The control freak’s guide to moving from a crib to a toddler bed

by on June 12, 2014

in Momoirs of a Rookie Mom,Preschooler,Sleepy,Toddler

Tips to ease the transition out of a crib and into a toddler bed

He’s so ready to bust out of baby jail.

If you clicked on this post because of the title, I need to stop you right here. If you are really a control freak, you would keep your baby/toddler/preschooler in a crib for as long as humanly possible.

Once it became obvious that the needs of the child would be better served by allowing some freedom, you would still force the issue by purchasing an crib tent designed for this purpose or duct taping your child to the mattress (not a real recommendation). For my two older children, this day of no turning back happened right around age three.

Tips to ease the transition out of a crib and into a toddler bed | CUTE bedding from skip hop

Some real world been-there-done-that tips:

  1. Wait as long as you can. And then a little longer.
  2. Talk about sleep rules and the responsibilities of being a big kid. Really drill it in.
  3. Get the child excited about bedding and stuffies and what this transition means. [Some cute toddler bedding sets: Skip Hop's owl sheet set, always-popular Minnie Mouse, the hot Super Hero action sheets, or make your own toddler pillowcase.]
  4. Buy a bed that fits your current crib mattress. Hand-me-downs rock also this natural wood toddler bedframe for only $99 with free shipping is great plus it comes in many other finishes to match your other furniture. Tips on moving to a toddler bed
  5. Do a dry run. We practiced a few times getting in bed and saying goodnight before real bedtime. If you have space and are not in a rush, maybe you can set up the new mysterious bed in a quiet corner for naps. For a year or so.
  6. Hope for the best, but expect the worst for a couple of weeks.

And what actually happened in my house when I moved Sawyer, my third child, to his new big-boy bed:

As a self-proclaimed control freak and mom to three sons, I am fighting a losing battle for order in my home on a daily basis. I was pretty smug after the first couple nights in the new bed, but now, it seems, the little kid is winning.

Last week, my friend brought over the disassembled pieces of her daughter’s toddler bed to pass along to my family. We *heart* hand-me-downs. Unfortunately, Sawyer saw this drop-off happen and instantly got stars in his eyes about when he could move to a big boy bed.

Later, I thought. Much later. Sawyer is two-and-three-quarters years old.

His older brothers moved to their big kid beds around age three. I’m a fervent supporter of a child’s parent’s right to keep the crib as long as humanly possible, so I was in no rush. We have storage space for the toddler bed. Then again, this child has already leapt from his crib saying, “Milo, catch me!” (yep, they all share a bedroom) and he naps in a sleeping bag at daycare. Maybe he was ready.

But was I ready?

One day later, Alec assembled the toddler bed and unhinged our crib. I brought Sawyer to our linen closet for him to choose some Big Boy Bedding to go on his new Big Boy Bed, and we made the leap. [Note: our first child got a trip to the store to choose some meaningful linens and a matching stuffed animal; this child got a walk over to the hallway!]

Tips to ease the transition out of a crib and into a toddler bed

This was our practice goodnight

First night and morning

The first night was pretty smooth. He was so thrilled with the prospect of sleeping in the bed; he didn’t dare climb out. We get up pretty early on weekdays, so the morning was fine, too.

Ok, I’m totally lying.

Maybe my memory is already fuzzy. I guess it wasn’t totally fine. He woke up ten minutes earlier than our allowed wake-up time to use the potty. And it took forever. So by the time he wanted to get back in bed for a proper Big Boy Bed Wakeup in Accordance with Control Freak Kid Rules, it was too late. So, he freaked. Ack.

Tips to ease the transition out of a crib and into a toddler bed | The first morning

Once we got over the proper method and timing of waking up according to his rehearsed plan, Sawyer was a happy and proud boy once more. He hugged and kissed the donor of the bed when he saw her the next morning at daycare. He also told any mildly interested stranger that he was in a big kid bed now.

The rest of the week was pretty good, but then the weekend arrived.

Weekend mornings

Mornings in our family on weekends begin at 7 am, no exceptions. On Saturday, he woke up around 6:30 am. This is not in accordance with The Rules.

On Saturday night, I reminded him about the 7 am thing and that big boys know how to stay in bed. I also got into his tiny bed to make sure he could see the clock from his pillow.

Sunday was a big improvement. We didn’t hear a peep from him until 7am, at which time, he yelled for all to hear, “IT IS WAKE UP TIME!” I heard a rumor that he was awake before “morning” doing some light reading in his bed, but I ignored it to my peril.

Sunday night

Apparently, he was sneaking around the bedroom after bedtime with books and a little flashlight. He was discovered in his bed “reading” again by my husband while responding to a noise complaint. Cute, but uh-oh.

Tips to ease the transition out of a crib and into a toddler bed

These guys want him to stay as bed as much as I do

Last night

I laid down the law. If I heard any noise and discovered children out of bed after lights out, I would remove all books from the room. And, yep, I did it.

I told my whimpering audience that if I had to come back and any child was violating his sleep rules, I would start taking out loveys. It didn’t come to that. Yet.

What next?

Yes the bedding is cute and he is really proud for making this huge step toward being an older kid, but I’m afraid that I’m really in-for-it with this boy. Can I be consistent and firm but totally kind and encouraging while keeping his cute little butt in bed?

When we asked an expert for advice, these were her tips for keeping a young toddler in his new bed.

Do you guys have any tips for me?

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

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