First, what the hell is a toddler rail?
It's an accessory to the crib. You remove the front panel of the crib and replace it with the toddler rail. It's similar to the front panel, only shorter and has a section of bars cut away so that the toddler can climb in and out on their own. They also make toddler rails for adult sized beds. The idea being that they can get in and out on their own, but the rail part of it helps keep them from falling out of bed at night.
I don't know about you, but I grew up without one and turned out just fine. (Minus a few ticks and the fact that I'm nuts... juuuuuuuuuuuust kidding!).
But there we were in the expensive baby store (no, actually, it was not Babys'R'Us) looking around at all of the beautiful baby furniture. Daddy and I had differing opinions on cribs. He wanted a black sleigh bed crib. I wanted a white anything-but-a-sleigh-bed crib. We compromised and bought a white sleigh bed crib.
Once the crib was picked out then there were the options of matching furniture. We passed on that, opting to look for other pieces elsewhere. The nice thing about white furniture is that it matches other white furniture. So, you don't have to buy the set. That worked out because we found some awesome other pieces later.
Back to the crib. Then we had to decide if we wanted the toddler rail and the bed converter kit (converts the crib into a double bed). What to do?
And there I was, bulbous, glowing like the shine on new baby toys, needing to pee, sit down, eat something and pee again. And trying to decide what's best for baby on the way. There we were paying lots of money for a beautiful crib, and the idea of getting to keep the little bundle of joy in it longer seemed like such a wonderful notion. How could be not? And, we're being safe and neurotic parents by having the rail to prevent falls, right?
(By the way, we did not buy the converter kit. Daddy said no son of his would sleep in a white bed. I was thinking more along the lines of preparing for baby number 2- and no, Sheila, I'm not pregnant. I figured by the time Billy was ready for a bigger bed, we'd need the crib for number 2.)
Well, we just installed the toddler rail on the crib. It was easy to install, at least on our model of crib. I'm not a fan of how it looks. They cheaped out on making it (the manufacturer) and the rail does not go to the top of the sides or all the way to the floor. So, it looks like it's just jammed on the front. But Billy likes it so far. He slept like a baby in his new "big boy" bed.
Is this better than a toddler bed? Probably about the same. Better than a twin mattress on the floor? Maybe a little nicer looking. I think it just depends on your taste. At least, he's comfortable with sleeping in it, since it's still his old crib, just converted to a bed now. And since we don't have baby on the way, we need some place to store the crib. Storing only the front panel is much easier than the whole thing. So, there's that.
Now, without the stars of pregnancy in my eyes, I'm not entirely sold on the toddler rail, except that we already bought it so we'll use it. More than anything, I'm not so sure about this free-range toddler concept. Billy on the loose? I'm going to have to sleep with one eye open!