Hi Mamas! If you are here – that PROBABLY means you are about to go through the infamous crib to big bed transition. I was dreading this day for so long. The crib was the last form of confinement we had, and I was so nervous to lose that! But….we got a bit lucky! Calvin lasted in his crib until he was over 2.5 years old! He is a crazy, persisent, outing child, but has never been a HUGE climber. Probably because he is so big! When I first witnessed him scale his crib to perfection on the first try, I think I literally yelled, “NOOOOOO!!!” lol…. while I was glad that he learned how to do it safely on his own, I knew we were about to turn over a new chapter and likely lose some sleep.
To our surprise, the transition went extremely well. Knowing what I know now, I would tell other moms, it’s not nearly as bad as you think and as long as you have a good mindset and set some expectations – you will be fine! Although I didn’t read any tips (I’m more of a wing it type mom), I am here to share mine, ease some fears and give you some ideas to make the transition that much easier.
1.) Hype up the BIG bed
We decided to go straight from the crib to a big bed that my mom had saved for Calvin. Although taking the side off the crib first is another option, we just pulled the band-aid off all at once. We didn’t want to have another transition for him in a year or less, we wanted this to be it for a while. Plus, we are lazy and wanted to keep the crib in tact for baby #2 and just move it out of the room (no, I’m not preg!) Once we got the plans in place to put his big bed together (it is a double bed but pretty low to the ground), we let him know. He watched us put it together, bring the mattress in, etc. He knew that this was going to be his big bed. We did this as opposed to just putting it together, removing the crib, and then saying, “here’s where you’re going to sleep now!” He watched the whole process and was more than ready when it was his first night to sleep in the big bed.
2.) Pick a room theme or bedding your LO will LOVE
When I picked out Calvin’s new “big boy” sheets, I made sure to get something he would love. Although he didn’t come with me, he was sooo excited when I came home and showed him his new dinosaur bedding, new pillows (he had never used pillows) and SUPER comfy new blanket. While we’re talking about blankets, I have to share that this isn’t just any blanket, it is a MAGIC blanket – I feel like when we put it on him, his eyes just start closing. It is SO SOFT and affordable, and now he associates it with sleeping in his big bed. Once we lay him down it is the first layer we cover him with, and you can just feel him settle down. This gray blanket is the one…go get it!!
3.) Continue your normal routine or establish one ASAP!
Bed time routine – this one is different for every family but our bed time routine is the same every night and has been for about 18 months. Bath and/or diaper change, jammies, movie of his choice on the big tv, brush teeth, sip of water, kiss from mommy and then daddy takes Calvin into his room. Then Calvin turns on his noise machine and nightlight before we lay him down. Yes, we tend to do a movie instead of a book before bed…sorry, not sorry. It is one of my favorite times of the day because Calvin gets so calm and snuggly and we do it as a family. If your routine has previously included your child getting into bed with you, make sure that you start to develop a consistent routine where they are now going into THEIR bed. Do the same thing each night before you take him/her in so there are no surprises. We did change ONE thing about our routine, which I’ll talk about below, but only for a few nights.
4.) Use the Certified Cantor COMFORT and then COUNTDOWN method
The first couple of nights in the new bed, Calvin would cry hysterically when we tried to lay him down and leave him. He never cries at night when he is ready for bed, so we knew that he really was genuinely scared when he said he was. It wasn’t a whine cry, it was a what’s happening, I’m terrified cry. We decided to lay with him and comfort him for 30 minutes the first night, 20 minutes the second night, 15 minutes the third night, and so on. Almost like sleep training, but he didn’t keep crying when we left. We then started saying we will lay with you for only 5 minutes, buddy. Now he basically asks us to leave so he can sleep. He doesn’t want us to lay with him at all, and we don’t. 😂 I know a lot of people believe in the cry it out method but this was so new for him – and honestly the days where he needs us to comfort him are so limited. We didn’t mind laying with him for a week or so until he got used to the new, open sleeping arrangement. We knew he needed our comfort for a few nights and that is OK with us. We would have drawn the line had he asked to sleep in our bed night after night or had he wanted us to keep laying with him for 30+ minutes every single night. We call this the “comfort and countdown” method, I’m not sure if we made it up or not. But basically we will comfort him and then say okay you have x amount of minutes left and he takes it so well. We also do this with iPad/TV time, meal time, bath time, etc. We let him do what it is he wants to do but we set boundaries with the timing of it. (Ex: you have 5 minutes left, you have 4 minutes left, etc.) Its a give and take method that really seems to work with our persistent, strong willed child who needs boundaries but won’t comply if we just try to take something with no warning. I don’t read many parenting books because of limited time, so everything we have figured out has been trial and error – including this method. It is probably named something else, but this is what we have discovered to work!
5.) Become a story teller
Sometimes if Calvin is having a hard time calming down for either nap time or bed time, we talk about all the fun things he’ll get to do and people he’ll get to see when he wakes up. We talk about how he won’t get to see those people if he’s tired or play with those toys if he doesn’t sleep first. Because he naps later in the afternoon, I usually use the daddy bribe. “Daddy will be home from work to play with you when you wake up, but only if you take a nap!” Now I will say you have to hold true on those after nap promises if your child has the memory of a steel trap, like ours does. That way, the next time you say it, they know you are telling the truth. It’s all a mind game, my friends!
These tips tend to work MOST of the time. There are nap times and nights here and there where he won’t nap or he keeps climbing out, but 99% of the time they do! Once of the nice things about his big bed is that he can get out on his own and come up to us, we don’t have to go get him out of the crib now. Mini perk 🙂
Let me know if you try any of these tips – I know that this transition is one of the biggest in the toddler years, so I hope they help! Good luck!