Test the furniture for lead paint. Older pieces of children's furniture may be finished with paint containing lead, which is unsafe for children and parents alike. Hardware stores sell test kits that allow you to test paint and finishes for lead content with instant results. If your furniture has lead-based paint or finishes, wear a mask and gloves through the refinishing process.
Lay out drop cloths in a well ventilated area and disassemble the toddler bed as much as possible. Remove the mattress and place in a safe, dry area until the repainting is complete.
Thoroughly scrub all areas of the bed with soap and water and allow to air dry. Chip away peeling paint or wood using a chisel or paint scraper.
Use sandpaper over the entire bed frame to strip existing paint and finishes. This creates a rough surface, allowing the new paint to adhere better. Wearing a mask during this step prevents inhalation of paint and wood dust.
Wipe the sanded bed down to remove lingering paint and wood dust. Pay extra attention to joints, corners and fastenings.
Use masking tape to block off areas that do not need paint, including fastenings, screw openings and holes for pegs. This prevents the need to drill new holes later.
Apply a coat of primer to the bed and allow it to dry fully. Repeat this step until no trace of the old finish or color remains.
Apply the lead-free paint to the bed. Rollers create an even finish but may be too large to reach all areas, so have brushes on hand to finish tight areas. Lead-free spray paint also creates an even finish; if you use this type of paint, use brushes to smooth out any dripped areas. Allow the paint to dry and apply additional coats as needed to create a new color.
Use masking tape or painter's tape to hold stencils or design templates in place. Use lead-free paint to paint in those areas. This step is optional.
Apply a safe, low-VOC sealant to the bed. Look for sealants containing natural ingredients, such as tree resins or beeswax. Allow the sealant to dry fully. Reassemble your toddler bed.