Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How (and when!) To Transition to a Toddler Bed

Hi all! I’ve recently been asked about August’s transition to a big boy bed, so sharing exactly how we made it happen seamlessly this time around! But first, a backstory on what not to do.

Oskar had just turned 2 when we decided to move him to a big boy bed in order to use his crib for his new baby brother. He still wasn’t going to bed on his own since we read and rocked him to sleep, was waking frequently through the night, and was also just potty trained and waking extremely early to use the bathroom, and then never going back to bed. (Cue all the sirens sounding). We went ahead with it anyway. 

Oskar having free reign of his room and the house (before we fixed that) was absolutely bananas. We’d rock him to sleep, put him in his bed, only to have him wake up, turn his lights on, and pull out his toys 15 minutes later. We’d go back in and sit with him and rock him, move him to his bed, only to repeat the cycle again. Something had to give, and it was sleep training. You know what’s NOT fun? Sleep training a toddler in a big kid bed. We put child locks on his doors and covers over his light switch. We stuck to (and always had, really) a very strict bedtime with the same routine each night. Still, the result was a 2 year old screaming for hours on end, pounding on a door, and finally collapsing from exhaustion on the floor or in his chair. We’d check on him every 15 minutes, assure him, tuck him back in, but learning to fall asleep independently is a skill that requires practice, and that’s something we should have started working on well before 2. It took months and months before we got to a point of reading to him, tucking him into his bed, saying our “I love yous”, and turning out the lights as we walked out the door. We swore we’d do it differently the next time around, and here’s how we made that happen.

Step 1:

We started sleep training August at 1 year old. What this meant for us was reading and rocking, but then putting him into his crib totally awake. We stuck to the same bedtime, same songs, same familiar routine. When he cried, we’d let him do so for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15. If the crying continued, we’d stick to the 15 minute interval of going into his room to pat his back and to soothe, but not hold him. By 18 months he wasn’t crying at all, and rolled over and went to sleep peacefully after we put him in his crib. Really, I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than that as a mama. This is an absolutely critical tier to have mastered before you think about any kind of a transition.

Step 2:

Sleep training is certainly the first tier, but so is maturity. Along with this comes being able to communicate bigger thoughts and feelings. Nearly 3 year old August can tell us when he’s cold, or wants a certain stuffed animal, or wants us to leave his door a little bit cracked. All things that would probably cause emotions to bubble over in a 2 year old.  We can also tell him things like, “I can’t wait to come get you in the morning!” or, “You’re such a BIG boy in your bed!”, which he totally eats up and understands. Communicating feelings and needs is an important step for toddler bed readiness.

Step 3:

The last and final step is all about THEM, and if they’re ready and excited for a new bed. Truly, there is no reason to force this, and if your kiddo loves their crib, then let them have a crib. I assure you, nobody is going to college with their baby bed packed up, so no need to rush if your child is not ready. We talked about this for a few weeks leading up to when we thought we’d transition him, and hyped up the change and how exciting it was for him. We also asked August how he felt about it many, many times, and though he told us, “I want my crib” at first, a few days later he changed his mind on his own. When the day came, he was just so dang proud of himself and couldn’t wait to show us how grown up he was.

So, there you have it. The groundwork in 3 (not always easy) steps, but the underlying factor is TIME. I wish we would have waited with our first so we would have hit the sweet spot like we did now. August goes into his big boy bed after we read and sing, grabs his favorite stuffed animal, and goes to sleep with no issues, no fuss. He’s never gotten out of his bed and he sleeps through the night and calls for us when he wakes up. It’s been seamless and easy, and I owe it to the work we did on the front end. 
Linking some of our favorite big kid bed transition stuff, here, that made the process even easier. Let me know if you agree with my tips, and if you have any of your own to add, in the comments below!

Door Knob Covers                      

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