Mommy: “Did you take the baby out of the crib?”
Daddy: “No, did you put the baby in the crib?”
Mommy: “Yes, I put the baby in the crib and when I came out of the bathroom he was in the hallway! You’re joking, right? You took the baby out of the crib!”
Daddy: “NO. Are you sure you put the baby in the crib?!”
Mommy: “Yes, I put him in the crib with some toys right before I went to go to the bathroom!”
By the end of this repeated conversation, our voices were heightened and we were examining our son for any bruises, bumps or scratches. Our son, Gregory, was unharmed, walking and laughing, while we were scrambling around to change his crib into a toddler bed.
As my husband said, “This is a big step for Gregory. It’s an even bigger step for us as parents!”
When I was pregnant for Gregory, we shopped around for cribs and decided on a lifetime crib, where it transitions from a crib, to a toddler bed up to a queen size. I’m glad we did this, because we had all the parts necessary at home to change the bed and it was easily accomplished. The toddler bed has a low railing and an opening.
The first night we put our son in his new big boy bed, he woke up in the middle of the night. He cried for me to come get him. He was sitting up in the bed, but refused to climb out of it. In the coming days, we worked on his new found freedom and courage getting in and out of the bed. That was the fun part, watching him learn how to step up and down and see him get excited about doing something new.
But it isn’t all sweet and cute, because nights are long for a child who is still learning how to sleep through the night and now add to this dilemma with a change in his bed.
I’m trying to transition Gregory to actually fall asleep in his crib. He nods off on my shoulder and I can move him into the bed. But I want him to fall asleep in his crib. The shortest amount of time it has taken me to do this is 45 minutes of Gregory crying and pacing up and down his bed as I sat in the opening of the toddler bed. At one point he actually flung himself down on the bed and pounded with his fist, and slapped me once (no, I didn’t react and he didn’t do it again). He worked himself up so much that he fell asleep after that. It was not a happy experience for either of us.
While he adjusts, I try to remember the techniques that other mommies have shared.
Tips for transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed.
- Keep a calm voice. (He didn’t yell in the crib, but he complained and used his fussing voice. I responded in a soothing tone, “It’s ok. Lay down.”)
- Try not to talk. (Sitting in a bed with your son alternating between pacing and punching the bed is not easy, but I took deep breaths and looked away. He could see me and knew I was there and not reacting to his tantrum.)
- Lay down with him for a few minutes in his bed. (When he was calm, I lay him down on the bed and put my head on the bed as well. I knew this comforted him.)
- Keep the toddler bed in the same area as the crib. (Before we changed the beds over, I read that this was important. The crib/toddler bed in the same location gives a sense of consistency during a change. You can’t have too many changes for a child at once, so hold off on rearranging the baby’s room.)
- Call it a big boy bed. (For him to take pride and feel good about it.)
- Have a bedtime routine. (For us, it is bath, milk, bed. But I’m considering a short story and of course, brushing his teeth.)
- If you have a trashcan in the room, make sure it has a locked lid (either he will try to empty it or put toys in it!).
- Baby proof the room over and over again. One time I came into his room to find every ounce of clothing pulled out from all of the dresser drawers!
- Have a baby gate for the baby’s room. (One morning my husband took the baby gate down before Gregory woke up – this was after a rare night of Gregory sleeping through the entire night. We watched on the baby camera as Gregory got out of his bed about an hour later. Instead of coming to our room, he got out of his toddler bed and we heard him wa
lking around the house. It was only after he inspected the house that he came to our room. Having a baby gate helps if he gets up before we do!)
- Bring the baby to the park or Water Park or go for a walk during the day, because kids have energizer bunnies inside of them. (If we could bottle that energy!) I’ve found that if my son has had enough exercise during the day then he sleeps better at night.
- When it’s close to bedtime, tone down the activity and noise in the house. People have told me, “Don’t adjust anything in your house, make it noisy so that the baby gets used to falling asleep with noise and doesn’t wake up at the slightest sound.” I tried this with my son and he doesn’t jump at every sound, but he definitely needs the noise cut down, otherwise he turns and twists and fights sleep all the more. It’s good sound advise, (pun intended), but again, each child is different.
Babies don’t come with handbooks, but everyone has an opinion. Some things work for a child that won’t work for another. I’ve been told it’s too soon to make this transition. I’ve been told to let him cry it out. I’ve been told to let him sleep with me. There’s so much information out there and I’m grateful for it; in the end, I’m going with Mother’s Instinct. I want my son to feel secure, to feel loved, to feel confident and to have courage, to learn sharing, kindness and giving – these things are taught by example and that includes transitioning him to toddler bed and knowing what will work best for him and when
.At 15 months old and having learned how to walk at 14 months old, I wonder if we jumped the gun to change the beds. That said, our son’s safety is priority one. Whatever process we have to go through to keep him safe is worth it. One mother told me that she didn’t move her child to a toddler bed until he was 3. Another mother said she made the change at 1 year old to the day.
There are so many fears in being a first-time parent. Is he learning what he should? Is he responding well enough to people? Is he confident and yet knowing when to be cautious? Does he know how much is he loved? Will I be able to teach him properly? Will my Mother’s Instinct be loud and clear when I’m fumbling around for the right answers? What advise should I listen to when there are conflicting opinions and everyone believes their opinion is the only right one? It’s a matter of working with your child and staying calm. Deep breaths, sound mind and remembering that this is for the child – for love, it makes the transition for the baby and the parent easier. Each stage is a growth in child and parent. My son is only 15 months old and has taught me as much as he has learned.
Now I’m wondering what is in store for us at the terrible two stage and (shudders) potty training!