Ocean Nursery Update 2 – Turning the Mini Crib into a Toddler Bed

We originally bought a mini crib for baby #1 because we were living in a tiny one bedroom apartment and honestly couldn’t fit a full size crib  (I even gave up one of my 3 dressers to fit the mini – oh parenthood). Luckily my husband, Nick, and I are small people and O is no different, so we never felt the need to swap up to a standard crib. Little O is now 2 years old and still seems totally happy with it. Pregnant mommy, however, is no longer okay with lifting her into the crib anymore – ouch! So we decided it was time to convert her mini crib into a toddler bed. Unfortunately, this turned out to be more complicated than originally anticipated.

Our mini crib (and most others) will convert into a twin bed, but I thought that would be too big a change right now with baby #2 coming so soon – at least with 3 sides of her crib still up, she’d still have that safe, enclosed feeling she’s gotten used to and hopefully make it an easy transition. Now, lots of full size cribs have ready-made toddler conversion rails to turn a crib into a daybed, but after hours of searching, I’m almost positive they just don’t exist for mini cribs. My first thought was since the standard size rails look like a sideways letter P, maybe we could get one meant for a full size crib and just cut off part of the long stem to fit. But unfortunately the tall part that keeps you child from rolling out of bed (the loop of the P in my example) measured pretty much the entire length of the mini crib, so there’d be no way for O to crawl in. I realized we were going to have to make it ourselves.

Inspiration – the Muu Sam

I found the Muu Sam crib above while doing my search for the non-existent mini crib conversion rails and fell in love. My husband originally wanted to just cut the existing side that would be taken off anyway (which would mean the toddler rail would have slats instead of this pretty flat surface to paint on), but that side becomes the headboard or footboard when converting to a twin bed, so we’re definitely not destroying it (we will have to come up with something crafty to use the 2 short sides for though, when the time comes). Luckily, Nick is great at projects like these and has friends with big tools (thanks Greg!) so he got to measuring. We wanted to make sure the rail would line up with the original screw holes that were already in the crib to hold the 4th side up. We also learned O is obsessed with inserting pegs/screws/bolts into holes (you can see her toddler hands helping out in the photo below – time to get her a baby tool kit!).

Clearly so excited :)

Once the rail was glued and assembled, Nick painted it white – yes, unlike in the disaster of Nursery Update 1, we did it the right way this time – with 2 coats of Mythic zero-VOC paint. We still think better safe than sorry when it comes to paint fumes though, so I was ousted from helping with the large area painting (Nick was also doing coats of blue on the dresser). But I did pull out my non-toxic acrylic craft paint to do the sharks (in our open, well-ventilated garage with stretching breaks). And here’s the finished product:


  1. I am so happy that I found this blog! I have been on the hunt for something like this. We are wanting to use a mini as a co sleeper next to our bed for awhile, and I have been curious if it would work with a mini as I know many do that with a regular. Maybe I missed it, but is this the davinci Emily? Thanks!

  2. We have the exact same mini crib! Besides the very cool whale railing piece, did you guys just remove the front side of the crib? Li’l sis is moving into big sis’s room, and we would love to be able to safely convert this crib into a daybed.

    • Nice and thanks! Yes, we just removed the entire one side of the crib and replaced it with our half piece. I thought we might have to leave the round rail at the very top for stability (since it’s a separate piece) but the crib was totally fine without it – which was good because my daughter would have totally just hung off it and that could have created a stability issue in itself. Good luck converting yours if you decide to do it. I’d love to see pictures!

  3. Nathalie says:

    Can I pleaseeee have the dimensions of the pieces you used??? I’m dying to make this ASAP. You should sell these! Lol

  4. Can I pleaseeee have the dimensions of the pieces you used? You should sell these!

  5. Weird question but we also have a mini crib and not a lot of space… out 18 month old is now 32″ and the mini crib mattress is 38″… how tall was your LO when you transitioned her out of her toddler bed?

    • Good question – I have no idea! I think the time to transition can be based on sleep style as well as height. If your child curls up into a ball to sleep, they may be able to stay in a mini crib longer than a child who flings themselves around and splays out at night. In our case, we were getting ready to have a second baby, so we were forced to free up the crib regardless of height. Good luck with the transition!

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