to move from cot to first bed, at around the age of two, especially if the original nursery furniture is too small to accommodate a full-sized bed. While proximity to the main bedroom is a priority with a new baby, parents of an early rising toddler may prefer to put some distance between them for the sake of a few more minutes’ peace in the mornings. Depending on the furniture toddler layout, the bedroom should ideally be situated away from the noise of the living room.
If you are planning a toddler’s room from scratch, your main concerns should be furniture safety, practicality and visual appeal – in that order.
Safety first Fearless toddlers can easily hurt themselves, turning innocent everyday furniture items into potential hazards.
The same care you exercise when buying safe toddler toys, non-toxic paints and crayons and so on, should be taken when choosing the furniture and furnishings for their bedrooms. Choose fitted toddler furniture or heavyweight furniture which cannot be pulled over and has no sharp edges: lead-free paint for re-vamping an old chest, bed or chair; child-proof locks for furniture cupboards the contents of which you prefer left intact; safety covers for electric sockets; non-slip mats and floor- coverings; safety gates for adjacent stairways; and safety catches for windows so they don’t open too far.
Make sure that toddlers’ playthings are well within reach, or they may turn into mountaineers as they try to overcome the challenge of high shelves and furniture cupboards. If you want to protect books and other precious or breakable items, try to store them in another room away from toddlers; if they have to go on high furniture shelves in the room itself, provide a stable step or stool for an older child to reach them in safety.
DOS AND DON’TS
The guidelines below will help your toddlers room resist rough treatment.
A toddlers room is no place for expensive finishes which can be heart-breakingly ruined at the stroke of a felt-tip pen. Washable vinyl paint is much more likely to keep its good looks and does not date in the same way as childrens’ patterned wallpapers. Pictures,furniturem, pinboards or murals can all introduce an element of pattern.
Fitted carpets or carpet tiles are best for warmth and comfort, though not perhaps the most durable floorcovering for a toddler.
Furniture ‘Building-in’ is a wise investment, as it is both secure and space- saving. One floor-to-ceiling furniture cupboard should provide all the hanging space needed for small clothes; a series of shelves below for shoes and toys can be removed as the clothes become longer.
If the budget won’t stretch to fitted furniture, choose sturdy freestanding pieces with a combination of hanging and drawer space. Nursery furniture is soon outgrown; re-vamped old furniture is practical and cheap.
Buy a standard-sized bed with a sprung mattress and safety guard rather than an uneconomical toddlers bed’. And if you want a second toddlers bed for occasional visitors, trundle beds (where the extra toddlers bed is stored below the main bed) or perhaps a futon rolled up to become a sofa are preferable to bunk beds.
A tidy toddler is a rare being indeed – but providing ample, accessible furniture storage helps maintain some order. Open cubes and shelves, and plastic or wicker baskets are a good combination.
A PLACE TO PLAY
As toddlers begin to make friends, they are usually quite happy to spend more time playing with them in their own rooms. Making the room a pleasant and stimulating place to be will encourage this newly-discovered independence.
Growing toddlers may want to contribute their own decorative ideas, insisting on the presence of favourite book or TV characters. But since their tastes are bound to change, these are best kept to the cheapest elements (such as pictures and lampshades) with a fairly plain, though bright, background, and not the furniture.
To be congenial, toddlers’ bedrooms need to cater for the many activities likely to be crammed into a day. Allocating separate areas for different pastimes encourages toddlers to move naturally from one to another. While messy activities are best confined to the kitchen, toddlers like to display their creations on a furniture pinboard or cork-covered wall. (Sticky tab fixings are safer than drawing pins.)