You will no doubt have spent hours researching your baby's cot when you were pregnant - should you choose a Moses basket/crib/cot/cot bed; should you choose a pocket-sprung or foam mattress; should you choose a cot with enclosed sides or slats? That was when you had lots of time to while away the hours in shops or pouring over catalogues or internet pages - do you remember those days?
Now that your baby has arrived and is swiftly turning into a child, you'll still want to make the right choice for their 'big girl/boy bed' but will certainly have less time and opportunity to browse.
Many parents opt for beds that are naturally close to the ground for their child's first bed, there are a lot of contemporary beds thrown into the mix. This negates the need for additional safety guards, which can make bed changing difficult and can occasionally pose a trap-hazard for your little one if they don't quite fit the bed perfectly. Few beds come with bed guards to match, so choosing a generic bed guard or rail does pose a slight risk that your child may become trapped between the mattress and the rail. Much of this risk depends on the age of your child, of course.
If you don't want to choose a bed that is close to the ground, and you don't want or can't afford a bed guard, then consider using your child's baby mattress: keep it under the new bed, and at night simply pull it out so that it lays next to the new bed and then if your child does fall out, he/she will have a nice soft landing and probably won't even wake up.
Painted beds look really nice in a child's room. If you choose a white bed to begin with, as they get older you (and they) can add different colours, stencils or stickers to personalise it and co-ordinate it with their tastes and the rest of the room.
When they get a little older, you might want to consider getting a bunk bed with storage or perhaps a desk underneath. Bunk beds are available as single beds or as double beds - if your child is getting older then a double bed might suit best so that they have plenty of room to stretch out. Of course, if you have two children sharing a room then a double bunk bed is ideal - though only if there are no fights about who gets the top bunk! Remember when buying a bunk bed that the sheets will need changing - be sure that you are prepared and able to get up there to do so (a good tip is to take the mattress off, put the sheet on an put it back up - that only works if it's a fairly thin and light mattress though!).
If you take your child to the bed store to choose their own bed, you are sure to come back with one that looks like a space ship or a princess's carriage. If you don't want to spend money on something that they'll be bored of (or embarrassed by) in a couple of years then shop for your bed online or go to the shop on your own.