Mihret's been napping on a cot without side rails at day care "school" for awhile, so we decided to see what steps we could take at home to get her ready for a big-girl bed.
We don't think she's quite ready to be tucked into a bed without rails yet, because she would likely roam free. We have a gate at the top of our stairs and we could shut all the other doors to the upstairs hallway, but we'd still worry. I'd also heard a suggestion to try shutting her door, but she can escape - believe me. She loves figuring out how to open doors and she's very good at it.
Her crib turns into a toddler bed - take off the rails, and presto. Then, when she outgrows her toddler bed, apparently we go out and purchase a large mattress and reconfigure the crib parts in some way that makes sense, and presto - an "until-you-leave-the-nest" twin bed.
What we decided to do, you've probably already figured out from the photos. We made up a bed for her, with new big-girl pillow, pillowcase, comforter and sheets inside her crib, so it's basically a bed with rails. We figure maybe when she's about 2.5, it will be an easier transition from there to taking off the rails and tucking her in.
Josh usually puts Mihret to bed, after we finish our family reading and prayers routine, I give last kisses, sing a final lullaby and leave the room. He's reported that Mihret seems more willing to let him leave the room and fall asleep on her own now that she's in her pseudo-big-girl bed.
They'll start off sitting in her rocker and then Mihret will tell him when she wants to get into her big-girl bed. Then, Josh will rub her back for a bit, until she tells him, "Daddy, you can go potty now." (That's how he got her to let him leave the room, by telling her he had to go use the potty. :) )
She loves to put her babies, Grover, Elmo, etc., to bed, too. She hasn't jumped out of her crib at night, and this is comforting. Big-girl bed makes everyone happy!