After much reading/looking/agonizing, I've decided that sidecarring a mini crib to our bed in lieu of an arm's reach is the best way to go for our bed setup. I am still confused though--will any mini crib that you can remove the fourth railing work, or does it specifically need to be a convertible type? I've seen mini convertible cribs that convert to twin sized head boards, and then mini cribs that convert to toddler day beds as well. I (maybe falsely) assumed when we originally were going to sidecar a full sized crib that it needed to be a convertible crib that converted specifically to a day bed, so that the crib would be sturdy enough to stand with three sides. Will we be ok just getting a mini crib that's not necessarily labeled as a convertible crib? Also, do I need to worry about a mini crib not being high enough to sidecar to our bed without any sort of modification? The top of our mattress appears to be 27". Most of the mini cribs seem to be between 38-42" high. Thanks!
2 questions about sidecarring a mini crib..
I don't know about the OP, but unless someone has a lot of extra money, I personally wouldn't waste time with a mini crib. They look adorable but they're only good for a few months. You can sidecar any regular crib just as well and don't have to worry about buying new sheets and bedding again.
I meant when they outgrow the mini crib, they might not be ready for their own bed yet. My son is 13 months old now and a mini crib would have been too small for him already... he moves around at night and inch-worms his way from one end to the other until he hits his head in his sleep. I only needed the sidecaring for the first few months and at 6 months he slept through the night so I put him in his crib to sleep at night now. Stores always try to sell you expensive cribs which "convert" to a twin or a double bed but I've never actually seen anyone actually use the crib as a headboard at the end. I'm sure people DO use them, but they're not the awesome money-saving feature stores make them out to be, especially since you have to buy separate rails and a kit to attach to it later which are $100-$150... and you have to buy the twin/double mattress anyway... beds aren't THAT expensive that you'd been to spend an extra few hundred $ on a crib to make the future bed cheaper... and if you have a second baby, you'll need the crib pieces again anyway.
We just bought a regular Ikea crib, it was the most expensive one they had and it was still under $200 for the crib and mattress. You can take off one side and it turns into a toddler bed (or sidecar). It looks silly and misproportioned as a toddler bed but I can't complain for $200 for 3-4 years.
We used the arms reach when ds was a little baby and it felt cozy to me because he was so little, I felt he slept better in it than he might have in a big crib. HE outgrew it pretty quickly (cant remember at all exactly how long) and we sidecarred a regular sized crib. We got a wooden full size crib and took off a side- but ours came with a wood bar that goes across the bottom of the side you take off- I think it is a pacific rim crib- so that bar keeps the whole thing in place. I am not sure how it would work without that. I love the sidecarred crib though- it works well for us.
It is side-carred to our bed. We just left one side off when assembling it, and put the mattress at the highest setting. I can measure the mattress height options later if you want (dd is asleep in it right now).